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Top 10 Organisations Supporting the Disabled (United Kingdom)

On the 30th of March in 2007, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was signed. The international human rights treaty is intended to protect the dignity and the rights of all persons with disabilities. Parties to the Convention are required to ensure those with disabilities receive the full employment of human rights and are considered equals under the law. It came into full force on the 3rd of May 2008 and of early 2018, it had 161 signatories and 177 parties. The first article of the Convention defines its purpose, and it states:

“to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.”

It has many years since the UN Convention came into force, but it still seems like we are some way from achieving equality for people with disabilities. People with disabilities are often treated with awkwardness, prejudice, and in some developing countries, in an inhumane fashion. This can make some people with disabilities feel like they are less than human. Travel the world, and you will see a vast difference in the way people with disabilities are considered, in some cases, despite the UN Convention, they are treated with utter disdain. This is simply not good enough.

There needs to be a shift in attitudes towards those with disabilities, no matter their condition. They should be engaged with as equals, and have channels where their voices can be heard. It is encouraging that those with disabilities are leading the charge to raise awareness in the fight for their rights. However, in many countries, people don't even get the chance to stand up for their dignity, as the disabled are locked up in institutions, or treat like animals. Thankfully there are many wonderful organisations that are dedicated to fighting for disabled rights, ensuring individuals are integrated into society and given equal opportunities to seek employment, education, and an independent life. Here are the top ten organisations, dedicated to enriching the lives of disabled people.

1 Mencap UK-based organisation, Mencap was founded in 1946 with the aim of working towards a world where those with a learning disability are valued equally, where their voice is listened to, and where they are included. Despite progress in recent decades, individuals with a learning disability are still facing inequality in all areas of their lives. Mencap tirelessly campaigns for better support and services for those that need it. Their express mission is to improve the quality of life of those with learning disabilities and provide support to their families, as well as to change societies attitude towards learning disability as a whole.

They work to achieve their mission to see a change for the better in five key ways:
- Making a positive change in the lives of those with learning disabilities right now.
- Improve the health and well-being of individuals with learning disabilities.
- Change attitudes by raising public awareness.
- Fostering and supporting friendships and relationships.
- Making sure children have the best start in life.

Mencap is a truly inclusive organisation, that will challenge unfair and prejudiced treatment wherever they see it, in their work towards a better future.

Official website: Mencap
2 International Disability Alliance Founded in 1999, the International Disability Alliance is an organisation based in Geneva and New York, which works towards a more inclusive global environment for disability organisations and disabled individuals. The organisation is an alliance of networks, bringing over 1,000 disability organisations and their families together, from across six regional and eight global networks. The very basis of their work is with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, making sure it is implemented in its entirety. They do this through coordination and communication of disability organisations, at regional, and national, and international levels.

The International Disability Alliance represents around 1 billion people throughout the world living with disabilities, to ensure that they are not overlooked or marginalised. They work with the likes of UNICEF, the UN General Assembly, the World Bank, and the World Health Organisation, to that the human rights of people with disabilities are upheld and respected everywhere and at all times. The organisation has representatives working in over 200 countries to help develop sustainable frameworks, for their disability advocacy work throughout the world.

Official website: International Disability Alliance
3 Business Disability Forum The Business Disability Forum is a non-profit organisation that helps those with disabilities to find meaningful employment. They achieve this goal by bringing together government officials, disabled opinion leaders, and business organisations, to help to understand what needs to change, for those with disabilities to be treated fairly in the working world. This gives individuals with the disabilities an opportunity to contribute to a successful workforce and economic growth. They provide support, share advice an experience, and training and networking opportunities for organisations, so they can become truly accessible for disabled employees and customers.

The Business Disability Forum is UK-based and has over two decades experience in the public and private sector, making it simpler and more rewarding for companies to employ disabled people. Their member organisations employ nearly 20% of the UK workforce, working together to remove any employment barriers. Furthermore, the Business Disability Forum has significantly contributed to the development of disability discrimination legislation in the United Kingdom.

