Giving Voice

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Lights, Camera, Campaign!

Welcome to my 90th post! When I first started blogging about Giving Voice back in 2011 I didn't know how it would go so I am delighted that I have reached 90 posts and exceeded 21,000 page views! This will be my last post of the year but I hope to reflect on 2013 soon!

You may have heard that RCSLT held a Giving Voice photography competition earlier in the year. The competition was judged by the Countess of Wessex and Arthur Edwards (Royal Photographer for The Sun). RCSLT received 100's of entries and the winning selection have been turned into a 2014 Giving Voice calendar.

I entered 4 photos into this competition and was delighted to hear that 2 of them won! Both of my winning photos were taken in North East England - one was at the Communication Chain on Gateshead Millennium Bridge (to find out more about this event see here) and the other is of me holding a speech bubble next to the Miner Statue where Ellington Colliery once stood.

All of the photos in the calendar are fantastic! I'm looking forward to using mine throughout the year. I wrote to my MP, Ian Lavery to tell him about my photos being selected and asking for a photo opportunity to give him his own copy. I was delighted to get an appointment to visit Mr Lavery in his constituency office on Friday 20th December to present him with a calendar as a thank you for his previous support of Giving Voice.

Mr Lavery was delighted with his calendar, particularly the photo at Ellington, and says he will take it  to use in his office in Westminster! I took the opportunity to remind him of Giving Voice and the value of speech and language therapy. He is hugely supportive of the profession and thinks we do a fantastic job!

I emailed the News Post Leader to tell them about the calendar and my meeting with Mr Lavery and I attached the photo (below). I used my newly acquired knowledge from the media training when thinking about what I wanted to say in my email. I will look out for it in this weeks newspaper.
Me presenting Ian LAVERY, MP with the Giving Voice calendar 

I have also posted a calendar to Councillor Lesley Rickerby (Health and Well Being Board) with a letter reminding her of Giving Voice. (She attended the entertainment evening I held last year).

On my last day at work before Christmas I was talking to a colleague about the meeting I had with my MP and I encouraged her to email her own MP (which she did). She also ordered a calendar to give to him if he agrees to meet up to learn about Giving Voice. She has told me she'll let me know when she hears back!

Why not order a Giving Voice calendar of your own (here) and perhaps give it to your MP or councillor to continue spreading the message that Speech and Language Therapy Transforms lives!

Wishing you all the very best for the New Year!

Monday, 30 December 2013

Media Training

On Saturday 23rd November I was in London with the other members of the Giving Voice Innovation Group for Media training. I travelled to London on the Friday afternoon and met up with Sara and Ruth for a meal. We hadn't met before so this was a nice opportunity to get to know them the night before the media training :) we also had a little look round London after our meal, making the most of our time in the capital.

The training took place in the RCSLT offices and was an enjoyable (albeit challenging) day! The aim of the training was to enable us to be equipped with the skills needed to engage with the media to promote Giving Voice and Speech and Language Therapy.

The training was delivered by Derek Munn, Emma Barnes and Robin Matheou. We practised (via role play!) being ‘interviewed’ by a newspaper journalist, radio presenter and TV journalist (in front of a camera!) This was good practice but I found that I was more nervous in these situations than I was when being interviewed live on BBC Radio Newcastle earlier in the year!

We had opportunity to watch some of the videos that were recorded on the day and this was good experience to see how other SLTs respond to some challenging questions. We learned about what makes a good news story which I found useful and this will definitely be something I think of when contacting the media in the future. Once the training was finished we had a Giving Voice Innovation Group meeting to discuss future Giving Voice plans –particularly ideas around The International Communication Project 2014 (find out more at and sign the pledge here recognising that the opportunity to communicate is a basic human right (I’m sure you’ll all agree with that!) I am excited about 2014 and the International Communication Project – are you getting involved?!

Giving Voice Innovation Group

Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Fabulous Fireworks

Remember remember 5th November...

On bonfire night this year I was on a river cruise on the Tyne with my family. It was a fundraising event hosted by North East Trust for Aphasia (NETA) to raise money to support their work. As you may know, NETA supports individuals (and their families) with Aphasia - communication difficulties following a stroke, or other brain injury.

I met my family in Newcastle straight after work and we headed to the boat which was waiting for everyone to board at the Quayside. Once on the boat we ordered some drinks (a nice hot cup of tea as it was freezing outside!) and waited for our cruise to begin.

I was wearing a black and pink dress (accessorised with a Giving Voice badge!) and I put Giving Voice leaflets on all of the tables. I provided my family with Giving badges too, which they all happily agreed to wear (with only a little reluctance from one of my teenage nephews!)

I volunteered to sell the raffle tickets so I had the opportunity to speak to everyone on the boat. It was nice to catch up with some of the members and they were interested to hear about how my new job is going :-)

The evening was lovely, with fireworks lighting the sky. Many people stood upstairs on the deck, wrapped up warm,  to enjoy the view. My nephew and niece both had a turn at driving the boat which made their night!

It was lovely to spend some time with my family and help a fantastic charity raise some extra funds. I enjoyed helping to sell the raffle tickets and it was a good opportunity to hand out Giving Voice leaflets to remind everyone about it. I saw people looking at them and some took them home.

