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0808 800 3333
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Jackie O’Kelly supports hundreds of disabled people every year working as a regional response worker for Scope in the Midlands
I’m up making breakfast and driving my teenagers, Sophie and Emma, to the bus stop for school, then it’s off to work. I’m in the office by 9.00, answering half a dozen emails which came in overnight.
A call from the Scope Helpline letting me know about a new case. I ring to introduce myself, and we arrange a home visit for later in the week. 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.
Quick phone call to check in with the parents of George, a youngster with cerebral palsy. His parents are applying for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) but I’m worried he might be turned down for the mobility payments he really needs, so we’re working together on his application to make sure it’s right.
Squeezing in a few more emails. It can be so difficult for families to find the information they need. So one of the most important parts of my job is pointing people to the right information, whether it’s about their impairment, benefits, local support or funding for home adaptations.
Visit to meet Sarah, a mum whose four-year-old boy has just been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. She’d been told for years that nothing was wrong despite her worries, and she’s very upset. I’ve worked for Scope for 18 years but before that I was an occupational therapist working with children with cerebral palsy, so it’s my area of expertise.
Sarah and I talk about the different forms of cerebral palsy and where she can get support. The diagnosis was a real shock and I’m not sure it’s sunk in yet. I’ll get back in touch in a week, and she’s got my details in case she needs me.
Back to the office to check on a few more cases. I work remotely from my elderly mum’s house, which is fantastic as I can make sure she’s okay at the same time.
On the phone chatting to a mum about her daughter, who has autism, and she says she’d like to meet some other parents of disabled children. Luckily I know a dad nearby whose daughter also has learning difficulties. I give him a ring, and he’s happy for me to pass on her number. It can be really isolating being a parent of a disabled child so it is vital that we are here to introduce people like this.
A last-minute call comes through – a family with two young disabled children desperately needing respite care. I spend an hour ringing round different agencies, and decide this needs to be referred to social services. I’ll keep in touch to see if there’s anything I can do.
Check my mum’s settled for the evening, then it’s home for dinner with the family and a bit of trashy TV! Working with people going through such difficult times can be draining, but I love helping people get things sorted out. It doesn’t feel like work at all.
• knowledge to ensure she
can offer expert advice
• dedication to make sure
she can help as many people
• understanding so that she
can offer the right support
at the right time
• and you – with your support
Jackie is here every day
helping people through
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