Giving Voice

Monday, 31 October 2011

Giving Voice in Print

On Thursday I received a telephone call from my grandad, asking if I had seen this week’s News Post Leader yet. When I said our copy had not yet arrived he offered to come straight round to my house with his Newspaper so that I could the piece that had been printed about Giving Voice (and me).
I was pleased that Giving Voice had made it to the local paper again, and eagerly turned the pages until I was presented with a half page spread and two photos, and the headline “Julie is ‘speechless’ on Winning Award”
A few inaccuracies in the main body of the text but still a positive piece overall and I was delighted to see that they printed two photos (one from Mass Mobilisation, as well as one of Gareth Gates and I with our awards).
The online version of the piece can be found here and is currently available from a link on the homepage of the News Post Leader website!! J
It made my grandad’s day to see me in the local paper and it made mine to see Giving Voice in print again J
I shared the photo on link to the article on my facebook and was delighted to see that some of my family and friends did the same on theirs J Giving Voice one person at a time.
The piece from the News Post Leader (page 46 - Thursday 27th October 2011)

I've created a page (which can be found by looking down the right side of this page) with links to online Giving Voice related media from my local news papers. I’ve added this most recent one to this page (Local Giving Voice Coverage - click here) 

Thursday, 27 October 2011

A Badge, a Scarf and a Chatterbox

It’s taken me a week but I’m finally blogging about my last day in London...
On Wednesday morning after breakfast we got ready to check out and do some sightseeing before travelling home. I pinned my new Giving Voice badge to my coat and had my camera in hand as we went to check out so I would be prepared if we bumped into David Hasselhoff again.  I looked out for him all the way from the hotel room, through checking out, to leaving the hotel, but sadly we did not see him. (It obviously wasn’t meant to be!)
Still in high spirits from such a brilliant Tuesday, I was looking forward to doing some sightseeing on our last day in London. We set off for a final look at Buckingham Palace then headed back towards Westminster. Although the sun was shining brightly, it was pretty cold so I set off on a mission to find a hat and/or scarf. We passed a shop that sold scarves and I went in to have a look. I was quickly drawn to a bright (Giving Voice) pink one but I knew it wouldn’t go with the red coat I was wearing so I decided to get a black one (another Giving Voice colour!). To my delight, the man in the shop told me that the scarves were 2 for £5 so I decided to get a pink one and a black one! As I was paying, the man read my badge and said “Giving Voice to who? To what?” so, ever the chatterbox, I took the opportunity to explain the campaign and a little bit about speech and language therapy! Happy I’d told someone else that Speech and Language Therapy Transforms lives and now a lot warmer in my new scarf, we set off to find a hat (my ears were still cold!)
Walking around, I noticed a few people looking at my badge J and when I found a shop that sold a hat, the lady on the till asked what my badge was for.  I was delighted to talk about the campaign again, and was quite impressed so many people seemed to be interested J
I have been wearing my badge all week since I returned home (complete with my hot pink scarf and black winter coat!) ready to spread the word some more when people ask.
If you were at Mass Mobilisation and got a badge – why not wear it when you are out and about to Give Voice and spread the message that Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives!
Me wearing my GV badge (Big Ben in the background!)

Me wearing my GV badge (complete with new hat and scarf!)

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Celebrating Achievements: RCSLT Honours and Giving Voice Awards

I was delighted to be invited to the RCSLT Honours and Giving Voice Awards Ceremony 2011 on the evening of October 18th. I’ve been looking forward to it for a couple of weeks, but once in London the excitement really began to build!

After I finished my meeting with Ian Lavery, MP, I headed back to the hotel to change my clothes and get to my hairdressers appointment. The hair salon was next door to the hotel where we were staying and I made the appointment on Monday. The hairdresser was lovely and we engaged in conversation about my day. I took the opportunity to tell her about Giving Voice and the meeting with my MP. She hadn’t heard of the campaign before but she seemed interested in learning about it.
From leaving the hairdressers, I didn’t have long to get ready and get photos with my parents before we had to leave for Church House. I was hoping we might bump into David Hasselhoff again (this time all nicely dressed, with camera in hand!) but no such luck! (Never mind, obviously wasn’t meant to be.)

Drinks Reception

Upon arrival at Church House, we were greeted by Ele Buckley (National Co-ordinator for Local Campaigns) and I introduced her to my parents. Susan Fairbrother, from RCSLT, then signed us in and led us upstairs to the Hoare Memorial Hall for the drinks reception and photo opportunity.