An enjoyable evening raising money and awareness of Aphasia and I look forward to the next time I can take part in one of their events. My family and I have been fundraising over the last few months and I presented NETA with a cheque for £200 on the night. Together with the fantastic fundraising efforts of my sister and brother-in-law for the Great North Run, and our afternoon tea event in September, I am delighted to say that we've raised more than £1000 for NETA this year! Thank you to everyone who has helped us to support this fantastic cause!

Me presenting the cheque to Janet Speight, Chair of NETA 

Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives!

Friday, 18 October 2013

Two years on...

Tuesday 18th October 2011 was one of the best days of my life. Two years ago today, along with 200 other Speech and Language Therapists, I was in London for MassMobilisation. We went to the Houses of Parliament to meet our MPs and talk about the importance of speech and language therapy.

Two years on and Giving Voice is still going! The importance of speech and language therapy is still very high on the agenda.  Communication is something we take for granted every day, which is why we need to keep raising awareness for those that need the support of SLTs. Everyone has the right to communicate, to express their wants, needs and feelings. Speech and language therapists enable this to happen for individuals which need support. But we don't stop there! We also help people with swallowing and feeding difficulties. The pleasure of eating and drinking is something else taken for granted when we can do it with ease. Speech and language therapists really do transform lives!

I'm going to tweet my MP today to thank him for his continued support and remind him of our meeting two years ago.

I started this blog as a way of sharing Giving Voice ideas and hopefully inspire others to get involved, as well as raising awareness of Speech and Language Therapy. I didn't know if anyone would read it, but I continue to write it just in case. I'm a big believer in spreading the message one person at a time :) this time last year I had just reached 10,000 page views and it is now at just over 21,000! I'm delighted that people are continuing to read and share it!

Please keep spreading the word that speech and language therapy transforms lives. One day someone you love might need our support.

On a slightly different note I am delighted to be starting a new job on Tuesday! My first clinical post with the NHS :) I've really enjoyed my work in research and as a therapy assistant but am very excited to be starting my new temporary post! :)

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

RCSLT Hub Summit, Honours and Giving Voice Awards!

On Thursday I attended the RCSLT Hub Summit in Birmingham. I travelled down by train on Wednesday afternoon and checked into the Holiday Inn, where the event was held. After settling into my room I went to the hotel bar to have some food before a quiet night watching TV looking forward to the day ahead!
My room for the night!
After breakfast I checked out of my room and then headed to register at the event. I saw a couple of Giving Voice Innovation Group members and enjoyed catching up with them before the event started.
The day started with the AGM, led by chair of RCSLT Bryony Simpson. There were a number of presentations throughout the day as well as group discussions to talk about outcomes and regional hubs. It was a pleasure talking to so many enthusiastic speech and language therapists and really interesting listening to all the speakers. (Presentations will be online in the next two weeks with author’s permission).

I visited the Giving Voice stand and looked at the photos that were short listed for the Giving Voice calendar. Looking forward to seeing which ones won when RCSLT announce it next month :)
Giving Voice stand
At the end of the day was the RCSLT Honours Ceremony with the Giving Voice Awards 2013. This was a truly inspirational hour, making me feel proud to be a speech and language therapist. I was delighted to hear that Dr Helen Stringer was awarded an RCSLT Honours. She is a lecturer at Newcastle University (where I studied) and is inspirational! Well done to everyone who was awarded RCSLT Honours 2013, they were all truly deserving recipients!

Dr Helen Stringer receiving her Honours

There were four Giving Voice awards presented after the honours awards. These were all for SLTs (and students) who have had Innovative ideas in contributing to the campaign. I enjoyed talking to the award winners and hearing about their campaigning. One of the winners is now living in the North East and we are hoping we might be able to ‘Give Voice’ together in the near future!
Some of the award recipients!

After the awards, members of the Giving Voice Innovation group met for an informal meeting. It was nice to catch up with everyone and to discuss future plans  :) I am looking forward to travelling to London next month for some additional training and also for our next meeting.

Some of the Giving Voice Innovation Group

I really enjoyed my time in Birmingham and I am looking forward to attending the inaugural Hub meeting in the North East on Monday.

Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Oranges and Jelly Babies!

A week today since the thousands of fantastic people completed the Great North Run 2013. I was on the side lines at the 11 mile mark cheering on the inspirational runners with a smiling face, oranges and jelly babies!

My sister lives in South Shields so we set up near her house. My dad helped us set the gazebo up (in an attempt to shelter from the rain!). We then set up the table and my mam started cutting up the oranges. My nephews and nieces helped us give out the jelly babies (and also helped hold the poles of the gazebo to stop it blowing away as it was so windy!)

In front of the gazebo we had our board of Giving Voice posters and my mam, me and niece were wearing our Giving Voice t-shirts.

It was such a brilliant day (even the weather didn't spoil it too much!) and the runners were so grateful that we had sweet treats to cheer them on! Someone told us that Mel C thanked the little girl at 11miles for the jelly baby and we think that was very likely to be my niece, Toni!

We stayed out almost until the last runners went past and I enjoyed seeing my sister, brother-in-law and friend Rachael running past!

