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Scope (charity)

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HeadquartersLondon, E15
Region served
England and Wales
Chief Executive
Mark Hodgkinson

Scope (previously known as the National Spastics Society) is a disability charity in England and Wales that campaigns to change negative attitudes about disability, provides direct services, and educates the public. The organisation was founded in 1952 by a group of parents and social workers who wanted to ensure that their disabled children had the right to a decent education. Originally focused on cerebral palsy, Scope now embraces all conditions and impairment. Scope subscribes to the social model of disability rather than the medical model of disability – that a person is disabled by the barriers placed in front of them by society, not because of their condition or impairment.[1]


Scope was founded as the National Spastics Society on 9 October 1951[2] by Ian Dawson-Shepherd, Eric Hodgson, Alex Moira and a social worker, Jean Garwood, with the aim of improving and expanding services for people with cerebral palsy.[3]

From 1955 to 1989, the society ran the Thomas Delarue School, a specialist secondary boarding school at Tonbridge, Kent.[4] Scope ran several other schools until they were transferred to another organization in 2018.[5]

Over time, thanks in large part to the influence of Bill Hargreaves,[6] the first trustee with cerebral palsy, the charity's aims extended to improving and expanding services for people with cerebral palsy and disabled people in general. Bill's pioneering work in employment in the 1950s supported over 1,500 disabled people into their first jobs.[6]: 70  In 1962, he set up the 62 Clubs where disabled people could choose and control their own leisure activities. Through its employment services, Scope continues to support disabled people to have the same opportunities as everyone else.

In 1963, the organisation merged with the British Council for the Welfare of Spastics to become The Spastics Society. The Spastics Society provided sheltered workshops and day centres for people with cerebral palsy (commonly referred to as spastics at the time, despite spasticity being a symptom of only one variant of cerebral palsy), who were seen as being unemployable in mainstream society. The Society provided residential units and schools, as well as opening a chain of charity shops.

The term spastic had long been used as a general playground insult, so in 1994 the organisation changed its name to Scope.[7][8]

In November 1996, Scope AGM voted in favour of an individual membership scheme to give a voice to the 20,000 people that Scope and its local groups are in contact with every year – the first major UK disability charity to do so. In 1998, Scope individual members voted in elections to Executive Council.[citation needed]

In 2017, Scope launched its new strategy – Everyday equality – which set out how the charity would campaign to support disabled people. The strategy sets out an ambition to offer information, support and advice to two million disabled people and their families every year.[citation needed]

In 2018 Scope transferred 51 services, 31 care homes, 10 day services, and 1,300 staff to Salutem Healthcare as part of a major shift out of service provision.[9][5]


In 2004 Scope launched the Time to Get Equal campaign to reduce disablism, which it defines as "discriminatory, oppressive or abusive behaviour arising from the belief that disabled people are inferior to others".[10]

In 2014 Scope ran a campaign called End The Awkward fronted by comedian Alex Brooker. The campaign used comedy to shine a light on the awkwardness that many people feel about disability.[11] Scope's End The Awkward campaign continued in 2015 when they teamed up with Channel 4 to run a series of short films entitled What Not to Do, which demonstrated how not to behave in situations including a blind date, a job interview and at the hairdressers.[12] Scope also created an A-Z of sex and disability.[13]

In 2016 Scope launched their third year of End The Awkward where they introduced their H.I.D.E. concept — a mnemonic which stands for: Say 'Hi'; Introduce yourself; Don't panic; End the awkward — to encourage people to talk to disabled people rather than avoid them.[14]

In 2017 Scope partnered with Virgin Media to run their Work With Me and Support To Work efforts, providing online advice and support for disabled people seeking work.[15][16][17]


N.S.S. news : the monthly magazine of the National Spastics Society, ran from 1953 to 1958 and became:

Spastics news : magazine of the National Spastics Society, ran from 1958 to 1984 and became:

Disability now, ran from 1984 to 2012 (ceased publication).


  1. ^ "Social model of disability". Scope.
  2. ^ Davies, Chris (April 2001). "Beginnings". Changing Society: A Personal History of Scope (Formerly The Spastics Society) 1952–2002. Scope. p. 19. ISBN 0946828962.
  3. ^ "History". Scope.
  4. ^ "TDS The School". Thomas Delarue School. Retrieved 26 July 2011.
  5. ^ a b "Special school to be run by private healthcare company". WS County Times.
  6. ^ a b Hargreaves, Bill (2002). Can You Manage Stares? The Life of Bill Hargreaves. Scope. ISBN 0946828954. Archived from the original on 6 January 2007.
  7. ^ Rose, Damon (31 March 2014). "Formerly known as the Spastics Society: The importance of charity names". BBC Ouch!.
  9. ^ Preston, Rob (18 December 2018). "Scope's workforce to go from 3,000 to 800 over two years". Civil Society. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
  10. ^ Benjamin, Alison (26 May 2004). "Bridging the gap". The Guardian.
  11. ^ Harris, Scott Jordan (4 August 2015). "How to behave with disabled people: A new guide tells you what to do". The Independent. Archived from the original on 12 November 2020. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  12. ^ "Channel 4 and Scope partner for Shorts series starring Alex Brooker – Channel 4 – Info – Press". Channel 4. 21 July 2016. Archived from the original on 26 July 2015. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  13. ^ Hinde, Natasha (30 October 2015). "People With Disabilities Share Sex Stories To End Stigma Once And For All". HuffPost. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  14. ^ Jardine, Alexandra (19 September 2016). "'Hide' When You See a Disabled Person, Says U.K. Charity Ad – Video – Creativity Online". Creativity Online. Archived from the original on 21 September 2016. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  15. ^ Carter, Claire (3 October 2017). "I've got a good degree and great CV but I've been turned down for 250 jobs because I'm blind". The Mirror. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  16. ^ Vizard, Sarah (9 July 2019). "Virgin Media tackles disability employment crisis". Marketing Week.
  17. ^ "Partnership with Scope". Virgin Media.

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