Independent Lives’ care team has won the prestigious care team award at the highly esteemed 2024 West Sussex Partners in Care (WSPiC) awards. This significant accolade underscores the team’s outstanding dedication and innovative care to individuals across the county. The award highlights several remarkable achievements by the care team over the past year. During the

In an ambitious effort spanning the last twelve months, the Direct Payment team at Independent Lives has played a crucial role in enabling disabled people throughout West Sussex to benefit from the Government’s Household Support Fund. The Household Support Fund scheme supports vulnerable households with the recent significant increase in cost-of-living. The Department of Work

Independent Lives has been awarded a contract from East Sussex County Council to provide support to disabled people in the county. The service will ensure that recipients of Direct Payments have access to support from highly trained and experienced staff. Support is provided by our Information and Advice team and specialist Direct Payment website PA

A recent report by the Work and Pensions Committee, calls on the Government to act to increase financial support for those who need it most.  The cross-party group of MPs has proposed the introduction of a new standard for determining benefit levels that would accurately reflect the cost of living.   This recommendation aims to ensure

In the first part of a three-part series, our comms volunteer Sarah talks about her experiences raising her son, Jamie. By the time my son’s severe (mostly non-verbal) autism became clear at age three, the health issues that had affected me from age 18 were beginning to return. I had suffered from what was eventually

Our comms volunteer Sarah gives her personal perspective on the Government’s ‘Ask Don’t Assume’ campaign.   As a disabled person, do non-disabled people make assumptions about you and/or your abilities or give help or advice when you don’t want it? If so, you’re not alone.   A Government campaign ‘Ask Don’t Assume’ features the voices of people with various disabilities who describe their feelings

Rebecca Smicle, CEO of Independent Lives receives grant from ASDA Foundation holding a cheque with the word 'Inclusion' in the background.

Independent Lives has received a £400 Empowering Local Communities Grant from the Asda Foundation. This funding is allocated for the creation of wellness bags for their Home First service customers. These wellness bags are designed to assist individuals transitioning from hospital care to their homes, providing them with essential items that support their recovery and

Independent Lives' community researchers, Polly, Gareth and Cara [L-R]

Independent Lives community researcher – Cara Redlich (right), shares her experience of starting work with Independent Lives and working on a project she feels really passionate about. In June 2023, I started a new and exciting job with Independent Lives. This charity focuses on helping people with disabilities and carers. My job is to study

Accessible toilet sign with icons for male, female, and wheelchair users.

It came to light recently that a Government report from 2020- 2021 into public support for the use of different types of public toilet provision produced some interesting results.

One stood out: 2% of responses were said to support the use of accessible toilet provision – just 351 out of 17589 responses in total. Sound surprising? You can find the link to the main report at the bottom of this article, but these are the main relevant points in brief:

Four themes were taken from the responses.

1. Responses read as supporting a type of toilet provision
Support for other types of toilet provision were 83% for non-gendered toilets, 12% for separate sex toilets, 6% for both types, and 2% for accessible toilets.

2. Safety concerns
Less than 1% of responses citied concerns about the safety of disabled people amidst greater numbers of responses citing concern for trans/binary people (79%), women (75%), girls (3%), children (2%) and men (1%).

3. Other issues
78% of all responses cite accessible toilet provision as an additional issue. Also, overall, responses assumed to support accessible toilet provision were the most varied in identifying wider issues such as menstruation, design of toilets, queuing, and toilet availability compared to those assumed to support other types of toilet provision.

4. Protected characteristics
80% of responses assumed to support accessible toilet provision potentially impact on the protected characteristic of disability in accordance with the Equality Act (2010). So, while only 2% of responses are assumed to support accessible toilets, a significant majority raised the issue of accessible toilet provision later, suggesting it’s important to many people, although it’s frustratingly unclear what the comments were.

Research issues

The way the research was carried out could be the problem as, perhaps surprisingly, no direct questions were asked about which toilet types people supported. Rather, people made their own decisions on what to comment on.

Their responses were then interpreted by the researchers to assume support for a particular toilet provision and counted into groups in accordance with that type.

The report admits the ‘evidence’ can be misleading: The mere 2% of responses said to support accessible toilets may simply reflect the fact that no specific questions were asked about whether people supported accessible toilets.

People may have assumed they would always be available, unlike more controversial types, such as non-gendered toilets. And it’s also possible that people may not have chosen to comment on accessible toilets because they have less personal relevance to them than other types.

Without knowing exactly what people intended with their comments, or lack of them, it’s highly likely that support for accessible toilet provision is a lot higher than this report suggests.

What next?

What could be useful now is research that directly asks people what types of toilet provision they support so answers are less likely to be misinterpreted.

Also, a detailed questionnaire focussing on issues and suggestions which are relevant to different groups of people, such as those with a disability, when using public toilets would provide plenty of useful information when considering toilet provisions.

To read the entire article, visit the following link: Toilet provision for men and women: call for evidence.

Close-up of courgette plant leaves and flowers with a burgeoning courgette, against a backdrop of potting containers filled with soil.

In a marvellous display of horticultural skill, a group of disabled gardeners triumphed in this year’s Sompting in Bloom awards, clinching first place in the Blooming Community category. Sompting in Bloom is a yearly gardening competition run by Sompting Parish Council and sponsored by Sompting Estate. This year, local gardeners put their skills to the