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 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 helps people explore all options when arranging their social care and provide a range of resources, including advisers, to help people recruit and manage Personal Assistants.


Independent Lives consults with NHS England to design a framework and provide training for Personal Assistants to undertake clinical tasks.

Training service launched providing training to professionals across health and social care, and induction training to Personal Assistants.


Connecting Volunteers launched for disabled people local to Worthing to work directly at Independent Lives. We shape the role and support to suit individual needs, skills and interests.

Independent Lives works with Hampshire County Council to train disabled people to become effective employers.

Our care service Lend a Hand is inspected by Care Quality Commission and rated ‘Good’.

Helen Charlton joins as part of the Executive Leadership Team, as Head of Marketing, Communications, and Engagement.

Independent Lives wins the Guardian Public Service Award and runner-up for Skills for Care Accolades Employer of the Year.


Rebecca Smicle is our new Chief Executive having previously worked as Director of Services, and Katherine Wynne becomes Director of Services, previously Integrated Services Manager. Jo Scutt joins as Director of Business Planning and Finance, working with Rebecca and Katherine as part of the Executive Leadership Team.

Our AGM focussed on consulting with stakeholders to produce our business strategy for 2018 – 2020, and inform a refresh of our strapline, vision, mission and values.

Independent Lives secures funding from Skills for Care to support disabled people to identify the training needs of their Personal Assistants. The project helps Personal Assistants and employers understand the value of training for Personal Assistants and the benefits training brings to the employer. We work in partnership with Disability Inclusion and Roseroad to deliver this project.

Independent Lives is runner up for a Guardian Public Service Award, Third Sector Award, and West Sussex Partnerships in Care Accolades Unsung Hero.


Our new business strategy is launched, and our care service Lend a Hand is rebranded to join our family of services supporting people to live independently.

PA Pages is redeveloped to include Hampshire.

The new website is launched, providing accessible information, fundraising, e-commerce and interaction on a responsive platform.