Giving Voice

Monday, 21 November 2011

(No) Fog on the Tyne!

After arranging to hold a communication chain across Gateshead Millennium Bridge on a mid-November day I was slightly concerned that it would be cold, windy, foggy and raining. I warned everyone to wrap up warm and be prepared for any inclement weather; so I was extremely pleased to see glorious sunshine and not a cloud in the sky. There certainly wasn’t any Fog on the Tyne on this occasion! The lack of cloud cover meant there was a bit of a bite to the air but the sun was surprisingly warm for November. We couldn’t have wished for nicer weather!
On route to Gateshead, I text BBC Radio Newcastle to tell them about the event and to ask them to mention us on the radio. I listened for about 15 minutes after I sent the text but then we arrived in Gateshead and we had to get out the car, so I don’t know if Sue Sweeny mentioned us on her show.
There were some people playing Bagpipes in Baltic square and whilst this was not planned on our part, it made the task of blowing up the balloons much more enjoyable and we found ourselves blowing up the balloons in time to the music!
Shortly after people started to arrive on Gateshead Quayside, a very special made a wonderful entrance – a big pink 'Peppa' pig came dancing towards us!
We all posed for a large group photo complete with banners, balloons and our Pig friend! Once the photo opportunity was complete we made our way across the bridge and eagerly awaited the horn to signal the start of the message.

Group Photo
The message started at Alison Proudfoot and she used an alphabet chart to pass ‘Giving Voice to Bridge the Gap’ on to the next person who then wrote the message to pass along. Speech and Language Therapists, students, service users, friends, family and passers-by all took part in the Chinese whispers style communication chain. The message ‘Giving Voice to Bridge the Gap’ was passed along the chain in a variety of ways including, speech, signing, writing and texting.
Pink and black balloons could be seen all around Baltic Square and across Gateshead Millennium Bridge as we passed our message along our communication chain. Our chain attracted the attention of lots of passers-by (especially through our special guest ‘Peppa’ Pig who was a big hit with children and adults alike!) and led to some nice discussions around Speech and Language Therapy.
A few passers-by asked for a photo with ‘Peppa’ Pig and I heard one little boy say ‘Mam, I wonder where George is?’ which I thought was very cute! (for those of you who aren’t acquainted with Peppa Pig – George is her little brother!)

My nephew, niece and I with Peppa!
The message changed slightly as it was being passed along, but it kept the same meaning (e.g. Using voices to bridge the gap) and found it’s way back to ‘Giving Voice to the Bridge the Gap’. The horn sounded again and we all turned round for a panoramic photo of the chain on the bridge.
I followed the whole chain to take video and photos and it was interesting to see all the different ways people communicated the message. I noticed how much slower the process was when people were not using speech to pass the message on (e.g. writing or an alphabet chart) and this is just one of the many challenges that people with communication difficulties face every day.
At the end we all made our way back over to Gateshead Quayside for another photo opportunity. It was a very enjoyable for everyone involved and we got the Giving Voice message out to more people!
Thanks to everyone who came along and supported the event and also to everyone who tweeted support on the day! Let’s keep spreading the message that Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Be Part of a Communication Chain...

I am getting quite excited for tomorrow’s event on Gateshead Millennium Bridge! I really hope the weather is like it has been today (sunny and dry - if a little cold!)

I have Giving Voice balloons and I've bought pink and black ones as well as balloon sticks to make us stand out tomorrow.  I can't wait to see them all blown up (hope it doesn't take us too long!).

If you haven’t already seen the facebook event check it out here for more information. It’s not too late to decide to come and join us! We’ve got free balloons and stickers!

If you can’t make it to the event please support our cyber chain by tweeting about the event (#givingvoiceuk) or updating your facebook status. I’ve been tweeting a range of people/organisations in the area in the hope they might retweet about the Giving Voice event (so far altweet_pet have retweeted to 1800 followers and Koast Radio to 280 followers J)

I was pleased to see that this weeks News Post Leader had a short piece in about the North of Tyne Collaboration’s award and about Sir Alan Beith’s visit to the SLT service in Berwick. It didn’t mention Giving Voice but was nice to see they are talking about the good work of speech and language therapists again! The headline is ‘MP Praises Speech Team’. I cannot find the News Post Leader’s online version but I’ll upload a photo of the piece soon.

