13/03/2013 17:30 GMT | Updated 13/05/2013 06:12 BST

Laughing at Disability

Let's face it, we've all heard people making fun of disability. Some comedians even make a habit of making disabled people the butt of cruel, thoughtless jokes.

It's not that we can't joke about the subject, but the challenge is to get people to think, to consider the point that comedians are trying to make - the reality behind the humour. Too often it's just a thoughtless punch-line involving a derogatory word.

But I suppose it all stems from ignorance of what disability - both mental and physical - is all about. My understanding was accelerated through my association with Scope, which started almost by accident.

Back in 2004, I wanted to run the marathon (I thought it was about time) - so when a friend of mine told me they'd secured a guaranteed place with the charity, I decided to do the same.

I wasn't aware of all the great things that Scope do when I first began fundraising for them by running that marathon, but since then I've become increasingly more involved with their campaigns.

I also visited one of the three specialist schools they've set up for disabled people and became even more inspired by their work. Over time fundraising for them has really become more of a personal commitment.

Across this time I've also come to better understand disability, which is one of the key aims of Scope too. They want to change the way society views disabled people for the better by campaigning tirelessly for their rights and access to opportunities.

The charity's other roles include improving access to care and services for disabled people, and offering valued support to their families and carers.

I count myself privileged to be involved with a charity that is so committed to achieving equality for disabled people - uniquely special people who can teach us so much and I hope I can inspire people to think about these issues through my comedy.

I also realised that my gigs presented me with a good fundraising opportunity when I decided to give away free programmes, which I then ask for contributions for.

Making a donation towards the cost of a programme is voluntary so gig-goers get a free programme if they want but people are amazingly generous. As you can see by the amount of money we've been able to raise - more than £170,000 to date.

I'm lucky enough to have a small but dedicated band of followers and if that means I can help raise awareness of disability issues and raise some money for those who need it, then that's a good thing, but what I really admire is the amazing work done by the army of people working or running or climbing mountains for Scope and all the other charities out there.

It's these people that help charities survive the difficult times we live in; that reach out to those who need our help. So do support whatever cause you can, in whatever way you can.

Richard Herring is shortlisted as a Huffington Post UK Celebrity Fundraiser of the Year. You can vote for him here.