In fact the whole day was so inspirational that I have decided I am going to run next year! I've already emailed NETA to request information about joining their team next year and have been out for a couple of walk/jogs! I have also started a running blog to share my journey and keep me motivated! Check out this blog to read more about why NETA inspired me to run :-)

I saw lots of people reading our poster (Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives) so hopefully our important message was received by lots more people :-)

My sister and brother-in-law have raised an amazing £500 for the North East Trust for Aphasia!!

Thanks to everyone who helped us on the day: mam, dad, Mo, Charlotte, Toni, Darius, Cerina and Dom!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Communication without speech!

I would like to welcome a guest blogger to my blog today! Jenette Milner is a speech and language therapy student at Newcastle University and she took part in No Voice Week, earlier this year…

Receiving our nomination for the Giving Voice ‘Innovation award 2013’ caused me to look back over the past seven months and realise how much awareness the DVoiced campaign has raised and how much I have learned about AAC (alternative augmentative communication) in the process.

We are a group of student speech and language therapists, studying at Newcastle University and I personally had no experience of AAC when we started out on the campaign. I felt that I should know more about using AAC for my future role as a speech and language therapist and wanted to gain a user’s perspective. The idea to spend a week using alternative communication seemed to perfectly coincide with the Giving Voice campaign, ‘No Voice Week’ which was April 22nd-26th. A facebook page (Dvoiced), twitter account (@Dvoiced) and blog were created in preparation to share our experiences and thoughts prior to and during the week. We each chose a method of communication including both high and low tech, including Dynavox and Liberator devices, smart phones with free apps, iPad apps and a communication book. When these failed we occasionally had to resort to our limited knowledge of Makaton, BSL and hand gestures/facial expressions.

The campaign allowed us to experience first hand (although within a short time frame) how difficult it can be to rely on alternative communication and the adaptations needed to participate in every day exchanges. We found common problems across communicative devices such as being able to keep-up with the conversation speed, gaining someone’s attention, asking questions and access to a limitless range of vocabulary. Most of our interactions were positive with communicative partners being patient and adapting the interaction to allow use of the device, however, some attitudes towards an electronic voice were negative.

We used the various devices throughout the week to talk to family members, buy travel tickets, shopping, coffees etc. We used them within university, during lectures and within the library and we also visited a restaurant and a busy pub, to try to experience the use of AAC across environments.

During ‘No Voice Week’ we arranged a drop-in session for fellow speech and language students to see and use the devices, held an awareness-raising stall on campus, met with the disability officer on campus to discuss students use of AAC devices and the support available, received training on the Dynavox device and some members were able to attend a 1Voice NE event to meet AAC users and their families. We also met with local comedian and AAC user Lee Ridley ‘Lost Voice Guy’ to chat about his incorporation of his device into his stand-up comedy career.

We blogged/tweeted and ‘facebooked’ our experiences of using AAC including the positive and occasional negative experiences. However, we were each astounded by how far-reaching the campaign was and the support it received. The blog had over 200 views, reaching people all over the world as well as local supporters including Liz Panton of ‘SaLT Mine Daily Diggings’ and we have new twitter followers every week. Due to this we were lucky enough to test-drive a new app, (AACorn) currently being developed and provide feedback on usability. There is a wealth of information and support available online and I am sure that our experiences will support our role as speech therapists in the future.

Overall, the event allowed us to gain more experience and understanding of alternative communication, the various options available, users and their families feelings towards this and a users perspective of the difficulties surrounding the use of communicative devices. I hope that we were also able to raise awareness of alternative communication and the use of AAC with those that we interacted with throughout the course of the week and feel privileged to have been able to hear first-hand opinions and preferences regarding AAC use and the challenges that they can bring.


Thanks Jenette and good luck to Dvoiced with your award nomination – I look forward to hearing who won! :) Well done to everyone who took part in what was an excellent awareness raising event!

Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Oranges and Jelly Babies at #GNR

One week today until the Great North Run!!

For the last two years my family, friends and I have been on the side lines of the Great North Run cheering on the runners whilst handing out Jelly Babies. We also wear Giving Voice t-shirts to help raise a little more awareness of the campaign.

My sister and brother-in-law are both running this year (my sisters first time) so I am looking forward to cheering them on. We will be set up on the grass on the left side of the road, just before the 11 mile mark (not far from where my sister lives). My friend Rachael is also running for the first time so I am excited to cheer on the people I know as well as the thousands of people that I don’t!

We will be handing out oranges and jelly babies to the runners to help raise their spirits as they enter the final stretch of the run. The runners, the past two years, seem to really appreciate this and it is nice to be able to help them along! If you are running or know anyone who is, please do share this blog so they know to look out for us!

Our collection of Jelly Babies!

My sister and brother-in-law are both running for the North East Trust for Aphasia – a charity which helps people with communication difficulties following a stroke or other brain injury.  I have had the pleasure of working at NETA since April and the members are truly inspirational. They all benefit greatly from the work of NETA and I am delighted that Joanne and Craig are running to support this very worthy cause. If you can help support NETA, please sponsor Joanne and Craig here (however small, as every penny counts!)

