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!

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