news analysis of a new book from Scope taking a critical look at their history

David Brown
describes the thinking behind a book from the charity that
does not shy away from self-criticism.

This week cerebral palsy charity Scope launched a new book to
mark its 50th anniversary. It charts the history of the
organisation and the changing image of disability in the eyes of
the public.

Scope started as the National Spastics Society, set up by three
parents and a social worker with just five pounds. Today it is has
a £70m turnover and employs more than 3,500 staff.

The book is no conventional corporate history and instead offers
users the chance to express their views and, while there is praise
for the organisation’s achievements, there is criticism too.

Author Chris Davies, who has had a lifelong relationship with
Scope, says: “Not even its severest critics would claim that Scope
has done more harm than good. But it must be said that it has done
some harmful things, even though the harm is only clear in
retrospect. Scope valued segregation for too long. Countless people
have been isolated through education, accommodation and

Criticism from users includes claims that in the past the
charity has encouraged negative attitudes towards disabled people
and that it is dominated by the parents of disabled people rather
than those with disabilities themselves.

Davies adds: “If disabled people are increasingly considered
equal in our society then part of that equality must include
recognition of our capability to control our own affairs.”

– Changing Society is available from Scope at  

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