If you are watching the GNR on TV look out for our Giving Voice Banner and our t-shirts when the cameras film the elite runners going past! I can’t wait to be part of the experience of the Great North Run 2013 and wish every one taking part lots of luck. Every runner is a hero in my eyes and I look forward to cheering them on with jelly babies and a smile!

I am delighted my blog has reached more than 20,000 page views – thank you to everyone who reads it. Please do share it with your family and friends to help continue spreading the message that Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Afternoon Tea

On Sunday, I hosted an Afternoon Tea in aid of the North East Trust for Aphasia (NETA) at Crossroads Coffee shop in Ashington.

I wanted to use this opportunity to raise awareness of Giving Voice and the North East Trust for Aphasia, as well as gaining some additional funds to support the work of NETA.

The afternoon was a huge success. We sold 26 tickets and raised a total of £185. We also had a raffle and tombola to raise additional funds on the day. Each table had a quiz sheet which everyone was encouraged to take part in. Almost all of the answers were in the Giving Voice and NETA leaflets to encourage people to read them and hopefully learn something new! The tie break question asked each team to write what communication means to them inside a speech bubble. The winning bubble was “Communication helps people solve problems.”


Afternoon tea was delicious, with a variety of sandwiches, scones and cakes, all freshly made especially for the event! Everyone thought the food was beautiful and well worth the £5 for the cost of the ticket. We put a candle into a cupcake and surprised my mam with a beautiful version of "Happy Birthday!" (well we all sang anyway!) to celebrate her birthday the previous day! 

Crossroads Coffee Shop was a lovely location and the volunteers were brilliant. They prepared all the food from fresh, themselves. Thank you to everyone who helped out and to everyone who attended!

Cakes and prizes!

This event was definitely worthwhile and I look forward to planning something similar in the future. If you know any local cafe's that support charities why not see if you can arrange something similar where you are?!

Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Meeting a Dragon? I'm in!

Last night I went out in Newcastle with my friends. I only decided yesterday afternoon that I would be going out and I am so glad that I did!!

As it was raining we decided to head to The Gate as its all indoors and this would minimise the amount of time we would get wet! When we arrived at Bannatyne my friend informed us that Duncan Bannatyne himself had just been in! We decided to hang around there a while longer in case he came back, and to our delight he did. We asked him for a photo, to which he happily agreed! About 5 minutes later we decided to go and see him again to get some more photos and to have a chat with him. He was more than happy to chat to us and I gave him a Giving Voice pen and told him that Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives. I was delighted that he put the pen in his pocket!
About an hour later I was ordering a drink in another bar and found myself standing next to Duncan again. He said hello and I took the opportunity to raise some more awareness of SLT.
Me: “Did you know that 2.5 people in the UK have speech, language or communication needs?”
Duncan: “I did know that. How do you know?”
I told him that I am a speech and language therapist and he told me about his involvement with Operation Smile UK and his recent trip to Mexico! Click here to find out more!
It was a pleasure to meet him and to have the opportunity to engage in a speech and language therapy related conversation – especially as it was totally unexpected! I always carry a Giving Voice pen with me (even on a night out!) as you never know who you might bump into to spread the message one person further that Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives. Wouldn’t it be great if we see him use his new Giving Voice pen on the next series of Dragons Den?! (haha)
Me and Duncan just before I gave him the pen :)

On another note, just one week to go until afternoon tea! I am looking forward to raising awareness of Giving Voice and some much needed funds for the North East Trust for Aphasia, supporting people with language and communication difficulties following a stroke or other brain injury. I emailed the News Post Leader last week about the event and was delighted to see a short piece printed in this week’s edition! Contact me if would like a ticket :-)
News Post Leader

All in all a very exciting couple of days!  

Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

A day out at #edfringe

Welcome to my 80th blog post! I didn't think I'd still be blogging now, when I started this two years ago and I am delighted that it has exceeded 19,000 views! Thanks to everyone who reads and shares it to help us spread the word that Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives!

Last week my friend and I had an unplanned day off together so the night before when we were deciding what we might like to do, we randomly booked train tickets to Edinburgh so we could check out The Fringe – including a free afternoon show with Lost Voice Guy and Emily Wood.

We were lucky that the weather in Edinburgh was fabulous all day long and this was a great venue for a girly day out! When we arrived in Edinburgh we spent some time strolling the streets (wearing our Giving Voice badges and me with my Giving Voice bag!) exploring the street entertainment. We decided to go to a free show before lunch which was good. After lunch we wandered round some more then began to look for the venue where Lost Voice Guy was doing his gig. Anyone that knows me (and indeed my friend Rachael) will know that our sense of direction is not our strongest point! However, we managed to use the map and find the venue without too much difficulty (only a few wrong turns, and using the longest way possible to get there – but still! We did find it!)

We sat in the bar with a drink and while we were waiting we saw Lee Ridley arrive (Lost Voice Guy). We had a brief chat with him and it was great to hear how well his gigs are going at The Fringe this year.

The gig ‘Are you a technophile?’ - about growing up and living in an era of modern technology, was great! Lost Voice Guy was as funny as ever and I heard some of his jokes that I haven’t heard before J I would have loved to see his evening show too - Voice of Choice - but unfortunately we only planned to go for the day. After the gig we spoke to him again and got some photos too. If you've never seen Lost Voice Guy before and you are going to be at The Fringe this month – then definitely check him out!!

