As anyone with a disability will know, there is no end to the number of challenges facing people who are living with long-term physical and/or mental conditions. Fortunately, however, we now live in an age when there is more help available for the UK’s disabled population than ever before, with a huge array of charities providing guidance and practical support to all those who need it.
From awarding grants to assist with the purchase of vital equipment like folding mobility scooters to simply being a friendly voice at the end of the phone, there are many ways that Britain’s various disability-focused charities act as a lifeline for some of the country’s most vulnerable people. Below, we will tell you about five organisations which we think are doing a particularly amazing job.
Telephone: 0808 800 3333
One of the most well-known and respected charities in the UK, Scope is perhaps most closely associated with cerebral palsy (CP), a mobility disorder that is often debilitating. In recent years, however, Scope has shifted its focus from just CP to all kinds of disability, which has opened its services up to many more people.
First established in the early 1950s, Scope has true ‘grassroots’ origins, having been founded by a small group of parents – assisted by a social worker – who were disillusioned by the educational disadvantages they felt their children living with CP were being placed at. Today, the charity has expanded and diversified, but its core values remain unchanged; as Scope themselves state, ‘we won’t stop until we achieve a society where all disabled people enjoy equality and fairness’.
There are many ways in which Scope offers support to a wide range of people, with some of the most popular including employment advice for disabled workers and job seekers, workshops that help children with disabilities improve their sleeping patterns, community engagement programmes and, of course, an invaluable helpline that provides general support to all disabled people, free of charge.
Telephone: 01543 462 777
Of all the charities working in the UK today, Newlife is surely one which will strike an emotional chord with more people than almost any other. Dedicated to improving the lives of young people with disabilities, this Staffordshire-based organisation has helped many thousands of families cope with the inevitable difficulties that accompany a child being diagnosed with a serious medical condition.
As well as a free helpline that allows parents and carers to talk with experienced nurses about everything relating to their situation, where Newlife is most highly valued is in its ability to provide children who need it with specialist equipment that, in many cases, can be totally life-changing.
Funded by donations and the sale of goods in their retail outlets, Newlife matches children with products such as adapted beds, buggies, seats and wheelchairs, all of which could make a big difference to their day-to-day comfort and happiness. This hugely important charity steps in when statutory support does not cover these much-needed items, or when families would face an excessive wait for the products that could make such a positive change to their children’s lives.
Telephone: 01904 550055
Whilst Newlife provides disability-friendly equipment to children with long-term medical conditions, Family Fund – which was set up by the government in 1973 – focuses on the whole family unit and prides itself on helping parents get through financial hardship.
The principle underpinning Family Fund is that caring for children with disabilities often leaves families (particularly those who already have low incomes) short of money and that this can create a great deal of emotional pressure. As such, the discretionary grants provided by this charity really do have a vital role to play in keeping households together.
In 2018, Family Fund gave out £33 million worth of grants to nearly 90,000 families across the UK, which was put to a wide range of uses. Just some of the many things that eligible low-income recipients were able to use their grants for included white goods, toys, clothes, furniture and even much-needed holidays.
Telephone: 020 3342 0200
Leonard Cheshire, founded by a former RAF officer after the Second World War, is a charity whose main objective is to make life as normal as possible for both children and adults living with all kinds of disabilities.
This organisation acknowledges that disabled people do have different physical and emotional needs to others but argues that there is no reason why these diverse requirements should not be met by those who are able to help. As such, Leonard Cheshire offers many different forms of support to its clients, all of which are geared towards promoting individuality, freedom and rewarding life experiences.
Examples of the services Leonard Cheshire specialise in include everything from helping disabled jobseekers put their CVs together to providing full-time residential care in one of their 100 or so dedicated homes. The charity certainly has a wide remit, but the approach behind every bit of assistance it delivers – large or small – is the same: to allow people with all forms of disability to achieve self-respect and lead truly fulfilling lives.
Telephone: 01372 841100
The Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People (QEF) has a similar ethos to Leonard Cheshire in that it helps people of all ages realise their potential, regardless of the nature and extent of their physical or mental disabilities.
What sets QEF apart from many of its peers is just how sophisticated its facilities are, with one example being a large, private complex which is used for all sorts of mobility-related courses and programmes, such as driving lessons in specially adapted cars and mobility scooter training.
This is just one area in which QEF are experts, however, with some of the other services their team offers including mock aeroplane flights to see how people with certain disabilities who haven’t flown before would cope with air travel, as well as an excellent rehabilitation centre for people who have suffered illnesses or accidents that have impaired their neurological functioning.