100 stories in 100 days

Until the general election 2015

Every day from now until the general election we’re going to be publishing a story from a disabled person or a family with a disabled child. We’re encouraging parliamentary hopefuls to read just one story – so if they’re elected they better understand disability.
 

1: If I was Prime Minister

Young man sitting in an office smiling

If I were Prime Minister, I would hope to use the position to improve the lives of disabled people. With this in mind there are four changes I would immediately propose, broad ideas with one common theme: empowerment.

2: Three things the new government needs to know about disability

Josie, a disabled woman, with her arm round her teenage daughter

I don’t feel like I’m living, just existing. Politicians should look at my situation and ask themselves: “Would I be prepared to live like that?” And if the answer is no, they should be ready to make changes.

3: I had to vote in the car park

Rosemary sitting and smiling trying not to laugh

Being seen to cast my vote is really important to me.  We must work harder to ensure the voting process is as simple for disabled people as it is for others.

4: The health visitor described Charli as a 'mongol'

A small girl is sitting in a lounge playing board games with her sister, father and mother. Everyone is smiling.

I'd got so many thoughts and feelings, I felt I couldn't express because I didn't want to be viewed as a bad mum.

5: Campaigning for change is really important to me

Photograph of Nathan smiling

I'll be voting in the General Election for the first time this year. As a long-time campaigner on disability issues, this is really important to me.

7: As an older disabled woman, I've become totally invisible

Portrait of Valerie Lang, 75, smiling off camera

I've been on my hands and knees on the pavement clearing up after my dog, and people will just walk past. They don't stop to think why a grey haired old lady is kneeling on the footpath. 

8: I've been pushed out of my wheelchair and punched in the face

Man sat in wheelchair smiling, two men in the background
I did not expect that having to use a wheelchair would result in hostility, but sadly it did. I was verbally abused and deliberately tipped out my chair.

9: There's a change in the air for disabled people

A smiling Sophie Morgan in her kitchen at home

I'm starting my new role as Patron and it's a really exciting time to be working with Scope.

10: I’ve been moved out of the way without being asked

Woman seated and smiling slightly at camera

It’s a bit like asking someone for directions, and them putting their hands on your shoulders and pushing you the right way, rather than telling you.

11: I can't walk across a room but I can play 18 holes

Graeme with his golf team together on the golf course

Being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis was a harsh blow. But golf has helped improve my health and given me new purpose. 

12: My eldest son refers to my cerebral palsy as my 'cranky' hand or leg!

Two little boys, aged one and five, lying on bed, smiling

I've had cerebral palsy since birth. So I have no other frame of reference, but I’m pretty sure any parent feels a little out of their depth sometimes.

13: I use a communication aid to help me speak

Maria using her eye-gaze communication aid to

My eye-gaze communication aid makes it so much easier to talk with family and friends. It has taken me five years to learn to use it but it's been worth it.

14: I was fighting to stay in work

Woman's face smiling

My employers were refusing to meet the recommendations made through Access to Work.  After an 18 month battle that ended in a tribunal, I felt there was no option but to resign.

15: Four things we've learned about hospital stays

Scarlett, an eight-yea-old girl with dark hair, smiling and holding a black cat

Taking Scarlett to hospital, and seeing her looking awful, has become less of a big deal over the years, but it is always a reminder of how fragile she is.

17: I was chomping at the bit to get back into work

Sean, a man in his late twenties, smiling at the camera, a display of hardware in the background

I’d had to stop work because of illness. In time I got the help I required, but getting back into the job market was tough.

16: I can't imagine our lives without my hearing dog

woman, dog and child leaning on the floor, smiling

The guilt I felt when waking up in the morning to find my son had been crying all night, and in too much pain to get out of bed to get me, was indescribable.

18: I advise bus drivers on how to treat disabled passengers

Jean, a woman in her thirties, at a computer

In 2013, I had to make a complaint about a bus driver.  The company asked me to go in and speak to the management, and the bus drivers. After a couple of months they said, "How would you feel about us paying you for it?"

19: From my wheelchair I've seen humanity at its greatest

Man in a wheelchair with someone pushing him, and someone holding a harness, looking into the sunrise

Something inside kind of said this is something I should try, and wouldn’t that be crazy to do in my wheelchair?

20: It's been tough. But he's our little boy and we love him

George with his Mum, sister and Dad while on holiday

It can be tough having a disabled child sometimes, but he's our boy and we all adore him. Thanks to Scope I'm back at work now and optimistic for the future. 

21: There's more to me than meets the eye

A disabled woman smiling in pink and black top

I'm passionate about raising awareness of hidden disabilities. My campaign 'More than meets the eye' aims to raise awareness of the challenges people can face.

