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theweeksubA protest outside the offices of a major disability charity has increased the pressure to close all of its special schools and residential homes.

The protest outside Scope’s north London offices was part of the Reclaiming Our Futures week of campaigning action led by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC).

Activists from DPAC, Black Triangle and the Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE) called on the charity to close its three special schools, commit to a fully inclusive education system, and close its “institutionalised and segregated” residential homes.

After speaking with Tara Flood, ALLFIE’s chief executive, a Scope director promised her a meeting to discuss the issue of inclusive education before the end of the year.

Flood said she had been trying to push Scope towards inclusive education for more than 10 years, and had even persuaded the charity to sign up to ALLFIE’s inclusive education charter in 2005.

But she said: “For more than 10 years, there has been platitude after platitude about equality for disabled people and social change.

“ALLFIE has offered them support for the last seven or eight years to help them move towards it.

“We have been asking for a meeting for seven-and-a-half years to discuss what it would take to move towards that.”

The week of action was leading up to the launch of a new disabled people’s manifesto, mapping out key demands that disabled people, their organisations and allies can use in their campaigning and lobbying in the run-up to the 2015 general election.

One of the manifesto’s demands is for a fully inclusive education system.

Scope currently runs three special schools, a specialist further education college, and 32 residential homes.

A Scope spokesman said: “We had a really constructive conversation with representatives from DPAC today. We share their aims. We want genuine inclusion and independence.

“We have committed to meeting them again to discuss inclusive education and independent living.

“For us changing a service, such as a residential home, is not something that can be done without a great deal of consideration as it is often hard for the disabled people, families and staff involved.

“Our challenge is striking the balance between taking the time to manage change properly whilst not using this as an excuse to change too slowly.”

5 September 2013

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