Young girl with a content smile embracing her mother in a park
Steph has been receiving Direct Payments for her daughter Abby for nearly 20 years. Abby was diagnosed with Autism at the age of four.

“As she was getting older, she started having more issues. When she started primary school is when her Autism began to have a real impact.”

Steph was initially supported by Abby’s teachers.

They noticed how tired and run down I was. They contacted social services on my behalf and arranged the Direct Payment assessment. I had contacted social services for a referral prior to this, which was rejected outright. I remember receiving a letter that said if Abby becomes more disabled, I should come back to them. Thankfully, things have improved a lot since then”

Abby’s direct payment allows Steph to employ two personal assistants

“Abby’s been receiving direct payments for well over a decade now. She has two personal assistants who take her out so I can have some respite, which has become even more beneficial in recent times as my husband is now a wheelchair user. Since the pandemic she also now spends the odd night with one of her PAs, which she really enjoys.”

Abby has received Direct Payments from Junior school, through to higher education.

“Abby now goes to Brinsbury College three days a week and the Butterfly Project in Horsham which is paid for with her Direct Payment. On her holidays is when she accesses her PAs. She’s not really one for friends, but she calls her PAs her best friends, which is lovely.”

Steph has also been supported by Independent Lives to manage Abby’s direct payment since 2016.

Everything that Independent Lives does for me is fantastic. Knowing that there’s someone who’s taking care of calculating my PAs wages and the tax that have to pay, really does make me worry a lot less, because I have enough on my plate. Even the little things, making the DBS application process available online and reducing the size of the PA pack. Before that, I would get sent reams of paperwork and filling everything in was a mundane, boring process. It’s nice to know that they’re always thinking about how they can improve their service and make things easier for the people who use it. Because when you’re disabled or you support someone who is, you feel like you’re constantly bombarded with paperwork. Whether it’s something like applying for Personal Independence Payment or just the forms you have to fill in while they’re in education, constantly having to fill in the same forms every year. It is something that’s really draining. It’s nice to not have to do that where direct payments are concerned. I call the Information and Advice line quite a lot and they’re always very helpful. Especially at the beginning when I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing, they were a great help.”

Independent Lives provides a range of services and support for people receiving Direct Payments. Click here to find out more about our Direct Payment support services.