Independent Living

2 young adults in a supermarket reading a carton

Thinking about and preparing for growing up and adulthood is something that happens throughout children and young people’s lives. 

Independent living is a part of preparing for adulthood and includes things like:

  • somewhere to live
  • skills for looking after yourself and your home
  • managing money
  • making decisions and having support if that’s needed

Things you need to learn to be independent

As you grow up and start thinking about being more independent there are things you need to think about.

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

Apps and gadgets to help with daily life

There are lots of technology  that can help us organise our daily lives. Below are some that we suggest could assist with different tasks you may need extra help with. 

Visual Schedules & Social Stories 

Visual Schedules and Social Stories is a visual support app focusing on Visual Schedules and Social Stories.

The app focuses on using social stories and visual schedules to improve socially appropriate behaviors in children with autism. It’s a virtual visual support app to assist children with autism and communication challenges at home, school and the community. The app replaces the traditional visual supports that can be cumbersome, time consuming, costly to create and limited in function.

Download from Apple App Store

Download from Google Play

Let me talk

A free AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) talker app which supports communication in all areas of life and therefore providing a voice to everyone. LetMeTalk is donation financed. LetMeTalk enables you to line up images in a meaningful way to read this row of images as a sentence.

Download from Apple App Store

My Talk Tools

MyTalkTools Mobile is a next generation AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) app that helps people with communication difficulties say what they want with sequences of words, sounds and images.

Download from Apple App Store

Download from Google Play

Evernote - Notes Organizer

You choose the content (simple grids or boards with bold images) and play recorded sounds when you touch a cell. The sequences can even form complete sentences.

Download from Apple App Store

Download from Google Play

Meal Prep Pro 

1,000s of easy recipes, customized to your needs, likes and dislikes. 

Download from Apple App Store

Download from Google Play

Housy: House Cleaning Schedule

Easy house cleaning checklists! Get your motivation to keep house clean using Housy chores tracker. Your best chore chart to make life easier.

Download from Apple App Store

Download from Google Play

SimpleMind - Mind Mapping

Mind mapping helps you organize your thoughts, remember information and generate new ideas. 

Download from Apple App Store

Download from Google Play

Genie Connect

A home system that enables connections with friends, family, support staff, prompts, task planning and more.

Genie Connect website


Staying with your family

Lots of young people continue living with their family when they are an adult.   This can be until it’s the right time for you to move. Your family can support you with this and you can still become more independent while living at home.  You may need to pay towards the costs of running a home, food and other things.


You may decide you would like to live independently. There are a number of ways you can do this. Find out more on our Housing page.

Housing options and support for care leavers
Support to be independent in your home

Equipment to make life easier

Our Technology-Enabled Care team offers advice and information on a range of assistive, telecare and telehealth devices and aids that can make life easier for people with disabilities. The team takes referrals from anyone, for anyone, for all ages and all diagnoses.

Find out more on our Equipment to help with daily life page. 

Information on daily living aids and equipment is available on the Safe and Well website.


Housing adaptations

If adaptations are needed to accommodation because of a disability funding may be available through a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG).  

Applications for DFG are managed on behalf of the district councils by the local area Home Improvement Agencies. Find the Home Improvement Agency in your area. Your Occupational Therapist can tell you more about this.

Support from Adult Social Care for young people with complex needs

Young people aged 18 and over with learning or physical disabilities, or with sight or hearing loss, may be supported with their housing and daily living through Adult Social Care. Young people who are supported by Adult Social Care should ask their social worker for information about housing and daily living options. Young people who are not receiving support from Adult Social Care can contact us to request an assessment.

You can find out more about how to contact Adult social care, what happens when you do and the support they may be able to offer on the Support from Adult Social Care page. 


Travel and transport

Transport to school or college 

Young people who are at college or in a 6th form are expected to travel independently.  This could be walking, cycling or by bus or train. Some young people may be able to get some financial assistance to help with the cost of getting to and from college.  

Most young people in Cambridgeshire with special educational needs and/or disability (SEND) attend mainstream schools and colleges, and do not require travel assistance which differs from mainstream arrangements.​

Some young people with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) may be eligible for support with getting to and from school or college. You can find out more on the Transport to school page and the Post-16 transport to school or setting page. 

Great Northern Rail who run the trains in Cambridgeshire offer a rail card to students aged 16 and 17 in fulltime education that gives you half price train travel. Up to date information about offers, discounts and the application form can be found at:

Great Northern also hold regular events called  ‘Try a Train' which provide an ideal opportunity for those who lack confidence travelling by train to visit their stations and to experience a train journey.

The tailored event agenda concentrated on the group’s specific needs and area of interest.

A typical ‘Try a Train’ consists of.

  • Introduction to the station layout including car parking and onward travel.
  • Various station facilities
  • Overview of ticketing options & sources of information
  • Meet the local station manager and station teams.
  • A chance to sample a train journey to a relevant destination of interest.

You can find out more on the Travel and Transport page.

Money and benefits

Money and Benefits

As you get older, become an adult and leave education you will have to start paying for things with your own money.  This might not happen all at once and parents and family will often continue to pay for things for you.

You might have to pay for things like food, clothes, somewhere to live, gas and electricity bills, your phone and doing things you enjoy.

The money you have could be money you earn from work, savings you have or from benefits.  Benefits is the word used for money that some people get from the government to help them pay for things.

When you are an adult the money you have is yours and you will be expected to look after it yourself and make decisions about it.  You can still have help to look after your money if you need it.

Benefits to help you live independently

You may be able to claim benefits to help you live independently.

Some of the benefits you may be able to claim depend on how much money you have already and if you have a job. 

Some benefits you may be able to claim are for people with a disability or long term illness.  

Some benefits are for help with the cost of housing.  

You can find lots of useful information on our Benefits and finance page.

Universal Credit

You may have the option of claiming Universal Credit as a young disabled adult. Normally you need to be over18 years old. Some 16 and 17-year-olds can claim if you have a medical certificate from your GP. 

Most young people who are still at school or college cannot get Universal Credit. You might be able to claim it if you study part-time or stay in full-time non-advanced education beyond the August after your 19th birthday. 

Note for parents and carers  about Universal Credit. If your young person gets Universal Credit, you will lose any benefits you get for them as part of your family. Universal Credit is a means-tested benefit, but if your young person claims it, the Department for Work and Pensions will only look at their income and capital and not yours. Find out more on the Contact for families with disabled children website

As you get older and become 18 some of your benefits may change.

As you get older and become 18 some of these benefits change. You can find out more on the Adults Welfare Benefits page.

Financial Advocacy

It is a good idea to get independent financial advice and you can find organisations by searching on the directory.  There are also some organisations that work specifically with people with learning disabilities, like DOSH. They will charge you for their services.

Centre 33 

If you are a young person with any worries around money, benefits, jobs and careers, Centre 33 can signpost you to other specialist agencies who might be able to help. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch: money, jobs and benefits - Centre 33

Related Pages

  1. Equipment to help with daily life
  2. Housing
  3. Housing Adaptations
  4. Travel and transport
  5. Staying Safe
  6. Easy Read information about Independence

Related Services

  1. Centre 33
  2. Dosh Financial Advocacy

External Links

  1. Find your local council
  2. P3 Charity Cambridgeshire
  3. Disabled Facilities Grants
  4. Adult Services contact form
  5. Benefits Calculator


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