Official website: Business Disability Forum
4 Scope UK-based disability charity Scope was founded in 1951 by a group of social workers and parents who were determined to ensure that disabled children were able to access a good education. Initially founded as a Cerebral Palsy charity, Scope now offers support and services to individuals with any disability or impairment. Ever since its formation, Scope has been campaigning to challenge negative attitudes towards disability, and change the prejudices that disabled people may face. The charity believes that there is a 'Social Model of Disability', meaning that individual is disabled by the barriers put before them by society and their prejudices and inequality, as opposed to their actual impairment. Scope has run a number of national campaigns to tackle negative attitudes, with one of their most famous being the 'End the Awkward' campaign, which challenged the statistic that as many as two-thirds of people feel awkward around those with a disability.

Scope aims to make the world a place where those with a disability have equal opportunities to everyone else. Until that becomes a reality, the charity is always available with information, advice, and support for anyone that requires it. Each year they provide services to more than a 250,000 people, whilst continuously campaigning to raise awareness and drive change.

Official website: Scope
5 Special Olympics Founded in 1968, the Special Olympics is an international organisation was founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver through her concern that children with learning disabilities had few opportunities to take part in sporting activities. What started as a small annual event at Camp Shriver, has since grown into the largest sports organisation for adults and children with learning difficulties. The Special Olympics has created a global movement of inclusion and community, working towards a world where everyone is accepted, no matter their ability or disability. Special Olympics athletes are the very heart of the organisation, and through it, they are finding friendship, joy, and success.

The Special Olympics currently has 4.9 million athletes of all ages, cultures, and races, across 172 countries throughout the world. They aim to reach out to the 200 million people in the world with learning disabilities, so they can feel empowered by their accomplishments. The organisation provides the highest standard of training and international competitions throughout the world, so the athletes can showcase their abilities, helping not only to change attitudes but to change lives as well. Through sport, people with learning disabilities gain confidence, improve their health, gain a real sense of achievement, and for life-long friendships. The Special Olympics aims to teach people with learning disabilities the determination and strength to achieve their goals.

Official website: Special Olympics
6 Shaw Trust Since it's formation in 1982, UK-based charity, the Shaw Trust has been helping disadvantaged and disabled people into employment and independent living. Over the past three decades, it has grown to become one of the UK's largest third sector providers of employment services for those with all kinds of disabilities. They also work internationally and hope that by the year 2022, they will be helping to transform the lives of 1 million adults and young people each year, by supporting them in the development of their true potential. They aim to achieve this goal through the work of their dedicated workforce of 3,500 employees and 1,000 volunteers. They liaise, with the government, combined authorities, local authorities, employers, and stakeholders – including the likes of NHS Trusts and the Department for Work and Pensions, amongst others.

The Shaw Trust carries out their work in 7 main areas:
- Learning and Skills
- Children's Services
- Employability
- Justice
- Community Health and Well-being
- Education
- Charitable Services and Enterprise

They work hard to help adults and young people to gain an education, enter the workforce, and to develop their career, something that is so important for helping to gain independence or rebuild their lives.

Official website: Shaw Trust
7 Humanity & Inclusion Formally known as Handicap International, Humanity & Inclusion was founded in 1982 in response to a vast number of Cambodian amputees, injured fleeing the Khmer Rouge regime. Two young doctors, using whatever materials they had to hand, made artificial limbs to aid in the survival of these vulnerable people. Soon rehabilitation centres were set up across the far east, where refugees were taught to create their own simple prosthesis. With the simplification of physical rehabilitation programs, the victims of landmines learned to walk again, and thanks to follow-up care, the post-op outcomes of amputees, were much improved. Despite, all this great work, Humanity & Inclusion, knew that they needed to do more.