During the drinks reception I introduced myself to Jennie Marshall (the inspirational Speech and Language Therapist who cycled 180 miles to get to Westminster communicating with her light writer – check out her fantastic blog London or Bust). It was lovely to meet Jennie and hear about her experiences having followed her blog throughout her journey. I admire her efforts and think she has raised lots more awareness through this experience. She used her light write (Leonard) in the meeting with her MP, and even let him have a try at using it! J Well done Jennie!

Jennie Marshall and Me

Gala Dinner and Awards

Checking the seating plan to see where I would be sitting, I was excited to see a few names that I recognised (Speech and Language Therapists who have published research etc as well as Gareth Gates!). Once seated, I was delighted to see that Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, and Shadow Minister of Education, was seated on our table with us. Ms Hodgson is a lovely lady and this provided opportunity to network as she introduced me to some of her colleagues (Nick Smith and Geraint Davies (MPs in Wales) and John Bercow, Speaker of the House). Ms Hogdson, Mr Smith and Mr Davies are all supportive of Giving Voice and the work of SLTs and are keen to raise questions in the House of Commons.

Nick Smith, MP , Me and Sharon Hodgson, MP (Shadow Minister for Education)

Geraint Davies, MP and I

The dinner and entertainment was wonderful, and it was exciting to be mingling with so many fantastic people. I also had opportunity to meet Gareth Gates for a chat and photos (which was quite exciting as I voted for him Pop Idol when I was 12! I told him this too!).

The RCSLT Honours ceremony was extremely inspiring and I felt privileged to be watching so many phenomenal individuals being congratulated for years of dedication to the profession. The Giving Voice Awards were equally inspiring, and I felt proud not only to be a Speech and Language Therapist but also to be part of such a brilliant campaign.

I am extremely proud of the North of Tyne Collaboration for winning the Service Award for England - a fantastic team of Speech and Language Therapists and students (with great links to the university), who have worked hard all year long to raise awareness of Giving Voice in a number of ways. Their enthusiasm and team spirit has been inspirational and it has been a pleasure Giving Voice with them all year and I look forward to more Giving Voice related activities in the coming months. I am proud to say I am part of such a brilliant team (through Giving Voice). The Service Award was presented by John Bercow (Speaker) and collected by Alison Proudfoot, Sue Welsh, Kath Frazer and Samantha Hicks on behalf of the team. Well done North of Tyne!!

North of Tyne collecting the Service Award for England

Some of the North of Tyne team with Gareth Gates

Gareth Gates, Mark Logue (Author, and Grandson of Lionel Logue, The King’s Speech) and Geoffrey Rush (Actor) were all nominated and awarded for their part in Giving Voice. Gareth and Mark both made acceptance speeches on stage, and we were shown a pre-recorded message from Geoffrey Rush.

I am still delighted and overwhelmed to have been awarded The ‘Outstanding Contribution to Speech and Language Therapy’ (from within the profession).

I’d like to thank the people that nominated me, it is very much appreciated! For me, Giving Voice has been (and always will be) about raising awareness of our wonderful profession (at a local and political level) and the valuable work that Speech and Language Therapists do on a daily basis for the benefit of people with Speech, Language, Communication or Swallowing needs. Therefore, for me to have been recognised in such a way is amazing and I feel truly honoured to have collected an award (which I dedicate to all service users). It makes me even more proud to say that I am part of such a fantastic profession and I am excited about my future career.

I’ve done lots of campaigning for Giving Voice this year but it would not have been possible without everyone who has supported me and the campaign (especially my family). I was very surprised and touched at how many people have heard of me through following my campaigning and my blog and totally overwhelmed at the fact that people (who I have not even met) are genuinely delighted that my work has been recognised.

After the awards ceremony we had the opportunity to mingle and I talked to some lovely people, including John Bercow (Speaker of the House), Avril Nicoll (editor of Speech and Language Therapy in Practice), Mike Richards (Speech and Language Therapist who helped Service User Mark Wilson overcome some of his difficulties and make a speech at his daughter’s wedding – read more here ) and David Curtin (Student Campaigner of the Year).

Avril Nicoll and I

David Curtin and I
Mike Richards and I

A fantastic evening celebrating so many wonderful achievements. Everyone there should be proud of themselves, and proud of being part of such a wonderful profession. Anyone who wasn’t there, should be equally proud because Giving Voice is a brilliant campaign. I was excited to hear that Newly Crowned Giving Voice Politician of the Year Robert Buckland, raised a question on Prime Minister’s Question Time!
Rt Hon John Bercow, Kamini Gadhok (CEO of RCSLT), Sir George Cox, Mark Logue, Gareth Gates and Bryony Simpson

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has congratulated me over the last week, it means a lot, but let’s not forget what it is all about…

Giving Voice is not over – so let’s keep spreading the message that Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Waking up Westminster

I woke up early on Tuesday morning with excited butterflies fluttering around my stomach, as the day of Mass Mobilisation had finally arrived! After breakfast, we headed out for a little wander around London. Our hotel was located in Central London so it did not take long before we were at Westminster.

