Four in 10 young people say they've witnessed a disabled person being bullied

2 December 2015

A worrying four in 10 (40%) young people have witnessed a disabled person being bullied, according to new findings from Leonard Cheshire Disability and The Scout Association.

The research, carried out by ComRes, also found that two thirds (66%) of young people would be confident enough to step in to help if they saw a disabled person being bullied.

Over eight in 10 (81%) of Scouts saying they would help if they saw someone in trouble.

A recent report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission found ‘disabled young people were particularly affected by bullying’.

This research marks the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December 2015 and is part of The Scout Association’s campaign — ‘A Million Hands’ — which is enlisting half a million Scouts to volunteer for some of the UK’s biggest charities, including Leonard Cheshire Disability.

Scouts chose to focus on disability as part of ‘A Million Hands’ because there is a lot of evidence to show disabled people experience significantly more exclusion than non-disabled people.

This can lead to reduced independence and social isolation.

Today’s findings found an overwhelming majority of young people (94% of Scouts and 87% of other young people) are concerned about the quality of life of disabled people.

And they know to ‘some extent’ or a ‘great extent’ the daily barriers faced by disabled people (94% of Scouts and 87% of other young people).

The research from polls of 1,000 young people and 1,005 scouts in the UK between the ages of 12 and 24 found almost three quarters (73%) of Scouts participate in social action at least once every week, compared to over a third (37%) of other young people.

Hannah, 24 from Berkshire said:

‘I was bullied at secondary school. My so-called friends left a letter on my table explaining that they were only hanging around with me because of my disability perks, and they didn't like me.

‘It continued at university when I was also emotionally abused by a carer. Sadly, I was singled out and targeted because of my disability and it affected my confidence and self-esteem at the time.

‘I have volunteered all my life, and currently help out at a children’s hospital as a radio DJ.

‘There are already lots of young people taking action in their communities, but there’s potential to do more.

‘Helping to raise awareness of bullying, and its affects, would hopefully make someone think twice before saying or doing something hurtful.’

Leonard Cheshire Disability’s chief executive, Clare Pelham, said:

‘This gives us great hope for the future. Our research shows nine out of 10 young people know about the daily barriers faced by disabled people and are concerned about their quality of life.

‘We are delighted our partners The Scout Association are supporting young people with knowledge and skills about how they can make a practical difference in their daily lives.

‘The young people are an example of the ongoing legacy from London 2012, and great work done by young people in changing attitudes and raising awareness in Britain today.’

Jack Abrey, Chair of The Scout Association’s Community Impact Group, which is leading the ‘A Million Hands‘ campaign, said:

‘Young people have the potential to create positive and meaningful social change, and we’re excited to be working with Leonard Cheshire Disability to equip Scouts of all ages with the knowledge and tools to take action to improve the lives of those disabled by society.

‘Our research shows young people engaged in volunteering have a higher awareness and appetite to address challenging issues, and at Scouts we are focused on giving young people the confidence to know they can make a difference in creating a better, more inclusive society.’

Scout groups will be visiting disabled residents and day centre users at Leonard Cheshire Disability’s care services nationwide in the lead up to Christmas to participate in carol singing and to help out at Christmas fairs.

The series of events, marking the ‘A Million Hands’ partnership between Leonard Cheshire Disability and The Scout Association, aim to build lasting ties between groups in local communities.

Media enquiries

For Leonard Cheshire Disability interviews and media enquires please email Afsheen Latif or call 020 3242 0389. Out-of-hours: 07903 949 388.
For The Scouts interviews and media enquires please email Andrew Thorp or call 020 8433 7211.

Notes to editors 

About the research

ComRes interviewed 1,000 young people in the UK aged between 12 and 24 online between the 7 and 19 August 2014.

The data was weighted to be nationally representative of all young people in the UK aged between 12 and 24 by age, gender and region.

ComRes also interviewed 1,005 Scouts members in the UK aged between 12 and 24 online between the 7 and 21 August 2014.

ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

View the full sets of data.

About ‘A Million Hands’ campaign

The ‘A Million Hands’ campaign is enlisting half a million Scouts to work with some of the UK’s biggest charities — Mind, Alzheimer’s Society, WaterAid, Guide Dogs and Leonard Cheshire Disability, and The Canal & River Trust — over the next three years.

The charities were chosen by Scouts themselves, reflecting what they care about.

Over the next three years each Scout group across the country will be encouraged to make a pledge on how they are going to support these charities and ultimately take action on:

  • Improving the lives of those affected by dementia.
  • Improving the lives of those disabled by society.
  • Improving the mental wellbeing and resilience of families.
  • Ensuring everyone everywhere has access to clean water and sanitation.

For further information on ‘A Million Hands’ you can visit their website

 About Leonard Cheshire Disability

Leonard Cheshire Disability is the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of services for disabled people. Our services include high-quality care and community support together with innovative projects supporting disabled people into education, employment and entrepreneurship. Worldwide, our global alliance of Cheshire partners supports disabled people into education and employment, and works in more than 50 countries. With over 7,000 staff, the charity supports over 4,600 disabled people in the UK. 

About The Scout Association

The Scout Association was founded on 1 August 1907.

Adventure is at the core of Scouting, and the association passionately believes in helping their members fulfil their full physical, intellectual, social and spiritual potentials by working in teams, learning by doing and thinking for themselves.

Over 200 activities are offered by Scouting around the UK, made possible by the efforts of more than 100,000 volunteer leaders. This has helped make Scouting the largest co-educational youth movement in the country.

One of the challenges that the Scout movement faces is finding more volunteers to plug the current gap. At present there are over 40,000 young people on waiting lists across the UK.

Adults working in Scouting contribute in excess of 364 million hours of voluntary work each year to their local communities.

The number of volunteers working for Scouting is bigger than the combined workforces of the BBC (20,000) and McDonalds (67,000).

Worldwide, Scouting has 40 million members both male and female and operates in nearly every country in the world.

For further information about UK Scouting, please visit their website.