22: How I communicate with my pre-verbal child

Amanda, Livvy and her younger sister smiling, very close to the camera

One of the first questions people ask me when they meet my amazing 14-year-old daughter Livvy is, “Does she talk?” Well, Livvy has no spoken language. But there’s more to communication than the words we say.

23: There was no disabled loo so I had to use a disposable barbecue!

Disabled woman Kelly, her husband Jarath and a friend at a music festival, looking at the camera

We both get creative when people ask why Kelly is in a wheelchair. I told someone she fell out of a plane! 

24: Jumpy words, wriggly writing and headaches

Two small children looking at the camera

My two children and I have a condition that makes words move on the page. When I sit in front of a computer the screen seems to shake in front of me.

25: Injury and agony couldn't stop us achieving this dream

Brett and Luke taking part in the Brighton marathon wearing Scope's purple vests

It was our dream to finish the Brighton marathon. Despite injury and difficulties, we did it! 

26: Mixed Martial Arts is a physical sport, we're not baking cookies in there

Teenage boy with boxing gloves sitting on the edge of a boxing ring

Cerebral palsy has given me the determination to never give up and I think that if I didn’t have this disability, I wouldn’t even like MMA – I would be too scared to do it.

27: Having a disabled sibling feels completely normal

Young disabled man with young woman, smiling at camera

None of my friends had disabled siblings, and although I read a couple of children’s books on the subject I didn’t feel they were reflective of my experience.

28: We’re all human, we’re all normal, but different

Portrait of Christina smiling at the camera

It’s hard for young people to find a job. Then, even when I do get an interview, I have to explain my impairment and deal with people’s prejudices.

29: Too often, I've seen people left in a corner without a voice

Anthony using his computer

My experiences as a disabled person have made me passionate about helping other disabled people who might not be able to advocate on their own. 

30: Social care helped me get three golds at the Paralympics

Sophie dressed in equestrian gear with her medals around her neck
Ever since I was young, I really wanted to live a normal life - you know, move out of home, become independent. There's no way I could do that without social care.

31: We had lots of love still to give. That's why we fostered Grace

A cartoon image from the video of Jenny, Tom and their foster child Grace.

Jenny and Tom found themselves with an empty nest. With so much more love and care still to give they decided to contact Scope's fostering service. It was here they first heard about Grace.

32: What makes me frustrated? People not listening to me

John, a man in his 50s, sitting in his wheelchair at a coffee shop

I do things by myself, but there’s someone there if I need them. I like to choose my own food and be treated normally.

34: I never want another parent to feel how I felt

Tracy and her son in a kitchen, smiling at the camera

All the children in my son Reigan’s class were invited to a birthday party, and he was the only one who didn’t get an invite. It was horrible, really horrible. I was suffering from depression and I felt isolated from other parents

33: I am in full control of my care needs

Smiling blonde young woman

I never really imagined moving out of home. I thought, even though I was the eldest I would be the last to move out, if I ever did. I guess I thought my disability was a barrier.

35: Being disabled gives me a unique insight which helps me at work

Emma looking at the camera and smiling

I decided to become a lawyer because I wanted to do work that would be intellectually challenging, but which would contribute to making the world a better place. I think being disabled helps make me good at what I do. 

36:There's no sign outside - it's just my home

Tony, who is in his late 40s, in a restaurant smiling at the camera

I live in supported housing now, but I was in Lingfield Avenue care home for close on 20 years. I’d always wanted to move somewhere that was less care-orientated.

37:Disabled people and their families need more support

Baby Hannah with her Uncle Paul

All of the family played a part in supporting and caring for Uncle Paul.  It came naturally to us all.

38: I love helping people get things sorted out

Woman smiling looking away from camera

I’m working with about 20 people at any time, and lots will keep in touch for months or years as they face new difficulties. 

39: Trendsetters has been a lifesaver for me!

Katherine at school heading to her next class

I've been part of the Trendsetters programme since I was 12. It's allowed me to make new friends, learn new skills and gain confidence. 

Video describing
Read the [fill in video name] video transcript

40: It was important to leave a gift in our daughter's name

Gordon and Sheena sitting on a bench in their garden

My wife and I often reminisce about our daughter Rhona. We thought a good way to celebrate her life was to leave a gift in our will in our daughter's name.

41: Games disabled and non-disabled children can play together

Disabled child playing with drumstick

I work with both disabled and non-disabled children at Scope's inclusive nursery at Walton Children's Centre, Liverpool. Four in ten parents of disabled children say their child rarely gets to mix with children who are non-disabled - but there are so many games that all children can play together.

