What does independence mean? by Dorothy Jarvis-Lee
Independence means different things to different people. For some, it’s simply having the freedom to decide their own schedule and priorities. Other people focus on living alone, not depending on others for care. Alternatively, someone may want the freedom to choose who they enter a relationship with.
I believe independence is having freedom of mind, and the opportunity to make informed choices. Imagine something as simple as being told you were only allowed to drink coffee, never tea. It’s important for anyone to have the informed choice to accept or refuse something, no matter how small or large.
Too often, we take such independence for granted. We don’t think twice about simple things like choosing which shampoo we use, how we style our hair or what shoes we put on. We think nothing of grabbing a snack from the fridge, popping out to the shops or where we want to go on holiday. We can choose who we socialise with, which TV programmes we watch, what books we read and how we spend our weekend. If we want to learn a new skill, apply for a new job or move, we can take steps to do this.
Yet, there are so many people who either feel restricted or are restricted and yearn for greater independence.
At ubu, we enable the people we serve to achieve greater independence step by step. We help them overcome restrictions as much as possible through tailored support.
This could be helping them to manage their own money by assisting them in setting up a bank account, planning a budget and paying bills. It may be enabling them to understand what stresses them and enable them to take control of their feelings, to travel, get an occupation and purpose in life, a job or live alone. Often these major milestones are achieved through a series of small steps. At first, these small steps can feel like huge hurdles but gradually, confidence increases and momentum builds.
Because we understand that every person is unique, we identify which practices and techniques will be most appropriate for any given situation. This involves taking the time to understand exactly what each person wants to achieve and what barriers, physical or psychological, are preventing them from getting there.
Support may include therapy, counselling or mentoring. The aim is to move every person we support closer to the life that works for them, at a pace they are comfortable with.
Seeing people achieve what they once believed impossible is one of the most rewarding parts of working at ubu. I never get tired of hearing the success stories of people achieving.
The great thing about enabling independence is that it isn’t limited to ubu. Every person, every employer and every organisation can be part of somebody’s success story. Encourage others, help them, respect that they have the right to say “yes” or “no” and treat people with kindness. If we all do that, then we can help more people achieve their goals and realise that the impossible is possible.
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