“If more people start talking about loneliness and their mental health, then it will have been a good year”
It is well worth taking note of what Jordan says. He’s Dimensions’ health lead, co-chair of council, now co-chair of Learning Disability England, a member of the NHS advisory board for learning disabilities and possessor of a position on the Learning Disability Leaders List. In short, a man whose own priorities can shape Dimensions, and increasingly the wider sector, priorities.
Jordan describes a colleague, popular and busy at work, who suffers great loneliness behind his own front door. “For me,” he says, “If Activate can do one thing, it is to set outcomes around tackling people’s loneliness.” That will make such a big difference. He’s a great advocate of the pen pals pilot being trialled through Dimensions’ volunteering team right now.
In this, Jordan is underlining priorities expressed by CEO Steve Scown who cited the discomfiting statistic that half of the people Dimensions supports have 1 unpaid friend or fewer. It’s a figure that makes one slightly queasy. It’s a figure that, Jordan says, we must find new ways to influence.
Jordan should know. Growing up, Jordan had serious mental health challenges. He attempted suicide on more than one occasion. “I just couldn’t cope with life,” he says, “I was bullied at school. I never went out. I couldn’t – at least until Dimensions came along – imagine working. Now I’ve somehow ended up in a position where I may be able to help make a difference for others. I plan to make the most of it.”
He is far from a lone voice.
he says, “like me, many have personal experience of loneliness and mental health challenges. And LDE too has an increasingly influential voice with three brand new co-chairs articulating the priorities of its 7000 members and other stakeholders.”
As Dimensions’ #MyGPandMe spokesperson, Jordan frequently talks to the media about topics such as reasonable adjustments, about GP training, about issues such as constipation. And just now, Jordan’s particularly thrilled about some animations produced with Dimensions by two fabulous volunteer medical students in Sheffield, Catherine and Sagana, which sit alongside our animation taking on constipation.
“There are so many reasons why people with learning disabilities have shorter lives than other people,” Jordan says, “but none of those reasons are caused by their learning disability. Fear of basic medical procedures plays a significant part. And that is why I am determined to share these animations widely. Please watch, and share:”
Having your blood pressure checked
Having a flu injection
Having your blood taken
Some words from Benjamin Franklin float into mind. “Tell me and I’ll forget. Teach me and I’ll learn. Involve me and I’ll understand.” Jordan’s tirelessness in involving so many others in working together to improve lives may just be his biggest asset.