Refreshments and Rally

I went into Church House Conference Centre about 11.30am and was feeling very excited and motivated! When I arrived I was surprised and delighted to see so many other people were already there. There was a lovely atmosphere in the Hoare Memorial Hall, where RCSLT provided light refreshments to fuel our energy for meeting our MPs.

It was lovely to see everyone mingling and I enjoyed meeting other speech and language therapists. I saw Jennie Marshall (the inspirational Speech and Language Therapist who cycled 180 miles to get to Westminster) communicating with her light writer (as she did for her whole journey – check out her fantastic blog London or Bust). Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to say hello to her, but I enjoyed her talk during the rally in which she used her light writer to tell us that the cycling was child’s play compared to using the communication aid. I found the whole rally inspirational and the atmosphere was electric. It was brilliantly organised and extremely empowering. It made me proud to be a speech and language therapist (albeit an unemployed one!) and filled me with admiration for SLTs all over the country.

Everyone seemed really excited to be part of such a big event and it was clear that everyone was dedicated to their profession.

Kamini Gadhok, CEO of RCSLT, talks at the Rally


After the rally we walked from Church house, across Westminster Bridge to get some group photos with the Houses of Parliament in the background. Walking across the bridge, flag in hand, the excited butterflies in my stomach were beginning to fly in formation ready for meeting with Ian Lavery, MP. Having always had an interest in politics, I couldn’t wait to go into the Houses of Parliament for my meeting!

Sam, Sarah (final year students at Newcastle) and Me

Me with Alison Proudfoot (group photos)

Westminster Bridge

Palace of Westminster – Meeting Ian Lavery, MP

Once through security, I announced my arrival at the reception desk and was told to wait in Central Lobby until Ian Lavery, MP arrived. Whilst I was waiting, I enjoyed looking around the magnificent area which is Central Lobby. The Speaker’s Procession took place while I was waiting. We found this quite fitting, that John Bercow, Speak of the House (and man behind the Bercow Review - A Review of Services for Children and Young People (0–19) with Speech, Language and Communication Needs) was walking through Central Lobby as we were waiting to meet out MPs to talk about the importance of Speech and Language Therapy.
(Before every sitting of the House, the Speaker's procession leaves the Speaker's House inside the Palace of Westminster and heads for the Commons chamber.)

Mr Lavery took me through the Palace of Westminster to an outdoor seating area, looking out onto the Thames, where we sat with a cup of tea and talked about the valuable role of speech and language therapists. He was every bit as supportive during this meeting as he was when I had the 1:1 lobby in constituency early in the year.

View from the Palace of Westminster

I felt like I was part of something really special on Tuesday, and I have been delighted to see that MPs have been blogging about meeting with their constituents. I think as a profession we woke up Westminster with regards to Speech and Language Therapy and I hope they continue to talk about it and work with their constituents to protect the profession for the future, so that those people who need it can access SLT services.

Congratulations to everyone who attended (or supported) the Mass Mobilisation event on Tuesday, I am proud to say I was part of it. RCSLT report:

  • 255 Speech and Language Therapists and service users turned up for the Giving Voice rally
  •  Over 100 MPs were met – in private meetings, at the event within parliament and via the green card system
  • Over 400 tweets which included the hashtag #givingvoiceuk were published during the day (keep them coming!) Why not tweet your MP

Giving Voice is not over yet so let’s keep sharing the message that Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Just another Monday morning?... meeting The Hoff

