The National Spastics Society, as Scope was then known, was formally inaugurated at a meeting in central London almost exactly sixty-five years ago. Three pioneering, ambitious and determined parents and an equally courageous social worker came together, united by a shared dissatisfaction of the education available to their own children, and others with cerebral palsy.

Their expectations were high but their demands were far from unreasonable in essence, they wanted an opportunity for people with cerebral palsy to access education and employment and to have an equal place within society. Seven decades later, while there has been progress, life remains incredibly tough for many disabled people – everyday equality is far from the reality experienced by many.

Radical change

It is against this backdrop that we have been asking searching questions about Scope’s role, purpose and relevance. It was with this question of ‘relevance’ at the front of our mind that we knew that the conclusion had to be radical if we were to grow our relationship with a far larger proportion of the 13 million disabled people in the UK.

"In transferring, we hope to secure the future of these services for those that want to continue to use them – they deliver great outcomes but it would be difficult to argue they achieve Scope’s core purpose of everyday equality for all disabled people... We want to create the platform that allows disabled people, through Scope, to drive change."

For more than 20 years Scope has moved away from being an impairment or condition specific organisation. We exist to drive social change so that all disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else. Our new strategy places Scope as a social change organisation.

Scope has chosen to become a truly mission-led organisation and as a result stop, exit or transfer everything else. Over the coming months we plan to transfer all our regulated and day services – that includes our residential care homes, supported living services, schools, a college, a children’s home, a children’s centre, respite and short break services, community and day services and a fostering service and much more – to other experienced providers who will invest, develop and grow them over the coming years. So much of the estate and current services offer that was built over the decades following the birth of the National Spastics Society will no longer be part of the organisation.

"Our direct offer to disabled people and their families will be a small suite of products and services that build resilience, skills and knowledge. They will be there at key moments in a disabled person’s life, and they will largely be delivered through digital channels and centred around information, advice and support."

In transferring, we hope to secure the future of these services for those that want to continue to use them – they deliver great outcomes but it would be difficult to argue they achieve Scope’s core purpose of everyday equality for all disabled people. This move will also allow Scope to refocus on doing less, reaching more and having greater impact. By our own admission this is a radical and complex change. We know that this change comes with considerable risk but none greater than doing nothing – sitting tight and hoping that we can balance our responsibilities as a provider of statutory services and at the same time a campaigner, or that somehow we can make ends meet through the latest round of budget cuts despite a fundamental crisis in the statutory funding of social care and education.

We want to be known for being a social change organisation a force that brings us ever closer to everyday equality. We will focus on the areas in which disabled people face the greatest barriers and move away from being a charity that ‘does’ to one that ‘facilitates’. We want to create the platform that allows disabled people, through Scope, to drive change.

Transformative principles 

We are determined to ensure there is a perfect fit between our influencing work and our direct services offer. Our direct offer to disabled people and their families will be a small suite of products and services that build resilience, skills and knowledge. They will be there at key moments in a disabled person’s life, and they will largely be delivered through digital channels and centred around information, advice and support. At the same time, we will seek to influence public policy, change attitudes, disrupt markets and improve the structures within society by ensuring the needs and experiences of disabled people are front and centre.

We have considerable work to do in changing Scope before we can claim this transformation to be an example that others should follow. But the principle of being driven and motivated by core purpose and social impact rather than income or size is important for others to learn from. Too often charities who claim to be radical and pioneering are in reality cautious and conservative and unable, or possibly unprepared, to take difficult decisions that are in the long-term interest of the organisation.