SPECTRUM CIL – A Brief History

A brief history of SPECTRUM – 33 years and counting:

The Early years:

We were born as Southampton Centre for Independent Living (SCIL) at a public meeting held in Southampton in November 1984 by a small group of Disabled People who met to develop support mechanisms which enabled them to live independently. SCIL was one of the first Centre’s for Independent Living in the UK.  SCIL remained essentially a dedicated group of volunteers until the early 1990’s, making itself known, campaigning and gaining representation on influential bodies.

In 1987, SCIL gained office space in Canute Road, Southampton. However, in 1990, we became ’homeless’ due to accommodation and resource difficulties. These problems led SCIL to rethink its strategy.  We decided to assume a dual role: our services to Disabled People remaining free to Disabled People, but a significant change was introduced to develop income generating support services, and the introduction of fee paying services to professional, statutory and commercial enterprises.

During 1991, SCIL received two grants to finance the appointment of our first full-time paid Coordinator and to develop Disability Equality Training. This enabled SCIL to develop policies and structures to ensure the efficient running of SCIL and to demonstrate our values, principles and accountability to members; this sound foundation enabled us to grow in size and influence.

The middle ages:

The Northlands Road years: A move to Northlands Road in 1992 enabled SCIL to expand our services quickly, identifying opportunities to provide services which supported Disabled People to live independently via early ‘Direct Payments’ schemes. We developed consumer based auditing services, personal development training, and a range of training and consultancy services aimed at statutory authority staff and businesses. We also continued to campaign locally and nationally on disability issues and to further our demand for civil and human rights.  We gained recognition for the role we played, and our ability to effectively represent the views of Disabled People.

By 1997 we had 8 staff. However, by 2004 this had increased to 24. We were bursting at the seams in Northlands Road; necessitating the next stage of our development.

The Unity 12 years:

In 2005 we purchased, renovated and moved to our current office premises in Rose Road which we called Unity 12. This enabled us to embark on a new and exciting development in our history. We set-up a subsidiary organisation, Unity 12 CIC, as the holding company to manage the property on our behalf. As sole shareholders in Unity 12, we have led 2 major refurbishment programmes and have developed fully accessible conference facilities, meeting rooms and office space that we rent to like minded organisations who deliver Independent Living opportunities for Disabled People in the community.

In 2008 we setup a 2nd subsidiary, SCIL Continuing Care CIC (Now called SPECTRUM Continuing Care), to deliver personalised support services to Disabled People with health care needs.

Modern Times:

In 2013 we rebranded ourselves as SPECTRUM Centre for independent Living, reflecting the diversity of our services, and the fact that we didn’t just operate in Southampton any more.

In 2016 we initiated a new strategy, to work more closely with our subsidiaries, develop our skill sets, make better use of our resources, and to work collaboratively to develop innovative new services and secure our future. This strategy will see the appointment of our first HR & Performance Manager.

SPECTRUM has a book available, containing a detailed exploration of our history and the history of Disabled People and the Independent Living Movement. Download a copy here: SPECTRUM – Our History

 SPECTRUM today:

SPECTRUM has weathered difficult political, social and economic climates, shrinking and growing accordingly. However, SPECTRUM has cemented its reputation locally, regionally and nationally as one of the most respected, influential and innovatively proactive User-Led Organisations (ULO’s) in the UK.

SPECTRUM currently provides the following services:

Training, consultancy and advisory services to public, commercial and third sector organisations

Personal development opportunities for Disabled People

Direct Payments and Personal & Managed Budget support services

Facilitated co-production opportunities with Disabled People

Personal Assistance register (web-based)

Student Social Worker placements

Mentored support for Disabled People

Advocacy support for Disabled People

Supporting the development of new User Led Organisations

Accessible office, conference and meeting facilities (via Unity 12 CIC)

Personalised care packages for Disabled People using NHS Continuing Care funding (via SPECTRUMCC CIC)

The future:

Throughout our history we have succeeded where other ULO’s have not by maintaining clear aims, values and principles; by being pragmatic and innovative; and by leading from the front on user-led developments and issues that we, as Disabled People, feel strongly about.

SPECTRUM will not rest until we achieve our aims and Disabled People are enabled to live independently and enjoy the same choices, control and life opportunities that non-disabled people take for granted.

Visit our website for more information: www.SpectrumCIL.co.uk

Think you know Disabled People … Think again


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