Joy Usher founded Independent Living Support (ILS) in 2002.
As a Criminal Justice Social Worker she was frustrated by the difficulties of trying to address people’s offending behaviour when their primary concern was survival. She recognised that a model by psychologist Abraham Maslow – Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory – explained that people’s primary needs, for shelter and food, must be met before they can address their emotional or intellectual needs. In essence, each stage becomes a ‘stepping stone’ to self-management, independence, and empowerment for the person. Maslow’s theory states that human motivation is based on people seeking fulfilment and change through personal growth.
Joy decided to set up a support agency for young people—and then people of all ages—trying to manage the skills of living independently. She believed many people who lacked a supportive family needed help to set up and maintain a tenancy- in particular to furnish it, equip it, make it safe, set up a fuel supply, and understand their responsibilities as a tenant. She also believed many people need help to budget and shop appropriately.
At the time a new grant, Transitional Housing Benefit, had been set up in parallel to housing benefit to separate support costs from rental costs.
This enabled ILS to be financed. Along with other agencies supporting vulnerable groups this benefit claimed from central government became the forerunner of the grant paid to Dumfries and Galloway local authority to then establish housing support in the region.
ILS started life as a small team of two support workers but the need for more was soon obvious. Support, initially focussed on the issues mentioned above, soon grew to all aspects of mental and physical wellbeing, in an atmosphere of caring that encouraged personal growth.
Scotland and UK policy is focused on self-management as a key factor to break embedded, detrimental patterns whether it be mental and physical health, social isolation, or attainment levels in education and employment. ILS helps many people in different stages of their life, and needs. Our focus is on the ‘whole person’, known as a holistic approach.
From small beginnings of Joy observing human challenges and understanding the relevance of Maslow’s work Independent Living Support has gone on to help hundreds of young people and adults. Our ethos of helping clients achieve self-management and independence is the ‘spirit and backbone’ of ILS. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is our guiding principle at ILS to take people from simply surviving to actively thriving…