James Fearnley has lots of ideas and unlike the rest of us, he generally does something about them. He lives his projects – from the survey unit of Which?, the Reichian orgone box in the corner of the Kennington flat, the pottery in Suffolk and then Yorkshire: the Mustard Seed co-operative in Whitby as well as mutual help organisations for small business as well as consumers. Always the theme in common for all this remains his interest in people’s getting their views heard and respected, following their own paths to their own goals. He wrote Stronger Voice – the training pack for consumer representatives published and promulgated by the National Consumer Council. Now he has launched The Dispensary – what he calls in his video ‘a future health shop’.
We wish him well because his central argument revolves around the idea of us all taking back the responsibility for our health – a theme echoed in the recent launch of Shared Decision Aids.
Patient Power is easier to dispense and put about as a slogan – making it a reality is harder. One thing is certain is that no one approach will ever be enough. We need creative and committed people to develop the ways and means to put information and self-belief into the hands of all those who seek health – a state of being that embraces much more than not being sick. James has explored and tested his definition of health at the Festival of futurehealth held at Whitby in December, running workshops on each element of his health vision:
- Social and Citizen Health
- Physical and Emotional Health
- Economic and Environmental Health
- Cultural and Spiritual Health
All of us working in health including those Commissioners looking to the third sector to provide services under the community wellbeing banner, should take heed of the ambitious and challenging scope of this definition.
Declaration of interest – Colin Adamson has known JF for donkeys’ years since they both worked at Consumers’ Association/Which? magazine. For more on the man and his passions, see this clip and this short film.
The Moore Adamson Craig Partnership supports user and public participation, trains lay representatives and develops responsive health, care and education organisations. Feel free to contact us to discuss the opportunities. Follow MAC on Twitter @publicinvolve