A wee blether with… Jordan Allan, who is Service Quality Director at Thera Trust Scotland, an organisation which seeks to demonstrate that people with learning disabilties can be leaders in society. Thera is co-managed by directors who have lived experience of learning disability, like Jordan…
Hi Jordan – nice to meet you, even if it is through a screen! Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Jordan: Hi, well I live in Glasgow and I’m passionate about football. But my main passion is making sure that people with learning disabilities have the same opportunities in life as everyone else – like having a job, being in a relationship if they want to, and having the right housing.
We agree – those are rights that should apply equally to everyone, but it’s the case that some people with learning disabilities still don’t have the same opportunities as other people to live the kind of life that they choose. So you’re a campaigner for the rights of people with learning disabilities?
Jordan: Yes, it’s very frustrating that this is still the case for lots of people. Well I suppose I am – I work as a Service Quality Director at the Thera Trust Scotland.
What does your role at Thera Scotland involve?
J: My role at Thera is about making sure that the people Thera supports are getting good support from us (Thera) and if not, what they would want to change so that their support improved. This involves meeting with the people that Thera supports and talking about their experience of the support they receive.
I run Thera (Scotland) alongside the Managing Director; I attend board and management meetings and write reports for the board and management team, to keep them up to date with how things are going in terms of the service and quality Thera Scotland provide.
My main job is to put people with learning disabilities at the heart of everything Thera does, and to ensure that the support we provide is the best it can be.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
J: I enjoy meeting the people we support – especially when they’re happy – this makes me feel good! It’s all about them and helping people to lead meaningful lives.
How has your role changed during the COVID-19 lockdown?
J: During lockdown, I’ve been checking in virtually (via video and phone calls) with the people we support.
I think my role has been especially important during lockdown as its helped to combat loneliness amongst some people with learning disabilities who I support – they see a new face and have a chat to me. I have met so many people through Teams and Zoom and had lots of online training.
What do you think we can do to help other organisations to involve people with learning disabilities in senior roles?
J: I think it’s really important that support organisations have people with a learning disability at the heart of what they do and involve them in the running of the organisation.
More organisations and businesses should take on people with learning disabilities, as it makes their workforce more diverse. Bigger organisations need to look at how they can hire people with learning disabilities – they need to make recruitment more accessible by doing things like making easier to read application forms and giving people alternatives to a traditional interview.
What Thera do is fantastic – having people with lived experience of learning disability run the organisation alongside someone who doesn’t have a learning disability makes a big difference to the organisation as a whole.
It’s great when organisations and businesses take the ‘nothing about us without us’ approach and put it into practice isn’t it? It’s just frustrating that there aren’t more organisations doing this…
J: Yes, it really is – in the next five to ten years I’d like to see lots more people with a learning disability on the management board of more companies. The organisation I worked for previously Values Into Action Scotland (VIAS); half of their board and staff are people with learning disabilities and people on the autistic spectrum and I know SCLD have people on their staff with learning disabilities or people on the autistic spectrum too. Thera do this too!
To do this we need to raise awareness and do more promotion. Events like ‘Young Scotland’s Got Talent’ (YSGT) are also really important to getting the message out there, because you learn about the work that people with learning disabilities do across a whole range of jobs, and the talent they have in their sector or industry.
Very true! YSGT* is coming up next week isn’t it!? Time has certainly flown whilst we have all been in lockdown. A final question – do you have a role model who has inspired your career?
J: Yes, my role model is Andrew Bright – a fellow director at Thera. Andrew has been at Thera for over 10 years and he’s someone who I aspire to become and where I see myself in the future.
There are also so many people with a learning disability who I meet in my job and within the sector whose stories I hear, who are inspirational to me. I’d like to see others recognising them and taking the lead on this.
Thanks for speaking to SCLD Jordan – all the best for your career in the future, it sounds like you’re well on your way!
J: Thanks, it’s been good to chat.
*Young Scotland’s Got Talent (YSGT) is a talent showcase of people with learning disabilities and individuals on the autistic spectrum who excel in the jobs that they do. This year YSGT will focus on young people whose jobs have been on the frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic. Join YSGT via Zoom on Wednesday 29th July – find out more and book now.