Talking about tomorrow


Stepping stones to independence

From garden sheds to driving lessons to taking part in a competition in Colorado – the Scottish Government’s Transition Fund, managed by the Independent Living Fund Scotland, is available to help young people with a disability or impairment gain more independence and play a more active part in their communities

Emma is 18 and has a range of disabilities, including speech impairment, learning difficulties and Down’s Syndrome.

She attends college and uses her family iPad to connect with the outside world. She enjoys writing and drawing on the iPad and loves the art feature, which allows her to trace pictures.

Emma’s life revolves around routines. Her communication skills are limited, which makes it difficult to interact with others, so her social circle is based on close family members.

She has a limited sense of danger awareness and has to be supervised constantly, which restricts her ability to take part in activities.

Emma applied to the ILF Scotland Transition Fund for an iPad Pro, pen and keypad. Unrestricted access to this technology helps Emma’s learning and understanding of her surroundings, and helps her to feel connected with the outside world.

Emma’s dad said: “From our viewpoint the fund has been a gateway for Emma into a world of information that she was previously excluded from. It has been a game changer in giving her parity with her peers.”


Gavin is on the autistic spectrum, struggles with communication and has a limited social life. A talented athlete, his goal is to be selected for the GB Paralympic Squad. The swimming and athletics communities provide him with a stable and secure environment to meet friends and mature as an adult while keeping fit.

He has been recognised for winning various medals in swimming and athletics for both mainstream and disability clubs. He trains with the Scottish Senior Swim Team for Athletes with a Disability and in 2017 he won gold in all the events he entered at the Scottish Senior Championships for Swimmers with a Learning Disability.

His goals are to be selected for the GB Paralympic Squad, and to continue athletics training so he can reach his full potential as a long distance runner. In the longer term, he would one day like to become a sports coach for children and adults with disabilities.

Gavin applied to the ILF Scotland Transition Fund to pay for swimming and athletics fees, personal fitness fees, his uniform and a ski trip to Italy with Abercorn High School.

Funding from ILF Scotland for extra training and fitness sessions will help him reach his goal of being selected for the GB Paralympic Squad. The one off trip to Italy provided him with invaluable life skills by increasing his confidence and social skills, as well as his independence, which he will be able to use in everyday life and which will help him in his long term aim of becoming a sports coach. 

During the Easter holidays, Gavin used some of his funding to take part in a Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) National Pool Lifeguard course. This provided him with essential life skills, such as First Aid training, which will allow him to work in the leisure industry – another step towards his long term goal.

ILF Scotland funding has been a valuable stepping stone for Gavin. The long term impact for him will be life changing, providing Gavin with the vital skills to develop  a career in sports coaching, with the hope of being selected for the Team GB Paralympic Squad.

With thanks to ILF Scotland and Gavin’s and Emma’s families for permission to share their stories