Scope is the disability organisation in England and Wales whose focus is people with cerebral palsy. Scope’s aim is that disabled people achieve equality: a society in which they are as valued and have the same human and civil rights as everyone else.


Scope was founded in 1952 by a group of parents – Ian Dawson-Shepherd, Eric Hodgson, Alex Moira and a social worker – Jean Garwood. In 1952 it was known as the National Spastics Society and in 1963 this merged with the British Council for the Welfare of Spastics to become The Spastics Society.

The first Scope residential service was opened in 1953 and the first Scope school in 1955. 1970 saw the opening of the first Scope shop.

In 1994, the 40th anniversary year, The Spastics Society Annual General Meeting voted in favour of a name change, and the organisation relaunched itself under the name Scope. The word “spastic” had become a term of abuse and was seen as being an out-of-date label whereas Scope was a forward-looking name and would illustrate the way in which the organisation was trying to broaden its aims and horizons.

In 1996 Scope’s AGM voted in favour of an individual membership scheme to give a voice to the 25,000 people that Scope and its local groups are in contact with every year. Scope celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2002 with the publication, “Changing Society: a personal history of Scope”, available on the Scope website.


Scope is governed by an Executive Council, which is made up of Trustees. Most are disabled people who are elected by Scope’s members. Advising and supporting the Executive Council is Scope’s Executive Management Board (EMB) which is made up of Scope’s Chief Executive and Executive Directors, each of whom take us responsibility for a specific area of Scope’s work.

Scope has approximately 3,800 paid staff and over 15,000 people volunteering every year. The organisation has an annual turnover of around £90 million.

Services – an overview

Scope provides practical services in areas such as:

Learning for Life (Education and Early Years – for pre-school and young disabled people)

The aim is the promotion of inclusion, and the goal is for children with cerebral palsy to have the opportunity to participate in mainstream education.

Scope runs a small number of schools and a college. Their aim is to see them work in conjunction with other areas of Scope and with local education authorities to deliver an agreed and consistent approach in the provision of high-quality inclusive education and support for children and young people with cerebral palsy.

Independent Living (daily living services for adults)

Scope is a provider of community residential accommodation, care and support for disabled adults. The aim is to ensure people with cerebral palsy have control over the way they live and to share in the everyday enjoyments, challenges and responsibilities which most of us take for granted.

Employment Support

The emphasis is on enabling disabled people to consider the employment or training option that best suits their individual needs and abilities. The aim is to assist disabled people to progress as far as possible towards sustained integrated employment. We want disabled people to find and keep work that matches their skills, experiences and aspirations.

Community Development Teams

These new services:

  • Build strategic partnerships with statutory and voluntary bodies
  • Support local disability groups (internal and external to Scope)
  • Develop local services and projects (which will be financially self-sustainable)
  • Promote Time to Get Equal campaigns
  • Campaign on local and regional issues

What else does Scope do?

In 2004 Scope launched the Time To Get Equal campaign from a survey commissioned in 2004 to assess public attitudes to disability and disabled people showed a huge lack of awareness among the general public.

The campaign has three aims:

  • To raise awareness of the problems and barriers faced by disabled people in their everyday lives
  • To demand an improvement in the attitudes and actions that disabled people experience
  • To build a mass movement of disabled and non-disabled people campaigning and working for equality.

Scope also publish Disability Now – “the UK’s biggest selling disability related newspaper. We publish a fortnightly publication and run this website. We cover the latest news stories, bring you comment from the UK’s most influential disabled campaigners, guide you through the latest developments in motoring and equipment and offer a selection of lifestyle and arts features.”

2 comments to Scope

  • Austen

    Hi Marion. Sounds like your family are having a very difficult time and I would love to be in a position to advice you but I have no experience in this area I’m afraid. I may be stating the blindingly obvious here but have you been in touch with Scope? They have a forum area on their website which might be worth a go – Alternatively you can call their freephone number 0808 800 3333 or email

    If anyone else reading this post can help then please post a comment.


  • VictoriaW

    My niece Lindsay who is now in her thirties has been mentally handicapped from she was a very young child. She was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy after they discovered that as a baby, instead of putting Lindsay under the ultra violet lights for jaundice, they put another baby who was just slightly jaundiced under instead from then her brain was damaged. It has affected her speech centres more than anything and this has obviously affected her ability to communicate with others, although her family can make out what she is trying to say. When she is well she is very aware, she was going to a day centre, she had her hobbies, she helped her mum in the house doing household chores and she is also part of a very loving family, but just over the past year she has gone downhill fast, she would not eat, drink or participate in anything. My brother and sister-in-law eventually had to ask for help, and the social work sent in carers to give them some kind of respite because Lindsay’s behaviour was becoming very challenging, ripping her clothes, not eating, drinking, washing, biting and self harming and also some times biting her carers. Eventually she was put into a care facility nearby, but this did not work and eventually the psychiatrist advised that she should go into a mental health facility. My brother and sister-in-law live in Great Yarmouth and the nearest mental health hospital they could get her into was St Pauls Hospital in Gloucester a three and half hour drive. The first week she was in St Paul’s she was transferred to the General Hospital for five days to get her hydrated, then she was sent back to St Pauls. When my brother and his wife went down to see her on Tuesday 9 Feb, they were totally distraught when they came back. She was in a room with four older women all heavily medicated and they were just pacing back and forwards. Lindsay is now below 7 stone, and skeletal she was unwashed, her feet were black and you can imagine how my brother and his wife felt. They recognise that she is very difficult but it does not help them seeing her like this. Lindsay has carers with her 24 hours, but they are not qualified to enlighten my family what is happening to her, all they said was that she had taken some drinks but still not eating. My brother and sister-in-law also asked about visitors, and the carers said that they didn’t know because no one visits the patients in that particular unit. There was no one there qualified to talk to, the nurse in charge was on holiday. That is not to say that there are not charge nurses in the other units, but they felt completely helpless. What they needed more than anything was someone that would talk to them, tell them what steps they would be taking to get Lindsay back to health, but they were just left hanging. There may have been comments like, “don’t come down to see her right away, give her time to settle”, but that is all. She is now sectioned under the Mental Health Act for 28 days. When that is up she will be sectioned for 6 months, and my brother is at the end of his tether and would like to take her out and home and seek alternative help after 28 days. Lindsay is a woman who has been loved and cared for all her life and there is no way that my brother and sister-in-law would just abandon her in this institution. Can you give any advice at all, on what they should do and what steps they can take? I am not butting in we all agreed that we would all try and seek advice from organisations who have experience in this field.

    Kindest Regards

    Marion Whyte