42: I've wanted to live independently for a long time

Ben in his unoccupied flat

I have wanted to live independently for a long time. I was on the council waiting list for 12 years and in 2013 I finally found a flat.

43: We want the boys to experience things together, as brothers should

A picture of Martin with his three children on their way to a Manchester United match

My eldest son, Jordan, is a wheelchair user. We want to attend Manchester United matches as a family but have encountered so many difficulties. 

44: Good local support is vital for my family

Screen grab from film with Jane Jones talking about the importance of good local services for disabled people

If we had good quality local services, it would make a huge amount of difference to our family. There wouldn't be the financial hardship. We would be emotionally stronger, and more united.

45: I want to make changes for disabled people

A picture of Jhon talking to camera in a YouTube video

My name is Jhon and I’m from Leicester. I’m really passionate about making my voice heard and making a difference for disabled people.

46: Watching the Paralympics changed everything for me

Girl in a wheelchair in front of a net, holding a bat

I watched five minutes of the Paralympics on the telly and was blown away. It changed everything for me. I watched people like myself competing and I just sat there and thought ‘wow’. 

47: I wanted to help other dads

Father lying on sofa with his disabled son

The training i've received from Scope's befriending service has helped me support other parents with disabled children.

48: Confessions of a video producer

Three men sitting in a crowd at a football match

Whilst I clumsily jolted the camera about trying to track a gymnast flying over a vault, Kev was just calmly following all the action. He made everything look so easy. I was, admittedly, a little bit jealous…

49: Why I believe in inclusive education

Mima, a young disabled woman, sitting at a desk

I went to a special school, but it wasn’t right for me at all. I wanted to learn and do my exams, and we were singing ‘Ten Green Bottles!’

50: 50 unique stories shared so far

Image marking the 50th story we've shared. Text:50 stories #100Days100Stories

We're sharing 100 stories - once each day until the general election - of disabled people and their families. Today we mark the half way mark. We've shared 50 unique stories so far! 

51: The system's not about people - it's about money

Kenneth in a baseball cap smiling

When people think about institutions, they imagine big old buildings with lots of residents sitting around doing nothing. But we were living in a new, purpose built bungalow and it was just as bad. 

52: A letter to my my mother, my brother's carer

Middle-aged man with Down's syndrome smiling into the camera, his mother behind him.

"Your son is a congenital idiot," were the doctor's carefully chosen words. They are as sharply etched now as they were 54 years ago. 

53: I had falls with my baby daughter in my arms

Sona, a mum in her thirties, talking with Karin, a Scope response worker, on a sofa

My support was cut overnight. All I wanted was to be able to take my children outside, but I was basically trapped in my own house.

54: We now know that Leo is going to be just fine

Couple holding their two children in a family photo

When we were told that Leo had cerebral palsy we were shocked and didn't know what to do. Now Leo is so happy and confident. We know he's going to be just fine. 

55: Volunteering helped me get the job I wanted

Lady sitting on a sofa in a restaurant
I knew I wanted to work with vulnerable adults, probably in a caring or support worker role. With Scope's help I was able to volunteer and learn lots of new skills. That really helped me get the job I wanted. 

56: Ruby vs Preconceptions: This Girl Can

Ruby getting ready to swim as part of the This Girl Can campaign

My mum taught me to swim from when I was just a few months old and since then I've gone from strength to strength. I've won a few silver medals and one gold and would say to any girl who wants to swim, just dive in!

57: David Blunkett on growing up disabled in the 1950s

Portrait photo of David Blunkett

Former Home Secretary David Blunkett is Britain's most successful disabled politician. He talks to Disability Now about his life, including leaving home for a segregated blind school at 12, just weeks after his father died.

Video describing
Read the transcript

58: Behind the scenes of a information and support worker

Disabled man talking on telephone seated at desk

Ian Jones Scope's Regional Response worker talks about how as a disabled person he supports other  disabled people and their families.

59: Performance, fashion, wheels and me…

Charlotte in glamorous dress with her hair and makeup done

The acting world can be a tough place to succeed. I've definitely found a lot of challenges but my passion and ambition to succeed hasn't been diminished! 

60: Working mother - a lifestyle choice?

Hannah with her daughter sitting together on sofa

Why shouldn't the mother of a disabled child have the same opportunities to work as other mothers?

61: 'Body attack' changed my life

Gerald, who is in a wheelchair, in an aerobics class

I go to 10 classes a week ranging from 'body combat' to 'body attack'. I love all my classes, all my instuctors are amazing, I have made so many friends.

62: I'm running possibly the world's only wheelchair spin class!