Lee Ridley and me

Rachael and Lee

Emily Wood

Hopefully people noticed our Giving Voice bag/badges as were wandering the streets of Edinburgh enabling us to spread the message a little bit further.

On another note, we are still buying lots of Jelly Babies for the Great North Run (we’ll be handing them out wearing Giving Voice t-shirts) just before the 11 mile mark. My sister and brother-in-law are both running for NETA (and both got their numbers this morning!). If you can help them to support people in the North East with Aphasia (communication difficulties following stroke and other brain injury) then please do so here! I’m really excited to be going along to support this fantastic event again this year!

Only two weeks on Sunday until afternoon tea at Crossroads CoffeeShop, Ashington. Contact me for tickets if you’d like to attend and are in the area! Tickets are selling quite fast so let me know asap if you want to attend this event. I did invite Wansbeck MP, Ian Lavery, but unfortunately he is busy with other constituent business on the day.

Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives

Sunday, 28 July 2013

A Little Giving Voice Champion

You may have noticed in previous blog entries that my 7-year-old niece has been a keen supporter of Giving Voice since I started campaigning. She has attended events I have organised and has drawn numerous Giving Voice pictures for me (some of which I have shared in this blog).

Toni is a keen dancer and recently won the British and Scottish championship title for her age with her duo partner Leah. They have been in their local newspaper as they are going to Glasgow next month to compete for the world title.

When I was looking after Toni recently she did this picture which I thought was simply too cute not to share!

Dance Geeks - Toni Anne Seago

Giving Voice -

Wishing Toni and Leah lots of luck next month and I'm looking forward to seeing them dance and helping them raise some funds tonight! :-)

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Summer excitement!

It’s two years this month since I started my blog  (and it doesn't seem like two minutes!) so I thought I’d update it again before the end of the month.
This week I had a productive meeting about arranging an afternoon tea at Crossroads Café, Ashington to raise awareness of Giving Voice, Speech and Language Therapy and Aphasia whilst raising some funds for the North East Trust for Aphasia (NETA). Anyone who knows me knows how much I love tea so this is a very exciting event for me, for a very worthy cause. Tickets have already started selling for what is sure to be a lovely afternoon! For more information about this event click HERE. We will have a little quiz on the tables to get people engaging in the information as well as having a little fun and we are also going to hold a tombola to raise some extra funds.

If you know anyone who owns or runs a café could you organise something similar to raise awareness of communication and swallowing difficulties and the value of speech and language therapy. Perhaps you could raise funds for a local charity which supports people with communication or swallowing needs. If you’d like any further information about how to organize an event like this, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Earlier this month I attended the second of the online ‘GIG’ meeting – the Giving Voice Innovation Group were full of enthusiasm for the campaign. If you haven’t ‘met’ the group yet – take a look at this page on the Giving Voice website and get in touch with your local member to see what’s going on in your area! Also, don’t forget there’s still time to enter a photo into the Lights Camera Campaign competition – click here for further details – why not do a Giving Voice activity and submit a photo from the event?!
Last month I attended the North East Speech and Language Therapy Research Symposium, where I learnt lots of interesting information about research being carried out in the North East. Some of the current Newcastle Students held a Giving Voice stand with leaflets and pens etc and I spoke to them about the interest people had in the stand. They commented that lots of people thought the ‘Seven Signs’ leaflets were fantastic and took them to hand to schools or GPs. I think distributing these leaflets to GPs is a great idea so I am going to meet with SLTs in Northumberland to discuss how we might be able to do this. If you have picked up a ‘Seven Signs’ leaflet at any Giving Voice events, why not pass it onto someone who would benefit from the information.

Thank you to SLT student, Dominique Hill, for the Giving Voice photos from the NE SLT research Symposium

It’s only 50 days until the Great North Run (so social media informs me – I haven’t counted the days personally!) – we have quite a collection of jelly babies now to hand out to the runners on the day (whilst wearing Giving Voice t-shirts). My sister and brother-in-law are running for NETA so I will be looking out for them (and other people I know that are running) on the day. If you are able to support the fantastic work of NETA please sponsor my sister and brother-in-law here. I’m looking forward to going along and supporting the event – it’s always a fantastic atmosphere!
Our Jelly Babies Collection so far!

Well, I’m off to enjoy some sunshine now – hope you can too! (Before you do, why not share my blog to help spread the word that Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives!)

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

From April to July - where did the time go??

It has been a while since I last updated my blog (April) so I thought it was about time I gave it some attention. Life has been quite busy recently and although I haven't had time to blog, I have still been Giving Voice, so here's a little update :-)

A few weeks ago I went along to an event in Gosforth which aimed to raise funds for the North East Trust for Aphasia (NETA). For those of you that don't know, NETA is a charity which is based at Newcastle University and supports people with Aphasia (communication difficulties following a stroke or other brain injury). It also aims to raise awareness of the impact Aphasia has on the lives of individuals and their family and friends. If you would like more information about NETA visit their website here

The donkey derby was a cinema race night allowing people to place bets on horses before watching the race on screen. I won a prize in the raffle but sadly none of my horses were winners! Before the event I sold horses for one race to my family (owner of the winning horse won a prize) and we named this race Giving Voice Gallop!

