Its journey commenced in Berkeley, California in 1972 and the new philosophy of Independent Living quickly spread to many European countries.
In March 1992 the philosophy of Independent Living was finally brought to Dublin by a core group of individuals with disabilities, these individuals set up the first Centre for Independent Living with the main aim of ensuring that all people with disabilities can achieve Independent Living and full participation in all areas of society.
The Independent Living Movement came to Galway, through the operation of a Community Employment Scheme that commenced on the 24th June 1994, giving Galway the distinction of being the first centre to be set up outside the Capital. Over the years in excess of 27 other Centres for Independent Living have been set up in Ireland. Initially the only means available to provide a Personal Assistant Service was through a FÁS Community Employment Scheme.
This service proved invaluable to those fortunate enough to avail of it, as they experienced for the first time the potential of Independent Living, despite the limitations. Since its establishment, the Galway Centre for Independent Living has worked in the Citizenship Model of disability as against the traditional Medical Model. People with disabilities are the real experts as to their requirement “nothing about us without us”.
This Scheme, which was funded by FÁS made it possible for a group of individuals with disabilities and other interested parties to establish the first ever Personal Assistant Service outside Dublin.
The funding covered the costs of employing a full-time Programme Manager and up to eighteen part-time participants. Of the eighteen participants, one was employed as the Office Administrator another was the Leader Co-ordinator and the remaining participants were employed as Personal Assistants to people with disabilities.
The service was originally based in a room of the private house of the first Programme Manager, a year later we moved to a small office in the west of the city and in February 1999 we moved offices on east of the city.
The service operated using the title of “The Galway Centre for Independent Living”, this situation continued until March of 1999 when the sponsor group became a registered Company limited by guarantee “The Galway Centre for Independent Living Limited”.
This move was brought about by the insistence of FÁS nationally that they would no longer be willing to fund a Community Employment Scheme sponsored by private individuals and would in the future only fund Schemes run by Registered Limited Companies, later that year we applied for and were successful in being granted Charitable Status.
In 2000 we received for the first time funding from the Western Health Board to supply a very limited Personal Assistants Service to people with disabilities, over the years this funding has increased ever so slowly to a point where in this financial year we expect to receive in excess of €750,000 to provide a Personal Assistants Service to people with disabilities.
2001 seen us being fortunate enough to have had the Bank of Ireland Group support us with the provision of a computer suite with Assistive Technology.
The Dream of Galway Centre for Independent Living was to have its own home. This Dream became a reality when we moved to our own building in Briarhill, Galway on St Patrick’s Weekend 2016.
Through the unbending dedication of our directors and the unselfish commitment of our staff we have had to date and continue to have many successes.
Over the years due to unmet demands we have branched outside the Personal Assistants Service and started to provide a number of other services that facilitate people living independently in their homes and communities.