Giving Voice

Friday, 30 December 2011

A time to reflect...

December has been such a busy month that I haven’t had the chance to blog about my Giving Voice activity! That’s not because I’ve forgotten about Giving Voice, it’s just that I’ve had little time to sit down and type about it.

At the beginning of the month I was pleased to see that ‘A Creeful of Coals’ printed a Giving Voice update: a full page ‘A Quiz, some chocolate and a Ukulele’ detailing the afternoon Liz Panton and I went and spoke at Newbiggin Ladies Club. It’s a good article, with info about the afternoon, and facts about speech and language therapy and the Giving Voice campaign. There are also two photos from the event and details of the GV website (and my email address, should any other groups like me to do a similar talk). ‘A Creeful of Coals’ is available in many local North East shops and via mail subscription (UK and overseas).

Newbiggin Ladies Club
On Christmas Day, after lunch, we had a kind of secret santa for my family and I. My sister opened a present of 6 Giving Voice pens (it probably wasn’t very secret who they came from!) and she was VERY excited! She uses them at work (as a Nurse on an Elderly Care ward) and I usually give her them sparingly as I try to save them for people who haven’t already heard of Giving Voice. However, as it’s Christmas and she uses them in her work environment I decided to be extra generous! I’ve also recently started mentoring a young person. She likes pens so I gave her a Giving Voice one and she was interested in hearing about my profession. She also told me that she had speech and language therapy when she was younger. 
I’ve recently started learning how to play the Ukulele (not something I have EVER thought about before!) Liz Panton, (and her fantastic Ukulele song about Speech and Language Therapy) inspired me to do something different and I’ve met some lovely people at the Ukulele group that I now attend fortnightly! I’ve had a number of speech and language therapy related conversations with some of the other group members, some of which have had contact with Speech and Language Therapists and appreciate our important role.

I cannot begin to describe how this year has been for me. In January, when I attended the first session about Giving Voice at Newcastle University with Ele Buckley (then Ramsey) I never imagined it would have led to such a brilliantly productive and enjoyable year.


Ashington Street Fair
 It is safe to say that I have learned a lot in 2011, both through university and Giving Voice. I have gained experience and actively sought to develop my confidence in situations that have been important in taking the campaign forward. For example, I have begun to build a good working relationship with local MP Ian Lavery, following the 1:1 lobby in June, which to be honest is not something I ever saw myself doing! I’ve always had an interest in politics and I now enjoy using this interest to try to influence the government (even if that is just meeting with my MP and local councillors to discuss the importance of Speech and Language Therapy). The day of Mass Mobilisation is certainly up there in the best days of my life so far, as it was a wonderful to be part of something so powerful.

Mass Mobilisation - me with Alison Proudfoot
It is truly humbling when people tell you how fantastic they think the profession is due to personal experience. I have had an exciting and motivating year and I am proud to have been part of a brilliant campaign. I would never have described myself as someone who is likely to campaign, but I would describe myself as enthusiastic and passionate, and Giving Voice has allowed me to tailor that enthusiasm and take it forward to raise awareness of Speech and Language Therapy. It has been amazing to see just how creative and proud the profession is in our quest to ‘shout about’ just how good we are! Also, RCSLT have done an amazing job!

My initial interest in getting involved in Giving Voice was to raise awareness of what Speech and Language Therapists do as throughout my training, like many other SLTs,  I have been faced with lots of questions that demonstrate that the profession is little understood. I want to spread the word to the public, one person at a time to increase awareness of what we do.

I also got involved to raise awareness at a higher level, with the government, to ensure that they understand the important role of SLT services. This is important to ensure that SLT services remain there in the future, both so that newly qualified SLTs can get jobs and more importantly to ensure that people with communication and swallowing difficulties get the specialist support that they need to be able to participate fully in their everyday lives.

Communication Chain on Gateshead Millennium Bridge
Communication is absolutely vital to be able to form and maintain relationships with family, friends and society. Whether this is a child just starting out and finding their way in the world, or an older person trying to maintain those relationships following a brain injury or degenerative disease; communication is key. I have personal experience of family members with communication and feeding difficulties, so I understand a bit about how these difficulties impact on family life. Therefore it is vital that people can access the SLT support they need.

It’s been fantastic to be involved in so many Giving Voice events throughout the year and seeing some of these reported in local media. I started this blog to share some ideas and report on my own involvement in GV and I can’t believe there’s been over 2000 page views in just 5 months! I don’t know who reads it but I appreciate that people are interested in what I have to say. I will continue to blog into the New Year J

I cannot begin to describe how much I have enjoyed being involved in Giving Voice and I look forward to seeing what the New Year brings for the campaign and the profession! Hopefully 2012 will be an even greater year for Speech and Language Therapy (and see me getting my first post as an SLT!). I’ve met some wonderful people through Giving Voice this year (both on and off line) - and it has even led to me learningto play the Ukulele! and I am extremely proud to say I am part of the profession and have been part of this brilliant campaign.

Wishing you all the very best for 2012 – thank you to everyone who has been involved in Giving Voice this year – for me it truly has been a year to remember!

Speech & Language Therapy Transforms Lives

*~*~*~* For Grandma - the woman who taught me that life’s not always easy or fair but we have to fight for what we believe in – and we’ve got to laugh or else we’ll cry! *~*~*~*