Kris smiling while he leads an exercise class for wheelchair users

Being disabled doesn’t mean you need to be wrapped in cotton wool, it just means you need to think creatively about exercise and fitness. 

63: It has a huge psychological impact

Sulaiman looking at the camera

I don't want to sit at home watching Jeremy Kyle all day long. I want to go out, socialise, commute like any Londoner, go to work and pay taxes.

64: This kind of set up totally gives Luciano what he needs in life

Luciano in a wheelchair outside, with a support worker

Luciano and Tom get on really well so when the idea was proposed about them living together, it just didn’t need a second thought really.

65: I know you're trying to be nice

Family of mum, dad and three daughters holding hands in front of a blue wall

We get people talking loudly and slowly, and people saying ‘What’s wrong with her?’ The answer is that nothing is wrong with Lucia.

66: Work experience gave me a new positive outlook on life

Michael putting on a tie to go to work

Getting a work experience placement with London Underground really improved my confidence and gave me a new outlook on life. I now think "I can do this!" 

67: How do you solve a problem like James?

James smiles at the camera while he's travelling via train

I want to help raise awareness of what is an all too often misunderstood condition. 

68: Public Transport should be accessible for everyone

Photograph of smiling Conrad taken whilst on an evening out

I lost out on job opportunities because of inaccessible public transport. That's why I started campaigning  to get things changed. 

69: Without Ian I don’t know what we would have done

Kelly holding up her toddler Lincoln

Seeing Ian, who has quite severe cerebral palsy himself, really gave us hope. He drives a car, he gets out and about, he works - and I thought that if he can do it, then Lincoln will be able to do it too.

70: Just because Barry’s got a set of wheels doesn’t mean his ears don’t work

Barry in his home with his support worker Judy

Barry got a new lease of life when he moved from a care home to his own place. Barry and his support worker Judy talk about his new life. 

71: If I can make it we all can

DJ Truth sitting in front of brick wall

I'm Truth and I have cerebral palsy, but that isn’t what defines me. There’s more to me. I'm a rapper, musician and producer. Music is my escape. With music there are no barriers.

72: I feel like I'm going in the right direction

Felix in a chair smiling - links to blog with Felix's story

I’m working towards being in employment. I’ll have to be tough, because I’m not quite where I want to be yet, but I feel like I’m going in the right direction.

73: My dream is to be accepted at school

Smiling girl wearing glasses

The stares are normal. It's not every day you see a splint. It's the glares of disbelief that are upsetting. What you see is a tiny part of me. 

74: Girlguiding made me feel valued

Caroline in a wheelchair with paddle and helmet on, ready for white water rafting

I had support, but I wasn’t smothered. I was allowed to make my own mistakes, but I knew there would be someone there to help me work out what to do differently next time.

75: I'm an endurance athlete with one leg

Chris and his daughter at the finish line of a race

In 2008 my wife, Denise, and I lost our left legs in a road accident. With lots of encouragement and modern technology we’ve been able to get mobile again.

76: I want disabled models to be the norm

Two polaroid photos of Hayley in sunglasses and a jacket

I’ve always had a big interest in fashion. It angered and upset me that disabled people were rarely, often never considered within advertising and marketing. 

77: Lazy? No, just disabled... my invisible impairment

Headshot of Carol smiling at camera

I get stared and sighed at when I park in a disabled bay, as people realise I’m not elderly or in a wheelchair. People have literally run out of buildings to tell me to park elsewhere.  

79: Writing has given me strength

Alice, her husband and two sons on the couch playing guitars
My experience of raising two boys with a disability has been an emotional rollercoaster, and I have learned to navigate through by finding strength in my own way, more recently by writing a book.

80: Technology brings me freedom

Disabled man using Assistive Technology

Many students at Scope's Beaumont College use assistive technology to communicate.  Here five young people explain how technology allows them to be more independent, both in their education and social life.  

81: I love seeing employers changing their attitudes

Emily in a cafe

There are so few employers who are willing to take that chance with a young disabled person. I get really passionate about what I do, maybe because I'm disabled myself. 

82: There are some perks of dating someone with a hearing impairment

Jennie, her partner Jonno and their dog

When you are getting down to things and having a good old snog, the last thing you want is your hearing aids whistling every time the hot man - in my mind he is always hot - puts his fingers through your hair.

83: My husband and I had to sleep separately

Sarah, her husband and two daughters hugging in long grass

It was difficult being in separate rooms because Nick is my true love. But part of Flo’s autism is her desire for routine and giving her that routine, at least, helped in some ways. 

