I spoke to Ashley Baldwin from disability charity SCOPE, to find out more about them and why they are partnering with Blog Action Day to talk about Human Rights on October 16.
What is the purpose of Scope and why are you interested in Blog Action Day?
Scope is the UK’s leading disability charity.
We’re all about changing society for the better, so that disabled people and their families can have the same opportunities as everyone else.
We work with disabled people and their families. We offer practical support – from information services (particularly at the time of diagnosis and in a child’s early years), to education and everyday care.
We challenge assumptions about disability, we influence decision makes and we show what can be possible.
Everything we do is about creating real and lasting positive change in individual lives and in the world around us. We believe that together we can create a better society.
Why is SCOPE interested in taking part in Blog Action Day and discussing Human Rights?
We’d like to make the most of Blog Action Day, and particularly this year’s theme – Human Rights – to raise awareness and trigger positive discussion around disability rights in the UK.
Thinking about human rights usually conjures up images of political prisoners, Guantanamo Bay and extreme poverty. We believe that this year’s theme is therefore an excellent opportunity to highlight the human rights violations experienced by disabled children and their families every day in Britain: The right to a family life; the right to an education; the right to a childhood.
Families with disabled children need support e.g. children’s centres, schools, playgrounds, swimming pools. However, over half of families with disabled children cannot access these services, causing a series impact on their lives, and violating their human rights.
This year, we’d like to make the most of International Blog Action Day to highlight the importance of supporting disabled children and their families on blogs that wouldn’t necessarily focus on disability. We believe that this would provide a great opportunity to raise public awareness and start conversations about disability in wider forums.
What is your role, where are you based and what inspires you most about your work?
I work as the Digital Campaigns Officer on the National Campaigns team at Scope. I’m based in the head office in Market Road, London.
My role is a new one for me, and for Scope! Disability is a cause particularly close to my heart and I’m really keen to use my experience in the international sector to start developing exciting digital campaigns that inspire greater public engagement in the amazing work that Scope does for disabled children and their families in the UK.
What do Human Rights mean to Scope
This is reflected in our strategy:
- Fulfilling family lives we want a society that recognises, includes and supports all kinds of families.
- Living independently in the community we want a society where everyone is included and supported.
- Learning and skills we want a society where everyone has opportunities to develop new skills throughout their lives.
- Work and volunteering we want a society where all types of work and volunteering are available to everyone and individual contribution is valued.
- Financial well-being we want a society where the extra cost of living some people face is no longer a barrier.
- Disabled leaders and role models we want a society where high profile people and leaders reflect the diversity of their communities.
How can people get involved in Scope or the broader issues of Disability rights
To get involved in Scope’s campaigns to ensure that disabled people and their families have the same opportunities than everyone else, sign up to our campaigns network
What are your suggestions or ideas for Blog Action Day participants to use in their Blog Action Day posts?
Human rights is an issue more traditionally associated with organisations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, that do amazing work in that field. However, human rights is not just about political prisoners, dictatorships and extreme poverty and a big part of our work in the disability sector is also about protecting human rights. Every day in Britain thousands of disabled children and their families experience violations of their most basic human rights as they are unable to access the services they need.
We believe that families with disabled children need the same services as families with non-disabled children e.g. children’s centres, schools, playgrounds, swimming pools. However, over half of families with disabled children cannot access these services, causing a serious impact on their lives and violating their human rights.
Families tell us that getting the support they need is an enormous battle and over three quarters of them have experienced anxiety and stress as a direct result of not being able to access these local services.
Some of the families that we interviewed said the following:
“I cry every day because there is no hope and no one cares. If I had just a little help we could live a more normal and fulfilling life.”
“I do feel very much alone not getting enough help. We have no extended family to rely on. We have to drive long distances and a lot of the appointments and services are far away from home. Even trying to access support groups, none are suitable locally. Why is it so difficult to get enough help?”
Half of the families we spoke to struggle to hold down full-time jobs as a result of the lack of support. And half of families said that the lack of local support meant that they miss out on family activities, days out and birthdays.
The UK Children and Families Bill aims to end this “agonising battle” that parents face in trying to get the support they need. However, the bill as it stands only enables parents to gain access to information regarding local services but does not increase the local services themselves.
We therefore want the UK Government to include a guarantee that disabled children and their families get good support, close to home.
This would mean that:
- Families with disabled children will be able to access the services that meet their needs.
- Families with disabled children will not have to battle for the support they need from services
- Families with disabled children will not need to travel far away from where they live to access services
- Parents will be less likely to push for a Statement of Special Educational Needs just to guarantee basic specialist provision
To find out more about the issues faced by disabled children and their families, that you can use to feature in your blog post visit our Keep Us Close campaign to find out what you can do to help, and hear from families who don’t have access to facilities their children need, near them.