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18 July 2023

How I use my experience of major trauma to help others

by Martin Jordan

Martin sqr

I faced a long road to recovery after my motorbike crash in 2016. It took four and half years in all. I am grateful for the clinical support I received at Leeds General Infirmary, and to Professor Giannoudis for performing the surgery I needed. I am especially grateful for the support I received from Lewis, a Peer Support Volunteer from Day One.

Peer Support was pivotal to my recovery. Lewis had been in a similar crash and had similar injuries. He understood what I was going through like no one else. Speaking to him had a huge impact on my recovery, especially mentally. If Day One hadn’t been there for me, I would have struggled much more. So, when I was discharged from hospital I knew I wanted to offer the same support to others who were recovering from catastrophic injuries. I wanted to give something back.

I’ve been a Peer Support Volunteer for more than three years now. I’ve supported lots of people at varying levels, from a single half-an-hour chat to multiple calls. I’m through my recovery now and most of my life is back together. I think it’s important for me to give others the same opportunity I had when I was recovering. I know how valuable it can be.

When I support someone, I let them lead it. When I first spoke to Alan he was still in hospital and it felt like he needed to say everything out loud to put it all together in his mind. To process what had happened and start to think about his recovery.

"I read Alan’s feedback after our sessions and I found it very emotional. It’s exactly the sort of feedback I would have given Lewis, the volunteer who supported me after my crash"

It can be painful to talk to loved ones about what you’re going through. I offered a safe space where Alan could share what was going on with someone who has a similar experience. As a peer supporter, you’re close enough to trust but not too close, in the way family or friends are.

We experienced different injuries and have different experiences of recovery, but there are commonalities, especially around dignity and experiencing reduced mobility. We were able to talk about things like what it’s like to have to use a commode, what it’s like to be on crutches for a long time. You wouldn’t ever think about what it’s like to try to get a cup of tea from your kitchen to your living room when you’re on crutches until you’re suddenly in that situation.

During our conversations, I always offer my perspective. I start by talking about what I went through and how I overcame my challenges. We built up a rapport over our conversations. Hearing from someone with a similar experience can give someone hope for the future. It makes you think: I’m not alone.

I read Alan’s feedback after our sessions and I found it very emotional. It’s exactly the sort of feedback I would have given Lewis, the volunteer who supported me after my crash. I’m still in touch with Lewis. When I was still recovering, we always said we would go snowboarding together once I was ready, and when we did it felt like a turning point. Moments like that make you realise how far you’ve come.

I think Day One is a fantastic charity and a worthy cause. The clinicians do fantastic work, but what Day One offers through Peer Support can’t be achieved any other way. That kind of support can only be provided by someone who has lived experience of major trauma. It’s great that I can use my experience to help others now.

Read Alan's blog about his experience of being supported by Martin

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