I hope to see you Giving Voice tomorrow (either on Gateshead Millennium Bridge or in cyber space!) Good Luck everyone! Let’s make it an event to remember because Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Abseiling and a Lighthouse

Last Saturday some fantastic people abseiled down Souter Lighthouse (Whitburn, South Tyneside) in aid of the North East Trust for Aphasia (NETA). I wasn’t one of these amazing people, but I did go along to support them and to Give Voice.
Souter Lighthouse

·        NETA's main purpose is to support people with Aphasia, providing information and therapy support and the funding of the NETA Aphasia Support Centre
  • Aphasia is the loss or impairment of speech and language skills following brain damage (arising from a stroke or head injury).
  • One third of everyone who has had a stroke has problems with communication. Current figures show there are some 58,000 people in the North East who have aphasia.
In our second year at Newcastle University we have a placement in the Aphasia Centre and we get to be a part of the therapy, working individually with some of the service users. Therefore, we get to see first hand how important speech and language therapy is for people with Aphasia. NETA is a charity close to my heart (because of the links with university, but also because it’s great!) so I was very happy to go along and support the abseil. (I have raised money for NETA in the past – my brother in law ran the GNR 2 years ago for them and I had 2 stalls at Ashington Street Fairs this summer).

I wore my Giving Voice t-shirt for the event at the lighthouse (when it got cold though I did put my coat on! My GV badge was still visable though!) Initially I was set up inside the gift shop of the lighthouse but it wasn’t very busy so I the moved the display board outside and stood it on one of the fisher boats. Whilst inside I had the opportunity to talk to a lady whose husband had a stroke 14 years ago and has been actively involved in NETA ever since. She had not previously heard of Giving Voice so I told her about it and gave her some leaflets and pens (she told me she would share them at a Stroke Association she goes to with her husband). She was extremely interested in the campaign and grateful that I took the time to talk to her.

I also told the National Trust staff about Giving Voice (as well as NETA as I think the go well together to explain the importance of Speech and Language Therapy) and left some pens and leaflets with them. They too, were interested in learning about Giving Voice and appreciated how important SLT is (though this was something they said they had not thought about previously!)

Once outside I gave out a few stickers and leaflets as well as cheering on the people abseiling. All in all a very enjoyable day with the opportunity to Give Voice to some people – really pleased I was able to be part of it (I have so much admiration for the people who actually abseiled!)

At the bottom of the lighthouse

Info stand inside the giftshop/museum

My niece Toni and I with the display (inside the boat!)
If you know of a local event taking place (similar to this) why not go along with some GV leaflets some balloons, or even just yourself and see if you can engage at least one more person in a GV/SLT related conversation - you never know who you might bump into and what influence your little chat could have :-)

Sunday, 6 November 2011

A Little Bit of Everything...

I’m pleased to see that MPs (mine included) are still blogging about meeting a Speech and Language Therapist at the Mass Mobilisation (Ian Lavery's Webpage) . Hopefully we’ll see lots more in the coming weeks! It was also good to see a full page spread in the Health Supplement of last Monday’s Evening Chronicle. (Speech and Language Team Win National Award)

On walking into a local pub on Friday night I was greeted by the barman telling me that he recognised me from the newspaper, as he’d seen me twice. I don’t know if was my face or my Giving Voice badge which led him to recognise me. But I smiled and confirmed that he had the correct person. He then asked the 3 men sat at the bar if they had seen me in the paper too. They all said no but were keen to know which Newspapers and why. The chatterbox in me saw this as the perfect opportunity to tell them about Giving Voice (I pointed out my badge) and the valuable work of speech and language therapists. They seemed very interested and I also told them about the mass mobilisation event and how I met our MP Ian Lavery in the Houses of Parliament. I stood talking to them for about 5 minutes and it was lovely to see they were so enthusiastic to hear about speech and language therapy.

The North of Tyne Collaborative have organised a Human Communication Chain which is due to take place on Gateshead Millennium Bridge on November 20th. If you are in the area, it would be great if you could come along and support us. If not, please support us in advertising the event (facebook event can be found here) and tweeting/updating your facebook status to raise more awareness of Giving Voice. More details of the event to follow soon!

Evening Chronicle, 31st October - (the print is the same as the online article)