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

  • Two thirds of young people said they would have the confidence to step in to help a disabled person being bullied
  • Scouts are even more likely to step in with 8 in 10 saying they would have the confidence to help
  • Research released ahead of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3, 2015

a million handsA worrying four in ten (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, with over eight in ten (81%) Scouts saying they would help if they saw someone in trouble. A recent report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that “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, which can lead to reduced independence and social isolation. Today’s findings found an overwhelming majority of young people (94 per cent of Scouts and 87 per cent of other young people) are concerned about the quality of life of disabled people, and know to ‘some extent’ or a ‘great extent’ the daily barriers faced by disabled people (94 per cent of Scouts and 87 per cent 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 that 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 disc jockey. 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 effects, 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 that nine out of ten young people know about the daily barriers faced by disabled people and are concerned about their quality of life.

“We are delighted that 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 that 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 that 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.

About A Million Hands

The 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. For further information on A Million Hands, please click on the following link:

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. Visit

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