Support for Disabled Children

Every 10 minutes, a parent learns their child is disabled. The Lord Mayor is raising money to help support these families

DISABILITY is an issue close to the Lord Mayor Alan Yarrow and his family’s heart. Their eldest son Max has a learning disability.

His wife Gilly explains, “As parents of a disabled person, you can often feel isolated from mainstream society. While friends happily discuss hopes for their children – school, university, career – you seem to be staring into the bleak unknown. Fighting fear, fatigue and sheer frustration with the system.

“We wanted what any parent wants for their child; to have access to opportunities, and to grow up happy, healthy and fulfilled – able to make the best possible contribution to our communities.”

Like many families, Scope was there to support them. The charity provides a life-line to disabled people and their families across the UK and this year it is one of the primary beneficiaries of the Lord Mayor’s Appeal.

“We are the lucky ones,” says Gilly, “I was able to give up work to focus on Max and our family. And Scope was with us every step of the way. We want other families, like ours, to access the help, advice and friendship which we received – and depended on.”

Research by Scope shows that eighty per cent of parents with disabled children admit to feeling stressed or exhausted. Parents are juggling work, household tasks and countless medical appointments for their child. They often feel alone and unsupported.

It costs three times more to raise a disabled child, and when you couple that with feelings of social isolation and higher chances of relationship breakdown - it’s no surprise that families are struggling.

One crucial service Scope provides to help parents is Face 2 Face, a free befriending scheme aimed at offering emotional support and practical help to others in a similar position. The national scheme has services in London, including Islington, Redbridge, Waltham Forest, Newham and Tower Hamlets.

Zainab Mohammed is from Clerkenwell. Her son Lameen has Down’s Syndrome. She’s found it tough being a parent of a disabled child. Her experiences have made her want to help other parents, which is why she became a befriender for Scope’s Face 2 Face service.

“Having a disabled child puts strain on your relationships. Me and my husband separated when Lameen was 4. I can't put it solely down to having a disabled child but it put pressures on us. We didn't have any time for each other and Lameen needed all of my time and support.

Lameen is now 12, but I feel like I'm still looking after a baby. He has complex learning difficulties and needs constant supervision. He has very limited speech and isn't aware of the dangers around him. Simple tasks like cooking or going outside near roads can be very dangerous.”

Director of Fundraising Alan Gosschalk says that the demand for services like Face 2 Face is growing daily

“Scope provides information, advice and support to more than a quarter of a million disabled people and their families every year.

Calls to our helpline have increased and our online information pages are being viewed by more people.

The Lord Mayor’s Appeal will support Scope’s Fund for Families enabling us to support as many families and disabled children as possible.”

With more cuts to benefits and support services to come things won’t be getting any easier for disabled people and their families.

By supporting Scope’s Fund for Families, the money raised will ensure that families of disabled children don’t struggle alone.

Steptember: Support Scope by getting active
2 – 29 September 2015

Join teams from around the world and challenge yourself to walk, swim, dance or wheel your way to 10,000 steps a day this September. There are over 60 different activities you can convert to steps including activities for people with a disability. Take part with your friends, family and colleagues and raise funds for Scope.

The average office worker takes just 2,500 steps a day. Steptember is all about getting together in teams of up to four to each take the equivalent of 10,000 steps a day throughout the month of September.

It's just £10 per person to sign up, with a £100 per person fundraising pledge.

To sign up simply head to the website www.steptember.org.uk

LET’S END THE AWKWARD ABOUT DISABILITY

Awkward situations can be funny. But imagine if every day, people avoided talking to you because they weren’t sure what to say or how to act. That’s the situation that many disabled people face today.

Previous research by Scope shows that the majority of Brits feel awkward around disabled people, and as a result they panic or worse – avoid contact altogether for fear of doing the wrong thing. Scope’s End the Awkward campaign aims to tackle the awkwardness that many people feel about disability.

Nearly half of the British public do not personally know anyone who is disabled. To raise awareness of the nation’s awkwardness, Channel 4, in partnership with Scope, is releasing a new Shorts series, What Not To Do, fronted by Alex Brooker (pictured), the charity’s ambassador and star of Channel 4’s The Last Leg.

The six, four-minute films see Alex react to different scenarios as hidden camera set-ups expose awkwardness around disability.

Brooker, who has a prosthetic leg, and hand and arm disabilities, hopes the campaign will get people talking about, rather than avoiding, the issue of disability:

“Some people can feel a bit awkward about disability, but I think more often than not the awkwardness is coming from a good place – it's just someone not wanting to cause offence.

“The situations in these short films are outrageous, but they’re based on real life stories from disabled people.

“I've gone through the awkward handshake myself a good few times.

“We need to get past all that and end the awkward. Disability is only a small part of who someone is.”

To watch the films visit All 4 All4.co.uk/whatnottodo