84: Fostering Rosie has changed our lives so much

Child's handprint painting

I’d always thought I’d like to foster disabled children, but I thought I’d wait until my children were older. But then one day at the bottom of my payslip was a message: ‘Interested in fostering?’ And for some reason, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. 

85: Now I describe my disability as a strength

Azar smiling and looking into the distance

Without Scope I don‘t know what I’d be doing now. I’d be jobless, probably at home, playing my X-Box, watching TV. I wouldn’t be where I am today and I wouldn’t be able to explain my disability in a confident manner.

86: I want the students to see they can do more

Close-up of Rhys Evans

When I was at school, many people thought that if you were disabled you should appreciate that you had a school to go to. There was no focus on what next.

87: My boyfriend googled how to kiss a wheelchair user

Emily Yates smiling in a colourful top

In a perfect world, there would always be a chair nearby for a tall guy to sit on when talking to someone of a shorter stature or a wheelchair user, and everyone would instinctively know how to support somebody with a visual impairment.

88: Before, I didn't feel like I was part of the world

Jamie using his voice recognition software

Now everything’s changed. Now, I feel I can do anything. Not quite invincible, but not far off! After college I’m hoping to get some extra work and start my acting career. What happens then, who knows. 

89: I want my son to know there's nothing he can't do

Kelly with Joe in his school uniform

When my son Joe couldn't go and see The Theory of Everything because our local cinema wouldn't show it on an accessible screen, our story made headlines. I want to show him that it’s okay to say: ‘I want what everyone else has, please’. 

90: The extra costs that come with our beautiful boys

Emily's husband and four children on a park bench eating icecream

I'm disabled and two of my children have autism. The boys have a lot of difficulties with food and there’s lots of wastage. They’re also very faddy – one day they want eggs on toast and the next day it’s oranges.

91: The best future for my son

Dionne smiling and hugging Jayden

I was 21, terrified about the future and extremely depressed. There were days when Jayden cried endlessly and didn’t sleep at all. I was always on standby for something to go wrong with my son and I hated feeling helpless. 

92: Our adorable son enriches our lives every day

Close-up of Benjamin at two days old

Doctors offered us a termination if we wanted one. But no one said "He might be happy. You might still be able to do the things you wanted, just with a little more planning. He might enrich your lives in ways you never imagined."

93: From a prison cell to the Paralympics

Craig at the YMCA gym he manages

I’m the manager of a YMCA gym in Peterborough that works specifically with disabled people. Five years ago my life was very different – I’m not proud of my past, but it’s certainly shaped me to be the person I am. 

94: Being a mum in a wheelchair has its benefits!

Marie playing with Mark on the floor

I can’t lift Mark now but we always knew this time would come - it was inevitable. But I can still do so much with him - I can feed him, bathe him, play with him, talk and sing to him.

95: It felt like a weight had been lifted

Oliver's being held up by his dad's hands

It was hard putting him through it, watching him being tested. He would cry as soon as somebody came near him. 

96: I was told 'she won't do anything a normal children do'

Micheala and Venice smiling

When my daughter was diagnosed the doctor said ‘It’s called cerebral palsy and she won’t walk, ever, and she won’t dance, she won’t run, she won’t do anything that normal children do.’ 

97: It took me 30 years to make myself heard

Mandy in her garden

I have cerebral palsy and use a communication device which I operate with the back of my hand. I did not get this device until I was 30 years old. Until then, I had no way of communicating except with my eyes and facial expressions.

98: This is different to living at home

Tom in his wheelchair
At home in mid-Wales, there wasn’t much for me to do – not many jobs, and definitely not for people who want to get into filmmaking. There is a buzz in the city that I missed.  

99: I pay hundreds in extra costs every month

Shopping list on note paper
My son Kyle has Down's syndrome and autism, and I am also disabled. We face a lot of problems that people don’t realise exist, and some of them are costly.
 

100: I'm frightened of needing the loo

Angie in her living room
How would you feel if you couldn’t have a drink of water, because there was no one to help you get to the loo? That is the situation I have been in for the past few months.

How can you get involved in 100 stories?

How stories make a difference

Most people don’t know a disabled person, don’t really understand their life and as a result can feel awkward or avoid interaction – that goes for politicians as much as anyone.

At Scope we want the public to get to know disabled people, so they understand them better and feel less awkward.

One way we do this is through stories. We give disabled people and their families a platform to share their story. Nothing is more powerful when it comes to challenging attitudes.

Ahead of the election we’re going to publish a story a day for 100 days from disabled people and their families.

Many of our storytellers are making sure their local politicians see or hear their story.

We hope this will help improve politicians’ understanding of disabled people and their families, and lay the foundations for policies that make this country a better place for disabled people.