Giving Voice

Saturday, 24 March 2012

The King's Speech

On Monday 12th March, I went to see The King’s Speech at Newcastle Theatre Royal and it didn’t disappoint. All the acting was brilliant and I once again felt proud to be part of the Speech and Language Therapy Profession. The script was superb with some powerful words, particularly the King being “trapped in a body refusing to obey [his] commands.” Something that I am sure many people who stammer (or have other communication/swallowing difficulties) will relate to.  If you get the chance to see the play I would definitely recommend it! :-)

After seeing the success of the publicity around The King’s Speech film last year, I saw the stage show as another opportunity to Give Voice. I decided to email the Theatre Royal and ask if they were able to support the campaign in any way. I initially chose the person that I thought would be most appropriate to email, explaining a little bit about Speech and Language Therapy, Giving Voice and my involvement so far. I then asked if they were able to support us in any way, in terms of giving out leaflets etc. After a week, I hadn’t received a response so I decided to email more of the contacts from the website. I sent the same email again (this time with a little note at the end stating that if I had sent it to the incorrect department would they be able to forward it to the relevant person.) Within 2 days I had heard back from the Chief Executive’s office who asked the Front of House Manager to get in touch with me. (A little perseverance goes a long way!)

The front of house manager was extremely helpful and I explained about the campaign and what we wanted to do. He agreed that they could give leaflets out with the programmes, as well as have 2 volunteers attend at each performance. After speaking to other members of the North of Tyne steering group, we discussed arrangements for the week. We all agreed it would be good to have our ‘pop-up’ banner present, so I discussed this with the theatre and they said that was absolutely fine.

Recruiting volunteers was easy as lots of people were interested in helping out, including students, a service user and a dysfluency specialist. We were able to attend 7 out of 8 performances between us.

The organisation took time but it wasn't difficult and I would encourage others to try and do something similar if the opportunity arises.

I attended on the Monday (opening night) to drop the banner and leaflets off with the volunteers, and I attended to Give Voice at the Saturday matinee. The Giving Voice banner stayed in-situ all week.

The feedback was positive from the volunteers with reports that there was a lot of interest in the campaign. I attended the Saturday matinee performance, we spoke to a few people but the theatre had run out of programmes and so most people were more concerned about that. A few people asked us if we were selling programmes and when we said ‘no, but you can a leaflet about Speech and Language Therapy for free’ we were greeted on several occasions with ‘oh, no thanks, I’m not interested in that’. I was a little disheartened by the comments, but not surprised as I already know that people are often not interested in the profession, unless they have personal experience. It was a shame that the theatre had run out of programmes, as I think the atmosphere was a little flatter than it normally is before a show, so people were harder to engage. That said, we did still give out some leaflets and have a few positive conversations about the campaign – and you can’t win them all!

One man highlighted the importance of speech and language therapy for young children to enhance their educational outcomes.

I estimate that over the week we gave out about 150 leaflets that I designed plus a similar number of pink Giving Voice flyers (that were produced by the North of Tyne team). We also left a further 400-500 leaflets around the bar tables and with the people who were selling programmes, (on all floors, for the whole week) so hopefully some of these were also looked at.

Some of the feedback from the other volunteers included comments from people they spoke to:

“I’m very interested in speech and language therapy. I was a special needs teacher for many years”

“I’m a nurse and we quite often send people to speech and language therapy, so I know it’s very important”

“My son had speech and language therapy when he was young. He is fine now but it was ESSENTIAL”

“I think it’s really interesting. I’ll take some leaflets and pass them onto my access students”

Overall, I think the week was a successful at spreading the word further about Giving Voice. I tweeted the Theatre Royal to thank them for their support of #GivingVoiceUK and @kingsspeechplay  retweeted it!

I read a quote recently Volunteers don't get paid, not because they're worthless, but because they're priceless - I think this is so true and would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who volunteered to Give Voice at The King’s Speech. It wouldn’t have been a success without you all.

Keep spreading the word that Speech and Language Therapy Transforms lives! #GivingVoiceUK

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