Coronavirus: information and updates

Supporting disabled families

The quick read

  • 1,687 families were supported through our tailored family services. Three-quarters of parents said they felt more resilient following our support.
  • 988 families used our Sleep Right service which improved their sleep and resilience. 92% of these families said their child’s sleep got better as a result.
  • 444 parents and carers received emotional support through our Navigate programme. Of those, 83% said their wellbeing had improved.
  • 255 parents and carers used our Parents Connect support programme. Many told us their knowledge and skills improved following these sessions.
  • As part of the Disabled Children’s Partnership, we helped restore children’s rights around Education, Health and Care Plans.

Disabled families in the UK

There are more than 1 million disabled children in the UK. To get the best start in life, it’s vital that disabled children – and their families – get the support they need early on.

However, many families are finding it difficult to get this support. It’s often due to funding cuts and lack of resources. During the pandemic, for example, 75% of families reported delays to routine health appointments for their disabled child (Disabled Children’s Partnership – The Longest Lockdown, 2021).

At Scope, we believe every disabled child should be able to fulfil their potential and have the confidence to succeed as they grow up. So we’re working to make sure every family gets the support they need to make this happen.

Christy’s and Sascha’s story

Christy’s son Sascha is deaf and was struggling with sleep issues. This had a big emotional impact on the entire family, leaving Christy to struggle with her own mental health due to sleep deprivation.

“My son Sascha is 3 years old. His sense of sight and touch are magnified because he was born profoundly deaf due to having no auditory nerve and glue ear. That makes him extremely sensitive to vibrations.

Because of this, for a long time, Sascha really struggled to sleep. He couldn’t settle at all – so I couldn’t sleep either. I felt like I’d been hit by a truck, I was that exhausted.

We went to a local children’s deaf group and as luck would have it, one mum at the group was not only a parent of a deaf child, but also happened to be a Sleep practitioner with Scope’s Sleep Right service.

We got a place on Scope’s Sleep Right service in February 2020. Sue, our practitioner, talked me through sleep cycles, how a bedtime routine is really important and how you can just tweak what you’re doing to have a big impact.”

Scope’s Sleep Right service helped us find the right bedtime routine for Sascha and gave us loads of great tips, like introducing a ‘sleepy snack’ and a ‘bedtime box’ full of calming toys.

Christy, Sascha's mum

Our family services

Due to the pandemic, we had to temporarily move all our services online and over the phone. However, this helped us reach even more people with essential information and support.

Overall, we increased the number of families we directly supported through our tailored family services from 1,355 in 2019/20 to 1,687 in 2020/21. Three-quarters of parents said they felt more resilient following our support.

Sleep Right

Our Sleep Right service worked with 988 families to improve their disabled child’s sleep and parents’ resilience. For 92% of families, their child’s sleep got better as a result.


Navigate, our national mentoring service, provided emotional support for 444 parents and carers of disabled children. Of those, 83% said their wellbeing had improved.

Parents Connect

Through our Parents Connect support programme, we worked with 255 parents and carers of young disabled people. The move online made it possible for parents to access the service more flexibly. Many told us their knowledge and skills improved following these sessions.

Activities for All

As part of our Activities for All programme, we work with local leisure activities groups and organisations in Leeds to make them inclusive to all children. Many of these were closed throughout most of last year, so we’ve been offering virtual training sessions on a range of topics, including budgeting for inclusion and understanding ADHD.

We also worked directly with disabled families, as we were one of the few organisations in Leeds continuing to provide support throughout lockdown. We offered information, advice and emotional support to families stuck in lockdown and ran Zoom workshops for parents. Overall, we supported 81 organisations and 162 professionals, as well as 321 families.

Disabled Children’s Partnership

As a member of the Disabled Children’s Partnership (DCP), we’ve supported their #LeftInLockdown campaign, which looked at the impact of coronavirus on disabled children and their families throughout lockdown.

The DCP has successfully raised issues on behalf of disabled children and their families to government and MPs, and helped to restore children’s rights around education, health and care plans.

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