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Airing Pain 62: Independent Living

How to get support in regaining independence and the physical and mental health benefits of social exercise

This edition has been funded by a grant from the Moffat Charitable Trust.

How can people left disabled and housebound by chronic pain be supported to live independently? Producer Paul Evans visits two Edinburgh-based organisations with different approaches to transforming the lives of people in pain.

The Lothian Centre for Inclusive Living (LCIL) is run by disabled people for disabled people with the aim, as its name suggests, of helping people to live full lives despite their condition. A key part of their service is supporting people as they apply for the benefits to which they are entitled in an often confusing and frustrating system. Jacqueline Todd recalls her struggle to be recognised as eligible for the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and the freedom she has gained from adaptations to her home.

At the Thistle Foundation Paul speaks to members and staff about how their exercise and lifestyle classes bring people ‘out of the darkness’ of social isolation and pain. John Cunningham found the ‘supremely fit’ people at his local gym intimidating, but the welcoming and supportive environment has ‘changed [his] life dramatically’. Course leader Linda Douglas talks about the importance of finding a ‘safe space’ where people can focus on their strengths and find out what works for them.

Issues covered in this programme include: Independence, social exercise, exercise, mental health, isolation, welfare reform, disability benefits, depression, flare-up, back pain, fibromyalgia, social care, community healthcare, lifestyle course and peer support.


  • Kirsty Henderson, Information and Communications Officer, LCIL
  • Jacqueline Todd, service user and volunteer, LCIL
  • Linda Douglas, lifestyle management course leader, Thistle Foundation
  • John Cunningham, member, Thistle Foundation
  • Margaret Hendry, volunteer and member, Thistle Foundation.

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