On Monday morning we set of for Newcastle Airport ready to Give Voice for Tuesday’s Mass Mobilisation in London. I have been excited about the mobilisation since the day I signed up months ago so you can imagine this excitement was even greater once our journey began.
Having been following the blog of Jennie Marshall (an SLT who cycled 144 miles to get to London for the mobilisation) over the last week, I’ve found myself thinking about my own communication a lot. This was especially so at the airport, as I couldn’t help think how scary and confusing such a place could be for someone with speech, language or communication needs (SLCN).  Even more so once we reached Heathrow and needed to ask for directions. A simple thing for my parents and I but a task which could be extremely difficult for someone with SLCN.
We made our way out of the airport, onto the tube and arrived at the hotel without any problems. A quick discussion and reading of the map and we realised it wasn’t far to walk from the tube station.
Once checked in, we made our way to the lifts in the hotel lobby. When we got there my mam said to me  ‘that man looked like David Hasselhoff!’ We didn’t think anything of it until a minute later he joined us in waiting for the lift. I agreed with my mam that the man did indeed look identical to David Hasselhoff, and I let her know this with a little non-verbal communication (a discreet smile and a nod!). By this time I really wanted to hear his voice to establish if he was a lookalike or really The Hoff. He got in the lift with us and just as we were going to ask him which floor he was going to he pressed the number himself (2, for anyone who is interested!) My dad said 'hello' as we got in the lift, and Mr Hasselhoff's 'hello' back confirmed his accent!!

I couldn’t help but look at the man in the lift, and then back at my mam. He smiled at us and I think he knew that we recognised him. He opened his room key card, as he smiled, and my mam and I saw that next to ‘customer name’ read: ‘Mr Hasselhoff’ – we looked at each other as if to say ‘I knew it!’ and my mam said ‘you are aren’t you?’ (yes mam, he is (The Hoff), but he can’t read your mind!) (My mam is mortified that she hadn’t thought of something more sensible to say, but it was just such a surreal moment, and I seemed to have lost my tongue completely! So I’m just glad she actually said something at all. I just stood there smiling!)
The Hoff smiled at us and asked us where we were from, and we had a brief conversation. He told us he was going to his room to sleep and when we asked what he was doing in London he said ‘lots of things, you’ll see me all over.’ Sadly at this point he got out the lift and we didn’t see him again. It all happened so quickly (from ground floor to level 2) that I didn’t even have time to ask for a photo. I was so annoyed with myself afterwards that I took it upon myself to write him a letter to tell him it was a pleasure to meet him. I also enclosed a Giving Voice leaflet and told him about the Mass Mobilisation which was due to take place the next day. I gave him my contact details and asked if he would like to meet me any point to get his photo taken to support the campaign, it would be very much appreciated. I then handed the letter in at reception and asked them to deliver it to his room. The lady on reception took the envelope from me and told me she would ensure it was delivered. (‘shy bairns get nowt!’ and all that). Unfortunately, I didn’t hear from him so I will never know if he received the letter. (I tweeted him but did not get a response).
Although a conversation with The Hoff in a hotel lift was more than ‘nowt’, I am disappointed I don’t have a photo. But you know how the saying goes – don’t Hassle the Hoff!
 My first day in London was indeed exciting, but Tuesday surpassed it by far. I’ll save that for another day though...

Me enjoying a cup of tea after meeting The Hoff

David Hasselhoff on BGT (sadly not a photo I took!)

A surreal few days...

I’m home now from a very exciting and rather surreal trip to London as part of the RCSLT Mass Mobilisation event. I have lots to write about (about all 3 days) so I think it will take a good few days before it’s all on here. I also have a lot of photos, from the Mobilisation event and the RCSLT Honours and Giving Voice Awards, so I’m sorting my way through those!
I think RCSLT need huge congratulations on planning, organising and carrying out such a brilliant day! Thank you RCSLT! It was fantastic to see so many people at the Mass Mobilisation and I was proud to be there alongside other SLT's and service users.
I’ll be updating this over the next few days about the events in London and of my Giving Voice experience. Please keep checking back and share it with your family and friends to help us to keep spreading the Giving Voice word that Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Speech, Sir Alan, and some Sausage Rolls!

On Friday, Sir Alan Beith, MP, visited the Speech and Language Therapy service in Berwick and I went along too. It was my first ever trip to Berwick (!) and I quite enjoyed the drive up to the other end of my beautiful county of Northumberland (I was lucky that the roads were pretty quiet so it only took about an hour). I don't know why I haven't been up to Berwick before as it's a lovely place :-)

Sir Alan arrived at Berwick Infirmary and was greeted by Sue Welsh, Head of Therapies and Daljit Lally, Executive Director of Adult Care. He then came along to the speech and language therapy department where two service users (a parent of a child with a stammer and a man who has aphasia following a stroke), two speech and language therapists and I met him.

Sue gave a short presentation explaining the value of SLT and outlining the Giving Voice campaign. We then had an informal group discussion with Sir Alan about the variety of work Speech and Language Therapists do.

Sir Alan was surprised at the variety of work speech and language therapists do on a daily basis. He said he was aware that SLT’s work with children who have speech difficulties, but he wasn’t aware of lots of the other work we do (such as work around language and swallowing). He enjoyed talking to the service users (who were both very positive about their experience of speech and language therapy) and told us he felt he was much more informed about the work we do.

