Weekly Poll – Support for Young People
Each week Disability Equality Scotland send out a poll question to our members on a topical issue. For the week beginning 24 May 2021, we asked a question about Support for Young People.
Question 1. Is there enough support in place to make independent living a reality for young disabled people in Scotland?
- YES – 2% (1 respondent)
- NO – 98% (57 respondents)
The overwhelming majority of respondents (98%) believed that there is currently not enough support in place to make independent living a reality for young disabled people in Scotland. A number of factors were identified by respondents as to why not enough support is currently in place, along with suggestions for increasing the level of support to independent living. We provide verbatim comments where appropriate to illustrate strength of feeling or personal experience.
Independent Living Fund (ILF) Scotland is a national public body providing financial awards to disabled people in Scotland. The Transition Fund, administered by ILF Scotland, is for disabled people aged between 16 and 25. The fund aims to help young people develop their independence, confidence and participation within their communities. A portion of respondents praised the Transition Fund for providing vital support to young disabled people to assist with living more independently.
“My daughter has been receiving support from the Transition Fund and it has been a great help. It is to help those on low income and to pay for their support team, which is what my daughter benefits from.”
“The ILF is a vital fund that helps young disabled people to stay active and become more involved in their local communities.”
“I thank the ILF for their continued funding support for my son, which has allowed him to develop a number of news skills and build up his confidence.”
Despite recognition of the benefits gained through the Transition fund, the majority of respondents believed that there must be greater access to wider financial support.
“Unfortunately there is a lack of support available to help young people who would like to live independently and of course there are a number of reasons for this such as lack of access to suitable funding.”
“Young disabled people need access to funds.”
“I have a 15 year old with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and autism. I feel like I’m banging my head against a brick wall trying to get him any financial support.”
There were specific comments from respondents on the lack of support that is in place to access appropriate housing. One respondent highlighted that disabled people often have to pay extra in order to find housing that is accessible.
“There is a lack of suitable accommodation and support staff.”
“If a young person needs support in developing independent living skills, support with getting housing – what’s involved and how the system works, or mental health/wellbeing, there does not seem to be as much support or it is harder to access.”
“If I wanted to live independently I would need to make sure that it fits my needs. Unfortunately this will boost the prices/rents being asked for privately owned homes and it will place me in an ever growing waiting list for council housing.”
There are various support services in place that offer support for young disabled people into employment. One respondent made a direct reference to Disability Confident, a UK government scheme designed to encourage employers to recruit and retain disabled people.
“There are pockets of support projects/services that can work with the young person on specific parts of their lives – for example there are various different employability support services.”
“Disability Confident employers display the logo but do not necessarily comply with the promises.”
A high proportion of disabled people rely on public transport to get to work, visit friends and family, and be part of the community. Although improvements are being made to public transport accessibility, respondents highlighted the ongoing difficulties they experience.
“Things like public transport is not always accessible to disabled people. Issues around this can be an inconsistency around the timetables with delays, slashes of the service, which makes the frequent transport fill to the brim or leaves you competing for seating with other disabled / elderly/ pregnant people.”
“Transport and infrastructure that just isn’t up to scratch which can end up hurting disabled people (last time I went on a bus I was left bed bound for days due to the pain that the trip caused me), even something as simple as getting to the transport station can be extremely hard for disabled people with some stations being inaccessible in various different ways.”
“Without private transport and dodgy public transport how are young disabled people meant to have a life. How are we able to get to a job when having a driving license helps increase your chances when driving isn’t even a part of it? How are we meant to get to university or college? How are we meant to meet up with friends? How are we meant to get a food shop that doesn’t involve it being delivered to your door?”
There was recognition of the type of support that is required for young disabled people, which will differ from the support that is in place for older people. Some respondents believed that greater levels of support must be put in place for disabled people of all ages.
“It is important to remember that the type of support young disabled people might need to live independently is completely different from the support that older people need and it is often the case that the services provided struggles to deal with the difference between the groups.”
“What’s missing is a scheme to bring together young disabled people and older disabled people. Very often older disabled people can provide advice and assistance to young disabled people but there is no scheme to provide funding for this.”
“I feel much more support should be put in place for many disabled people – not just younger people. There are many who’ve been just left to look after themselves. Many don’t like continually asking for help.”
“There is never enough support for disabled people of any age.”
Some respondents questioned the inflexible nature of support services that are in place for young disabled people. It is important that there is a joined-up approach across various support services to ensure all agencies are working with stakeholders towards a shared goal of achieving greater independence.
“The inflexibility of the system disrupts the concept of independence and often young people are left to expect very little in terms of quality of life unless their families take on a life-long battle with authorities. Assessments and plans are fine but execution of plans quite another.”
“Support needs to be embedded more into services. It is a huge problem that often services operate in silos.”
“I think resources, culture and attitude all conspire to create a climate that does not actively promote potential and independence as well as it could.”
“Local authority buy-in must be there and supported.”
“A lot of this type of support seems to be left to social work/local authorities who do not have the time to work with someone as regularly as would benefit.”
A number of respondents believed more needs to be done to raise awareness of the existing support services that are in place to encourage independent living for young disabled people.
“Whilst there is some support available it can be challenging knowing where to access this support.”
“Many young people won’t know what is available to them, so mainstreaming has to be the way to go.”
“There are great projects doing good work to support young people transitioning but I feel like they can be a bit disjointed, and it can be hard for a young person/family member to navigate what is available to them to find the right support that meets their needs or wishes.”
“Very little support planning has been happening for young people this year and parents often do not understand the options for support available.”
There were specific comments on the level of awareness of the ILF Transition Fund.
“Lack of information to the disabled person and their family about help like Transition Fund. I was told ILF did not apply any more as it was closing down. Many disabled young people and their families think independent living means physically doing everything yourself and are discouraged by authorities due to cost.”
“There aren’t enough staff to provide the service or indeed the training for the lay person to understand the Independent Living Fund (ILF).”
The ILF Transition Fund was recognised as a vital form of support for young disabled people. However, there was an overall consensus that greater levels of support must be in place to make independent living a reality for young disabled people in Scotland. To achieve this, there needs to be greater access to financial support, as well as improvements to support for housing, employment and public transport. Some respondents believed there is a lack of flexibility with existing support services and more needs to be done to create a unified approach. It is also essential to raise awareness of the existing support mechanisms through public awareness campaigns that are targeted at young disabled people and their families.