Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Trailblazers network has a new home from today at pan-disability charity Whizz-Kidz.
Trailblazers – which was formed in 2007 – is a campaign group for young disabled people that aims to challenge the barriers in society that stop disabled people from living full and independent lives. The group will continue to operate as usual, but through a new charity that has exciting plans for its future.
What has Trailblazers achieved?
The Trailblazers network has achieved so much since it was founded by Muscular Dystrophy UK in 2007.
The network has grown both in number and ambition. Initially established as a campaigning group, it is now also a source of peer support, and empowers young disabled people to understand and exercise their rights.
Since it started, Trailblazers has launched more than 20 campaigns on topics ranging from hate crime, to gaming, to going to university.
Some highlights include:
- Persuading EasyJet to remove restrictions on wheelchairs
- Working closely with Microsoft on the launch of an adaptive games controller
- Pushing Twitter to update its reporting feature to include disability hate speech for the first time
- Successfully campaigning to make it illegal for taxis to charge disabled passengers more
What do MDUK and Whizz-Kidz think?
At the start of the year we had exciting plans for Trailblazers’ further development. But the impact of COVID-19 means we cannot sustain that ambition. We are delighted that Trailblazers is moving to such a strong new home.
Rob Burley, Director of Campaigns, Care and Support at Muscular Dystrophy UK, says:
“We are so proud of everything that Trailblazers has achieved. While the network will no longer sit within the charity, we will continue to provide support to members with a muscle-wasting condition through the services we offer. And we remain committed to campaigning on important issues such as Changing Places toilets, access to treatments, and ensuring neuromuscular services are properly resourced.
“We are delighted that a pan-disability charity has become the new home for the network as this means it can continue on its exciting journey of growth and development.”
Joanna Fashan, Associate Director of Young People’s Services at Whizz-Kidz, says:
“We are very excited to be involved in the latest chapter of Trailblazers. We’re looking forward to working with their members to campaign for change for young disabled people all over the UK.
“We want to thank everyone at Muscular Dystrophy UK and all the young people involved for all their hard work. We hope to build on the amazing achievements the group have made over the years and go from strength to strength.”
How can Muscular Dystrophy UK support me?
We know how important it is to get the right information and support for your condition, and the following remain available to Trailblazers living with a muscle-wasting condition:
- Our Freephone helpline, which provides support and information
- Our advocacy service, which can help you get what you’re entitled to
- Our peer support service, where you can talk to people who know what you’re going through
- Our online forum, where you can speak to other people about the things that matter to you
- Our information factsheets, care plans and alert cards
We are also continuing to run our Moving Up programme, which offers work experience placements and other opportunities for young disabled people, as well as the chance to work with employers to improve employment prospects. The project will reopen to all young disabled people once staff return from furlough and employers can re-engage.
The network will continue to be open to all disabled young people who want to campaign for change. Its mission will remain the same: to challenge the barriers in society that stop disabled people from living full and independent lives.
Whizz-Kidz believes that every young disabled person has the right to a fun and active childhood, and the chance to develop their full potential in life. It provides disabled children and young people with vital mobility equipment, and life journey services, giving them opportunities to build friendships and have fun, and training to help them gain skills and look forward to a bright future.
If you engage with Trailblazers through Facebook and Twitter you don’t need to do anything, as Whizz-Kidz will simply take over the co-ordination of these platforms. If you are one of the 800 formal members of the network, Muscular Dystrophy UK will contact you with details about how to share your contact information with the team at Whizz-Kidz so that you can continue to receive updates and direct communication about Trailblazers once the handover is completed. Nobody’s data will be transferred between the two charities.
MDUK’s helpline, advocacy and peer-support services, and online forums all remain available to Trailblazers living with a muscle-wasting condition. We are continuing to run the Moving Up programme, which offers work experience placements and other opportunities for young disabled people, as well as the chance to work with employers to improve employment prospects.
We remain committed to campaigning on issues that matter to people living with muscle-wasting conditions. We will continue to campaign to ensure neuromuscular specialist services are resourced and supported and we continue to fight for access to emerging treatments for muscle-wasting conditions and are seeking an overhaul of the treatment approval process to ensure it is fit for purpose for rare conditions.
There are too many places in the UK without Changing Places toilets. Our role as co-chair of the Changing Places Consortium continues as we seek adequate provision of fully accessible toilets across the UK.
The Trailblazers network will remain open to all young disabled people, and there are no plans to change the age range it is open to.
MDUK will continue to provide the secretariat to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Young Disabled People and will work closely with Whizz-Kidz ahead of formally handing over the secretariat to them later in the year.