For those of you that do not know, NETA won a Giving Voice award last year for local partnership of the year, so they brought their lovely award along to display (for more information about NETAs own celebration of this award, see July Bulletin page 9). I also made a quick speech on the night to remind people about Giving Voice and to inform anybody that hadn't already heard of it. We also put leaflets and pens on the tables and encouraged people to take these away and pass them on. New patron of NETA, Lord Shipley, attended on the night and made a short speech. An enjoyable night was had by all and we raised money for NETA in the process!

On the subject of NETA, my sister and brother-in-law are both running the Great North Run for them  this year and like the previous two years I will be on the sidelines sporting my Giving Voice t-shirt and handing out jelly babies to the runners. To find out about how this went last year click here. We bought our first box of jelly babies last week! To sponsor Joanne and Craig and help them support NETA you can visit their just giving page here

Thanks for reading, hopefully it won't be so long before I update this again!

Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives!


Friday, 26 April 2013

A song, a speech and some Ukulele's!

A few weeks ago, fellow speech and language therapist, Liz Panton, asked me if I would like to attend an open mic spot at Bar Loco, Newcastle to promote Giving Voice. I agreed to attend and prepared a short speech about the campaign. Liz planned to perform her Giving Voice song on her ukulele followed by a little talk from me. Liz also asked me to take my own ukulele along and the Left Hand Stairs Uke group also played the song.

I arrived feeling slightly nervous as I hadn’t been to Bar Loco previously and my uke hadn’t been out of its case in over a year! Once Liz arrived we started setting up as we were on first. Liz introduced us and sang the song and we played along on our uke’s with her. The audience looked quite interested and I was looking forward to sharing some information about the campaign. Once Liz finished the song I spoke for a minute or two about who I am and what Giving Voice is. I planned to say more than I did, but kept it a little shorter, due to a mixture of nerves and keeping the audience interested. I told them I had leaflets and pens if anyone wanted to find out more about Giving Voice.
Liz then told people how they could find out more on twitter (#GivingVoiceUK) and also explained that Newcastle students are participating in ‘No Voice week’ this week (@DVoiced) Find out more about what they have been up to by reading their brilliant blog here!

We then played the song again this time missing out words for the audience to join in. I think everyone enjoyed it and someone asked for some leaflets after the performance. I also left a few behind after I left so we managed to spread the message a little bit further.
I think Liz had a brilliant idea in performing at an event like this as it was something interesting for the audience as well as raising awareness in a different type of situation. Well done Liz!!

Here’s the videos from the night (thanks to the man with the iPad!) My speech is in part two, but the beginning of it is missing. Enjoy!

Liz and me after the performance :)

Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives

Friday, 12 April 2013

Giving Voice Harlem Shake...Newcastle

I’d like to welcome a guest blogger to my blog today. Poppy Welsh is a final year student at Newcastle University and in this blog she explains how she helped organize a brilliant Giving Voice Harlem Shake...
Hello, I’m Poppy, and in this blog I’d like to tell you how Sophie Herbert, my housemate and fellow SLT student,  and I, created the first Giving Voice Harlem Shake which has so far been viewed by over 3,700 people.
In February 2013 we had an inspirational talk from RCSLT about applying for jobs and encouraging us to participate in the Giving Voice campaign. We were inspired by the success students at other universities had experienced for the campaign - most of all Queen Margaret University  who have achieved an impressive 10,000+ views for their Call Me Maybe parody using AAC – and wanted to organise something ourselves!
The Newcastle students put our heads together and started to think about what we could do. At the same time, cyber space was being bombarded with videos of various renditions of the “Harlem Shake”; a somewhat mysterious song which, like many internet phenomena appeared to come out of nowhere! I thought this would be a perfect opportunity for Newcastle students to ‘Give Voice’.
With most Harlem Shakes only 30 seconds long it seemed perfect for a flashmob-type way of raising awareness of the campaign.
King George VI Building, Newcastle University
There was a great response from Newcastle students about this idea and we really wanted to get it done as soon as possible: mostly while the Harlem Shake was still on trend, but there was the additional factor of wanting to create a Giving Voice Harlem Shake before another university beat us to it! So we made a facebook event, booked a lecture theatre within the appropriately named King George VI building where Speech and Language Therapy is based, and encouraged SLT students to take part. We asked people to bring as many items of fancy dress items as possible (preferably pink, the Giving Voice colour), and also to make Giving Voice style speech bubbles with short SLT-related words or phrases which would show up on the video. We also informed all the staff in the department of what we were doing, and invited them along.
The day itself went really well; although Sophie and I carrying a Space Hopper and loads of posters/speech bubbles down a busy main road was interesting! Plenty of students turned up and many students had put a lot of effort into their fancy dress and speech bubbles. Some of the words included on the speech bubbles were “PECS”, “STROKE”, “NEONATAL”, “AAC” and many more.
The idea behind the Harlem Shake is pretty simple. The “original” dancer must be wearing some sort of mask (so as a keen scuba diver, I donned my wetsuit, fins, mask and snorkel!) and should dance completely alone and ignored for the first section of the video. During this time, the other students were sat at the desks reading books (including dysphagia, aphasia, and phonetics) and copies of the Bulletin. The filming was then stopped and all the other students got changed into their fancy dress. When filming restarted, everyone danced and waved their speech bubbles around. We had some great costumes, including a pirate, an 80s raver, and Sophie the space-hopping golfer! It took a couple of goes before we had the perfect video, but in the end we were all very pleased with the final result.
Luckily I have fairly good editing skills and Sophie and I had our video edited, captioned and published on YouTube less than two hours after filming.  We decided to keep the video as short a possible hoping it would have a greater impact when viewed, so referred people to if they wanted to find out more. But creating the video was the easy part; the biggest challenge was ensuring the video was seen by as many people as possible to raise awareness of the campaign.
 We shared the video in a number of different ways. All Newcastle SLT students (not just those who participated) were asked to share the video with their families, friends, colleagues, Clinical Educators (past and present), and as many other people they could think of.  We also shared the video on facebook and twitter including Newcastle University facebook groups; as well as SLT-related companies and charities who we are very grateful to for sharing the video. We then watched as the view count quickly grew from 0 to 1000 just a few hours after publishing, getting excited every time the view count hit another milestone!
We also informed RCSLT of our video and we were very proud when they chose to show it as part of the “What’s next for your campaign?” talk by Ele Buckley and Emma Barnes at the 2013 National Student Day: it wasn’t easy resisting dancing around in the lecture theatre as we had done in the video!
It was difficult not to feel competitive when other universities created Giving Voice Harlem Shake videos. But what was easy to remember was the whole point of the video: to raise awareness of Giving Voice. In total, all the Giving Voice Harlem Shakes have had almost 8,000 views (with Newcastle’s version accounting for over 40% of these!), and we’re proud that we have been able to have some sort of impact on the campaign. We hope that Newcastle University Speech and Language Sciences students continue to have and enjoy active involvement in the campaign.
Our advice for other students hoping to raise awareness in a similar way is don’t be shy, be imaginative, and make the most of social media to publicise what you have done. But most of all (as with every other aspect of Speech and Language Therapy!), teamwork is essential! We couldn’t have made the video, let alone reached 3,700+ views without the help of all the students who participated.

Hope you enjoyed reading, if you haven’t already, please watch and share our video!

Poppy Welsh (on behalf of all the Newcastle University SLT Harlem Shakers!)
Well done Newcastle (and all the other students who have created a Harlem Shake video to promote Giving Voice!)
Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives

Friday, 29 March 2013

No Voice Week

Some of the wonderful students at Newcastle University are organising a no voice week which coincides with the national campaign starting on the 22/04/2013. They are going to use Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) to communicate in various contexts where communication is required such as going out for a drink, going to a restaurant, answering questions in lectures.
If you want to find out more about the fantastic awareness raising opportunity check out their blog and follow them on twitter @DVoiced and Facebook
I think this is a brilliant opportunity to raise awareness of Giving Voice and AAC and it’s great that Newcastle students are getting involved. I know I am looking forward to reading their updates and hearing how they get on!
Hope you all have a wonderful Easter! Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Comic Relief Sex Change...

When I heard that Giving Voice Celebrity Ambassador of the Year (2012), Lost Voice Guy, was going to be dressing as Lost Voice Girl for Comic Relief I knew I had to go! I booked tickets online for my friend and I and was excited for my first trip to The Stand, Newcastle. We were both wearing pink jeans and our Giving Voice badges to support GV, and Lee on the night!
For those of you who don’t know, Lost Voice Guy is a stand up comedian who uses a communication aid for his voice, as he has cerebral palsy and is unable to speak. I’ve seen him a number of times and he always gets the audience laughing.  I was really looking forward to seeing him dress as a woman in aid of Comic Relief.
Every Sunday at The Stand is Gavin Webster’s Northumbrian Assembly, and Lost Voice Girl was part of this, along with another comedian. Gavin was really funny and kept the audience entertained from start to finish. He told us about the events of the night, including Bingo and a free meat draw. My friend, Rach, saw the tins of meat and in jest told me she’d like to win the hotdogs!
The whole night was great fun and Lost Voice Girl didn’t disappoint! I’d heard some of the jokes in previous sets but they always make me laugh and it was still a bit different as they were in the voice of a girl (which made a more convincing act, if the dress and wig weren’t enough to prove we were watching a girl on stage! J)
Rach and I had a really good night and she was even lucky enough to win the meat draw  (be careful what you wish for, it might come true! Haha) We carried Rach’s meat all the way back to Ashington/Newbiggin in the snow and on the metro and it made for an entertaining journey home! I would definitely return to The Stand as the atmosphere was good and the comedy funny (which is what you expect from a comedy club!)
Rach and her meat!
Lost Voice Girl raised a fantastic £350 for Comic Relief, check out the blog/watch the video from the night here.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

