When it works, it works

This story shows that with the right support in place, anyone can live an independent life. However, even in this case, not everything is covered.

Gavin works for Capability Scotland's Renfrewshire Work For All project, assisting parents and carers of disabled children to access education, training and employment, and for Workforce Plus in Paisley.

He has a support package of care through the Independent Living Fund, which he also contributes to, the support being provided by the Richmond Fellowship. The housing is a new initiative organised through the Local Authority, a local housing association and Richmond.

He has support to get ready for work in the morning - "I can't put my shoes on myself because I wear leg supports, or manage to do my shirt up - the small things other people take for granted." They return to help prepare his evening meal and return again in the evening to help prepare for bed.

''I am one of the lucky ones. Some people have support plans that are fairly rigid, with a set routine - but people's lives are not like that. It can mean that they miss out on a lot. As a result they may be excluded from socialising, further education (i.e. evening classes) or doing voluntary work."

Public transport is one of the barriers Gavin does encounter in his daily life. He finds most forms of public transport inaccessible and relies on support from family members and taxis to get around. "Traveling independently is very difficult for me, my disability is a double whammy - I can't see the bus numbers and would have trouble getting on with my walking frame. Other services, such as Dial-a-Bus are limited and don't run in the evenings".

Hospital appointments can be difficult and although in some cases the hospital can provide transport, this rarely meets people's needs. Often, to use the service, "you have to wait around a lot and if you have work commitments, this just isn't an option."

Lack of accessible transport also prevents disabled people from fully participating in their local community. Gavin says. "It cuts across all ages - whether you want to go to cub scouts, or join the local choir."

Having been through the further and higher education system Gavin knows the difficulties- "the opportunities are out there but it's finding out about them - and then being able to get there and work out how to get funding! I manage to work full-time. In the past I worked for Citizens Advice Bureau over a six-year period so I know how the system works. Many disabled people would like to work part-time but it's not worth it financially as they would have to pay full rent and council tax."

There needs to be more incentives to support disabled people back to work and they need to be able to better influence national and local policy and services.