Since the organisations early beginnings in Thailand, Humanity & Inclusion have greatly expanded their operations. Over time they have expanded into a global network, supporting vulnerable and disabled people in situations of exclusion, conflict, disaster, or poverty. Their team works tirelessly, and with the ultimate dedication, to help meet the needs of these people, and to ensure that their fundamental human rights are met, and they have adequate living conditions. The ultimate aim of Humanity & Inclusion is a world of inclusion and solidarity, where our differences are embraced, and everyone can live with dignity. Throughout the charity's history, they have directly benefited millions of people in over 60 countries around the world.

Official website: Humanity & Inclusion
8 Sightsavers Sightsavers was founded in 1950, by Sir John Wilson under its original name, British Empire Society for the Blind. In just the first year of operations, the society formed national organisations for the blind in six countries, with a focus on education, welfare, and rehabilitation. Since its inception, Sightsavers has worked towards their vision of a world where no one suffers from preventable blindness, and where those with disabilities can participate in society equally. They are working towards this goal in three key ways:

Preventing Avoidable Sight Loss – Sightsavers are preventing avoidable blindness in the most impoverished parts of the world, by diagnosing and treating conditions, such as cataracts. Additionally, the organisation fights to eliminate the neglected tropical diseases, river blindness, and trachoma.

Equal Opportunities for the Disabled – Sightsavers believes that everyone should have the chance to 'learn, earn and be happy'. They help disabled children attend school, provide vocational training, and constantly campaign to raise awareness of disability rights.

Work with Governments – By interacting with governments around the world, Sightsavers can tackle the issues at the root of preventable blindness, including education and access to clean water. By working with local communities, long-term changes can be made to provide support to those who need it most.

This charitable organisation, uses a rights-based approach, to work towards a world, where all people can all people can access education, employment, and health, without the fear of discrimination of stigma.

Official website: Sightsavers
9 United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) United Cerebral Palsy started in 1949, when a group of concerned parents joined forces, looking for help and answers for their disabled children. In the first few decades after inception, the UCP campaigned against the horrific treatment and living conditions of those with disabilities, which eventually led to the release of thousands of people from unsuitable institutions. Since then, they have continued to push for the right protections and policies, that will ensure 'fair and full citizenship for people with disabilities'.

The mission of UCP has always been to advance the productivity and independence of people with disabilities, and they do this through their affiliate network. With the help of 65 affiliates, the UCP provides services and supports for more than 175,000 adults and children, with a variety of disabilities, each day. Inclusion and independence are key themes of the work of the UCP, to allow those with disabilities to achieve their dreams and reach their potential. To help those with disabilities learn more about leading a fulfilled life, the UCP provides an online resource and community called 'My Child Without Limits', which gives caregivers and parents a place to exchange information and advice.

Official website: United Cerebral Palsy
10 Leonard Cheshire Disability Founded in 1948, by RAF Officer Leonard Cheshire, the namesake organisation is a large health and welfare charity, with projects across the United Kingdom and throughout the world. The mission of Leonard Cheshire Disability is to empower and encourage disabled people towards independent living. Led by experienced disability workers, the organisation supports individuals through local care services, providing the lives of domiciliary support, activity centres, respite care, supported living, residential homes, transition services, and skills and employment support.

To fully achieve their goals they form partnerships with organisations that share their aims and values. Affiliate organisations, include the likes of non-profits, businesses, DPOs, global agencies, and governments. Through research and insights from the disabled community, they develop innovative programmes that will influence positive changes for those living with disabilities, all over the world.

Official website: Leonard Cheshire Disability

It has been reported by the World Health Organisation that 1 billion people in the world have a disability. Therefore, there is a very good chance that you know at least one person with a disability. That could be your friends, your co-worker, or even a relative – how would you feel, if these people you know, were treated with prejudice? We need to learn that a disability does not define a person. Whilst a disability may be something that impacts the lives of an individual, it should never present them with a barrier to living an enriched, independent, and fair life.