In the beginning...

Independent Lives started life as the Independent Living Association (ILA) in April 2001.

Direct Payments had been introduced by West Sussex County Council, with support from the national charity Scope, and it was agreed that a local, user-led organisation should take over the work of advising and supporting the growing number of Direct Payment users. The Independent Living Association was established for this purpose.

Since then we have continued to widen and diversify our range of Direct Payment support services, initially to include Payroll and Banking Administration and later, our Recruitment Solutions service.


In January 2012 the ILA took on some of the activities of the charity Voice for Disability following its closure. This further extended our services to include social groups for disabled people across West Sussex.

Building on our mission to raise awareness, change attitudes and influence policy to create a fairer and more equal society, in 2012, we also set up our Policy & Communications team with the aim of supporting disabled people and carers to have their say on the issues that are important to them.


In 2013 we began the process of ensuring that the organisation is fit for a future in which charities and not for profit organisations can take the lead in shaping social, community and healthcare services which enable disabled people to live 'independent lives'.

As part of this process we redesigned our brand and website to better reflect our identity and values and in October 2013 we relaunched as Independent Lives.


In November 2014, Independent Lives were awarded a contract to provide Personal Planning, Direct Payments and information, advice and guidance to people receiving Direct Payments in Hampshire.

The five year contract aims to help people explore all options when arranging their social care and provide a range of resources, including advisors, to help people recruit and manage Personal Assistants.

It is anticipated that up to 500 Hampshire residents per year will be supported by the service.