NETA Giving Voice Awards Celebration

As you are probably aware, myself and NETA (North East Trust for Aphasia) were unable to make it to the Giving Voice awards ceremony back in November due to cancelled trains. L Still wanting to celebrate our success, we decided to hold our very own Giving Voice awards in Newcastle.
We began planning this event at the beginning of the year and it was held at Newcastle University last Thursday, 7th March. Some of the members of the North East Trust for Aphasia have been attending a choir at The Sage, Gateshead and the Giving Voice celebration was an opportunity for them to perform together for an audience.
Due to popular demand for tickets to attend this celebration event, the programme was run across two rooms (as one room wasn’t big enough!) to ensure everyone who wanted to could attend. The programme of events included an introduction from Janet Speight (chair of NETA), a live performance from the NETA choir, live flute playing, a talk from me about Giving Voice and some videos showing what NETA does. Following the exciting programme, tea, coffee and cake were served across both rooms with opportunity for everyone to mingle and have a chat.
The choir were brilliant and the whole afternoon was wonderful. I got a little nervous before I arrived, knowing that I needed to make my (10 minute) speech twice, but once there, my nerves began to turn to excitement.
Both times my speech followed the welcome speech from Janet Speight and it was my absolute pleasure to talk about Giving Voice and why I nominated NETA for their well deserved award. Talking in front of an audience always make me more aware of my own communication, and I am always reminded that it is something I frequently take for granted. Being surrounded by people who have aphasia, yet still communicate to the best of their ability was truly inspirational. Janet talked about how her Speech and Language Therapist helped her to find her voice again after her stroke, and acknowledged that this is a similar story for many of the NETA members. The whole afternoon made me so proud of the SLT profession and there were a couple of occasions I found myself with teary eyes, as I was so honoured to be part of such a wonderful celebration.
Following my talk about Giving Voice (which seemed to go down quite well with both audiences), we moved onto the presentation of awards. I was absolutely delighted that NETA asked me to present them with their Giving Voice award. I presented the award to Janet on behalf of NETA, and made a little speech about how delighted I am that they won, and how deserved the award is. Janet then made an acceptance speech, in which she said she looks forward to working with Giving Voice again in the future. Dr Rose Hilton then presented my award and made a very kind speech about me, which left me speechless (something which rarely happens to me!)  I then thanked NETA for allowing me the great privilege of presenting their award and allowing me to be part of their celebration.

Janet Speight and I with our awards, Howden Room, Newcastle University
Thursday afternoon was truly inspirational and it was wonderful seeing so many NETA members and their families and friends able to attend the event. It was also lovely to have my parents, my older sister and my boyfriend there to celebrate with me.
I nominated NETA for the Giving Voice award as they have been actively involved in the campaign and they are a brilliant example of how valuable speech and language therapy is to people living with aphasia. I look forward to Giving Voice with them again in the future. Check out their website for more information
Well done to everyone who organised this event and thank you to everyone who attended and supported it! Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives!

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Scary yet exciting!

On Wednesday afternoon  I received a phone call from the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists asking if I would be able to/would like to go on BBC Radio Newcastle the following morning as they had asked for an SLT to talk about what we do (as the OT and SLT services in County Durham and Darlington are going out to tender).
I was excited and nervous about the idea of talking on live radio but I always welcome new experiences to talk about speech and language therapy. The main disadvantage was having to be in Newcastle for 6.45am and thus out of my lovely warm bed at 5.30am (a time of day I never usually see!)
RCSLT were extremely supportive over the phone on Wednesday and I felt equipped to go on air and talk about how Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives.
On Wednesday evening I received a phone call from the radio station to have a chat about what would be talked about on the show and where I needed to go etc. The lady also recorded a short interview to use in the news bulletin before my interview (which I heard in the car on the way to the studio yesterday morning!)
I left the house early, with very little voice (having had a cold all week) and kept my fingers crossed it would return by the time I was live on air. Upon arrival I signed in, got my visitors pass and was taken along to the studio where I waited to be called in. I was excited and nervous but everyone was really friendly and I was chatting to another guest speaker who was going to be on about something else, after me. I drank lots of water to keep my throat hydrated and tried not to talk too much before going live.

When I went into the studio, I sat down and was handed headphones and told how close I needed to be to the microphone. I was a bit nervous once I was in the room and tried to concentrate on talking to the presenter (Charlie) rather than think about the fact I was on live radio. I feel the interview went well, but as always with hindsight, there was a lot more specific things I could have said and I have a bruise on my leg now from where I kicked myself after the interview(!!)... Concentrating on the position of my mouth from the mic, balancing my headphones, controlling my speed of talking (something which is usually MUCH too fast!), trying not to concentrate on my tickly throat AND thinking about what I wanted to say and the best way to say it proved to be quite a challenge!
As always when I am put in a different communicative situation I realise just how much I take my own communication for granted every single day. Being on the radio was an exciting experience and certainly something I would do again but I don’t think being a radio presenter will ever be a second job for me (the professionals make it sound so easy!)
Before I left I gave Alfie and Charlie each a Giving Voice pen and they said I’d be welcome back again (so hopefully there might be opportunity for this in the future)!
All in all an interesting experience, listen here from 1 hour 7 minutes if you want to hear the interview (please forgive my hoarse voice!)

Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives!