Valentine’s research: Just 1 in 10 Brits has dated a disabled person

New research by the disability charity Scope reveals that less than 10% of people who aren’t disabled have ever asked out, or been on a date with, a disabled person. 

Scope’s research shows that the majority (67%) of Brits feel awkward around disabled people, and as a result they panic or worse - avoid contact altogether.  

  • A staggering eight out of ten people in Britain (76%) have never invited a disabled person to a social occasion. 
  • Half of the British public (48%) has never started a conversation with someone disabled.  
  • And less than one in five (16%) people have invited a disabled person round to their house.

This Valentine’s Day, the disability charity Scope is urging the British public to ‘kiss awkward goodbye’ – with a collection of tongue-in-cheek Valentine’s Day cards that will hopefully break down the barriers and bring people together.

With slogans like “I love you (and it’s not just for the free parking)” and “Get your cane you’ve pulled!” the set of 4 illustrated postcards will be given away with every purchase made at Scope’s Camden store. And to get them out to the masses they will be available for people to share online too.

And that’s not all Scope has planned for the most romantic day of the year. In a frank film, disabled people dish the dirt on dating, relationships, sex, and the stigma that comes with it.  TV presenter Sophie Morgan, Musician and Actor Mat Fraser and Film Maker Kate Monaghan are just a few of those revealing their most awkward moments on camera.  

In the video Sophie Morgan says:

“I was sat in a bar, next to a guy, out of my chair on a sofa and he was chatting me up.

And then I shouted to my friends to go and get my chair. As they brought it along and I transferred into it, he stared at me, stared at the chair...Stared at me again, and then just stood up and walked off”

Scope has launched the findings as part of a national campaign End The Awkward, to raise awareness of disability and end the awkwardness that many people feel around disabled people.

Richard Hawkes, Scope’s Chief Executive, says:

“Not enough people know a disabled person, or know enough about disability. 

This can mean people worry about saying or doing the wrong thing and feel awkward. 

We wanted to raise this issue in a light-hearted way. 

Scope’s End The Awkward campaign gets us all thinking about what we can do to include disabled people in our lives - whether it’s just as friends or something more…”

Scope’s research shows that there continues to be a real lack of public understanding about disability:

  • Nearly half (43%) of the British public do not personally know anyone who is disabled.

  • Over three quarters (78%) of Brits said that they would not be comfortable speaking about disability in front of a disabled person, with many worrying they would say something inappropriate or use an offensive term by mistake.

  • Many people said that getting to know someone disabled (35%), or getting advice from disabled people (28%), would make them feel more confident when meeting a disabled person.  

The charity hopes that the campaign will get people thinking about what they can do to include disabled people more in their lives.

Notes to the editor:

For interviews and background please call Anja Dembina on 020 7619 7730 or email anja.dembina@scope.org.uk.

Scope launched End The Awkward campaign in May 2014 with a series of humorous adverts fronted by comedian and star of Channel 4’s The Last Leg Alex Brooker. He guides viewers through a series of awkward situations that they may encounter with a disabled person. The campaign also included tips, guides and videos on how to End the Awkward. See End the Awkward ads and tips for ending the awkward.

Scope commissioned Opinium Research to carry out an online survey of 2,001 UK adults aged 18+ from 11 to 14 April 2014. Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria. We published the findings in our report on attitudes towards disabled people.

The Valentine’s Day cards were produced by creative agency Grey London and illustrated by Dave Anderson at Blood Sausage.

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