Independent Life Skills

All young people need to develop skills which enable to them to live their lives as independently as possible as adults. Many of us take these skills for granted, but for some young people, this can offer a real sense of achievement and freedom and enable them to access and live as part of their local communities with less formal care and support.

Life skills can include being able to shop and budget for food, preparing meals, paying bills, banking, cleaning and maintaining a home, as well as using the bus or other forms of public transport to get around.

Living Independently

Children and young people gradually learn about and become more independent as they grow up in a way that’s right for them and their age.  As young people approach adulthood and start thinking about being more independent in the family home, or living elsewhere, they will need have to be much more involved in doing the sort of things that go hand in hand with living independently.

These might include:

  • Looking after yourself
  • Planning your day
  • Safety awareness
  • Keeping your home clean
  • Managing money
  • Cooking
  • Making a shopping list and then doing the shopping
  • Finding out about options for where you might live
  • Thinking about the support that you might need
Finding a home that suits you

You will need to consider what a property needs to be like to suit you.  It isn’t always possible to find a home that suits you exactly but  there may be small things that can be changed to make it work for you.

More information can be found on Help to live at home

Finding somewhere to live

Staying with your family

Many young people continue to live with their family when they are an adult until it’s the right time for them to move. Your family can support this and young people can still become more independent adults whilst living with their family.

Living independently

You may decide you would like to live independently.  There are a number of ways you can do this.  More information can be found on Finding somewhere to live

Staying safe in the community

For many of us, it can be a real problem if we do not feel safe and comfortable when we are trying to do something.  This is the same when we are trying to get out into the community, we need to feel safe and supported, and this could include simple things like:

  • Plan where you would like go and how you are going to get there
  • Take a mobile phone if you have one, and the phone number of someone you trust
  • Take some money in case you need to make a phone call from a public phone
  • Take only the money you expect to need, keep some in your wallet or purse and some in your pocket
  • If you have one, take a personal attack alarm
  • Are your personal belongings, like your phone, wallet or purse kept in a safe place on you, like your bag or pocket?
  • If possible, have you told someone you trust where you are going and when you expect to be back?
  • If you can, go out with a friend or someone you know

Social Media

Computers, mobile phones and tablets are a great way to keep in touch with your friends, finding and making new friends and to share things at the touch of a button. You can also use them to find information and to help with homework.  But they can also make it easier for bullies and other people who might want to hurt you to get close to you.  So it is really important that you know how to stay safe on your computer, phone and websites.

The ChildLine and NSPCC websites both have lots of really useful information to help protect yourself from cyberbullying, sexting, inappropriate content and protect your online reputation.  There is also an easy read guide to Staying Safe on Social Media and Online from the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities.

Financial support for Independent Living

Universal Credit

If you have a health condition or disability you might be eligible for extra universal credit.

Universal Credit is a means-tested benefit that has replaced 6 ‘legacy’ benefits:

  • Income-related ESA
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Working Tax Credits and Child Tax Credits
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support.

With very few exceptions, no new claims can now be made for the 6 legacy benefits.

Check whether you are eligible for Universal Credit.

Please note: Claims for contribution based JSA and ESA (based on National Insurance contributions) can still be made.

Other financial support available

Working Tax Credit is a government benefit that helps those on lower incomes. You can only make a claim for Working Tax Credit if you already get Child Tax Credit. If you cannot apply for Working Tax Credit, you can apply for Universal Credit instead.

A personal budget is made up of resources that can be used flexibly to support you with your education, health or care needs.

Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) can help you with extra costs if you have a long-term disability or illness.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA). You can only apply for a DLA if you are under the age of 16. If you are over the age of 16 you can apply for a PIP (see above).

Housing Benefit can help you pay your rent if you’re unemployed, on a low income or claiming benefits. It’s being replaced by Universal Credit and you can only make a new claim for Housing Benefit if you’re in supported, sheltered or temporary housing or if you’ve reached State Pension age. You can find out more information about additional help with housing costs on the Government website.

Council Tax Reduction Benefit can still be claimed by those on low incomes or means tested benefits.

Some people do not have to pay Council Tax. You can find out more about Council Tax Exemptions on the Government website.