Frequently asked questions What is Friends of Independent Lives? Friends of Independent Lives is our free membership programme which aims to give people with lived experience of disabilities or health care needs a way to have their voices heard and help shape a society that works for everyone. Why have I received a letter about it? We recently wrote to everyone who accesses our services to let them know about Friends of Independent Lives. We feel that it is an important step in the development of the organisation and wanted to give as many people as possible the opportunity to find out more and sign up to become a member. How much does it cost? It is completely free to join Friends of Independent Lives. What do I get for being a member? By signing up as a member you will receive the following: A welcome pack A comprehensive induction programme A badge identifying you as a supporter of Independent Lives Invites to meetings and events including the Independent Lives Annual General Meeting A digital first newsletter sent at least once every quarter Opportunities to consult on important developments within the organisation What kind of things will members do? Friends of Independent Lives will receive invites to events organised by the organisation including the Independent Lives Annual General Meeting where members will have voting rights on the organisations future board members. Members may also be contacted to give their opinions on issues related to disability or health care. Ultimately, it is the members who will help shape the direction of the group. For example, members may decide they want to organise a public campaign to raise awareness on a particular issue, or they may decide to use their collective voice to lobby decision makers on specific policies. Members may decide their time is best used fundraising, whether that is for Independent Lives services or for a specific project will be up to the group. Do I have to take part? You don’t need to join and whether you are a member or not, you will continue to receive the same quality of support from Independent Lives. If you do become a member, there is no minimum level of commitment. Your membership could be as simple as reading the occasional email or you may choose to attend every meeting, it is entirely up to you. I don’t have access to the internet, will that be a problem? The internet allows us to communicate quickly and easily with a wide range of people, but we can also post information and speak to people over the phone or in person. We want Friends of Independent Lives to be accessible to as many people as possible and will work with all our members to ensure that they are able to take part. Who can join Friends of Independent Lives? Friends of Independent Lives is open to anyone over the age of 18 who wants to have their voices heard and want to help shape a society that works for everyone. We particularly welcome people who have experience of disabilities or health care needs. The only people not eligible to join are current staff of Independent Lives. What does lived experience mean? ‘Lived experience’ is a term used to identify people who have personal knowledge about the world of disabilities or health care. That could be because they have accessed or are currently accessing a health care service, or it could be because they have a disability themselves. It could also include the friends and family of those people or someone who has a genuine interest in the subject, perhaps though work or study. I have specific questions not listed above, what should I do? You can get in touch with the team at Independent Lives by emailing [email protected] or by calling 01903 219482.