Influencer life

Isaac Samuels, a member of our Co-production Advisory Group, shares his thoughts on influencing others this Mental Health Awareness Week. Isaac is Co-chair of the National Co-production Advisory Group, Think Local Act Personal, and co-chairs the working group which supports the All Party Parliamentary Group on Adult Social Care.

In a world where voices often get lost in the noise, where systemic injustices prevail, and where the marginalised are often sidelined, one might not expect someone like me to emerge from the shadows and step into the limelight of influence. Yet, here I am, a brown disabled person, fuelled by an unwavering passion for the rights of individuals living with long-term health and social care needs.

Isaac’s Journey

My journey began in the halls of a mental health institution, where I witnessed first-hand the struggles and injustices faced by those most vulnerable in society. It was there that my resolve was born, a resolve to fight tirelessly for equality and justice for those whose voices are often drowned out by the cacophony of indifference.

I have never considered myself an influencer, but rather a catalyst for change, a facilitator of voices that too often go unheard. Over the years, I have dedicated myself to providing a platform for those with lived experiences of multiple disadvantages, empowering them to co-produce policies and initiatives that directly impact their lives.

It hasn’t always been easy. Co-production is messy, challenging, and time-consuming. But amidst the chaos, there is beauty. There is power in coming together, in sharing experiences, and in shaping the future together.

A Defining Moment

One of the defining moments of my life was when I had the privilege of working alongside Sally Percival as the first people with lived experience to co-chair a working group for the All Party Parliamentary Group on adult social care during the Covid pandemic. Together, we ensured that the voices and needs of disabled people were heard and acted upon by the government. It was a monumental shift in the traditional power dynamics, and a testament to the strength of collective action.

Co-production often speaks of power, but too often that power remains elusive. It is crucial that we, as disabled individuals, recognize the power within ourselves to make change happen, to challenge the status quo, and to demand a more just and equitable society.

Advancing equality is not merely a lofty ideal; it is a necessity for building a world where everyone, regardless of their needs, can thrive. It is a world where access is not a privilege but a fundamental right, where every voice is heard and valued.

Gratitude for the opportunity

As I reflect on my journey, I am filled with gratitude for the opportunities I have had and the privilege to stand in spaces that often shy away from difficult conversations. But my work is far from over. There is still much to be done, many battles to fight.

So, I will continue to raise my voice, to challenge the norms, and to advocate for a world where justice reigns supreme. For in the end, it is not the magnitude of our actions that defines us but the depth of our commitment to creating a better tomorrow for all.