By Susan Douglas-Scott

AT the start of a new year, many of us will set ourselves a goal to try something new. That could be trying out meditation, taking up a new sport, or maybe simply saying “yes” to more things. However, for many young disabled people in Scotland, trying new things is not that easy.

The transition period between childhood and adulthood has been identified as one of the most vulnerable periods for many young disabled people. Leaving school often results in their access to services and support drops significantly, which means their ability to enjoy social interaction and live independently is greatly reduced.

Losing access to services means that young disabled people’s choices about what they want to do in life are restricted. Being deprived of the ability to choose for oneself can cause isolation and loss of independence – something that most non-disabled people will never have to experience.

The Independent Living Fund (ILF) Scotland launched its Transition Fund in 2017 with the intention of empowering young disabled people to grow their confidence, enhance their social interactions, and increase their independence. The fund provides grants for activities, equipment and experiences that can help young people to reach particular goals. For example, they may wish to join a local sports club in order to make new friends, or they might want to receive driving lessons so that they can leave the house without relying on a parent or carer.

Having greater access to these opportunities and choices can make such a difference for young disabled people and it’s been very moving to see the change that this fund has made to many young people’s lives.

Recently, I met with a number of young people who are Transition Fund recipients. One was Ryan, who lives in Largs and shared with me that he has autism. Ryan previously struggled with social interaction and was becoming increasingly withdrawn from his community as well as his family. Having always been musical, Ryan applied to the Transition Fund for a grant to buy a piano and receive music lessons. He has since been able to join his local brass band, where he plays the trombone, and is now studying an HNC in music, as well as a piano diploma. He has ambitions to study music performance at university and plans to become a piano teacher. Ryan has achieved all of this because he was empowered to try out something new.

Cait’s was another story that resonated with me. Cait is a young woman from Dumfries who used her funding to set up her own baking business, Cait’s Bakes. Cait told us she wanted to set up a business to have more financial independence after leaving school. Through the Transition Fund, she purchased baking equipment that allowed her to start making cakes and chocolates for local cafés and private customers – and I can confirm they are delicious!

Ryan’s and Cait’s are just two stories from over 1000 people who have been supported with £2.5m in grants from the ILF Scotland Transition Fund. It’s been so inspiring to see the difference that this fund is making, and how being able to try new things can transform the lives of young disabled people.

This time of year is the perfect time to start trying something new. Further funding is available from the Transition Fund – so if you’re aged 16-25, have a disability and live in Scotland, or know someone eligible, then visit

Susan Douglas-Scott, CBE, is chair of the Board at Independent Living Fund Scotland