Sir Alan, stayed with us for lunch (which was a lovely spread of sausage rolls, sandwiches and fresh fruit) and our discussions continued. Before he left, Sir Alan said he was beginning to think about how life would be for him if he was unable to speak, and realised how he wouldn’t be able to do his job in the same way and how different his life would be. Fortunately, for Sir Alan this was hypothetical, but for thousands of people every single day this is a reality.  

Following the discussion, a photographer took some photos of Sir Alan with the team to use for publicity, and newspaper coverage is due to follow (in the Berwick Advertiser and the health supplement of the Evening Chronicle).

Sir Alan will be meeting with Sue as part of the Mass Mobilisation on Tuesday. Now I’d best go and check I have everything for London as I’m travelling tomorrow, ready to meet my MP, Ian Lavery on Tuesday.

Check out the advice from RCSLT about using Twitter to spread the word about Mass Mobilisation.

Even if you aren’t heading down to London on Tuesday you can still help to spread the word on Twitter and Facebook. Let’s see how much we can Give Voice together!!

Sir Alan and I
Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

"Read all about it!!"

Journalists are becoming my new best friends this week! On Sunday night I went to see ‘The Feeling’ in Newcastle and got talking to a trainee journalist there (from a North East regional newspaper). Always keen to Give Voice, I told him about Speech and Language Therapy and the campaign. I also told him that I am joining other SLTs in London next week to talk to our MPs (can’t believe it’s only a week to go!!). He was interested in what I had to say and we exchanged contact details. I don’t know if anything will come of it, but it’s always good to have another contact! J
Our Ashington Extra arrived with a thud today and I decided to have a flick through it to see what exciting things have been happening in Ashington over the last week! I was delighted to see that there was a short piece about the talk I did with Liz in Newbiggin last Tuesday. The journalist I contacted last week was interested in hearing more about my campaigning (he is impressed with how proactive and enthusiastic I am!) and I’m glad he got another short piece printed in The Extra. I was pleased to see he published the GV web address, and he also printed my email in case any other groups would like a similar talk. I think the over 50’s really enjoyed the talk and I’d love to Give Voice to other groups too.
The journalist also asked me to report back how it goes with Ian Lavery next week J so hopefully some further publicity will follow.

Ashington Extra - Wednesday 12th October

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

A Quiz, some chocolate and a Ukulele!

This afternoon I attended an Over 50’s Club in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, with another SLT (Liz Panton) to talk about Giving Voice, and Speech and Language Therapy.  Before I got there I was a little nervous, as the prospect of talking to a group of pensioners was a little daunting. However, they welcomed us with open arms and I soon got into my stride!
I shared my Giving Voice poem (How would you feel?)  which everyone seemed to enjoy. I thought this was a nice introduction to what Speech and Language Therapy is about.  I asked the group (of about 40 people) if anyone had heard of Speech and Language Therapy before today and only 2 people raised their hands. I talked about the work we do and about why it is important.  I also talked about Giving Voice, my campaigning and the work of the campaign so far. I told them that two weeks today (!!) I will be talking to our MP Ian Lavery in Westminster as part of a mass mobilisation J I talked for about 10-15 minutes and then Liz very kindly played her ukulele song (fantastic!)
I gave everyone some chocolates to eat as they were completing the quiz, and everyone received a pen and a leaflet. The winning quiz team were rewarded in chocolate (which went down well!) I asked everyone to pass on the leaflet and tell someone one thing they learnt today to help Give Voice a little further!
I asked everyone to complete a speech bubble but not many people did. I asked one lady what communication means to her and she said “what does it mean to me? Well it’s everything!” Which I thought was very well said!
At the end of the talk one of the group members told us that her late husband had a stroke which left him with significant communication difficulties. Following his stroke he received speech and language therapy, which she says was fantastic.   For the last 8 and a half years of his life, she spent every afternoon using an old type writer to communicate with her husband, typing a message and patiently waiting for him to type his response.  
One of the people attending the group this afternoon works in a care home (and was accompanying one of the residents to the group). She took some leaflets and posters to take back to work with her and said she thinks the care home may be interested in me talking there. I gave her my email address in case she would like to get in touch (watch this space!)
I have contacted 2 local newspapers about this afternoon, so fingers crossed I will hear something back J
I had a lovely afternoon and would thoroughly recommend other people contacting local groups such as this to Give Voice!
Liz and I after the talk

Me and the Winning Quiz team