Giving Voice

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Giving Voice Local Heroes Make National Champions

As I mentioned in my previous post RCSLT invited me to be a guest speaker at a webinar (online seminar) event in London last week and I was honoured and delighted to attend. The webinar GivingVoice: local heroes make national champions: engaging with MPs, aimed to share information about what RCSLT has done and is doing to influence parliamentarians and to share best practice examples of local influencing.

 I set my alarm early on Friday morning ready for my train to London! I'd packed my Giving Voice bag with goodies the night before!
While at the train station I got talking to a homeless man and I bought him a hot drink as he was so cold. He was so grateful and was glad that I stopped to have a chat. Conversation is free and I am always happy to talk to people; it was nice to put a smile on someone’s face so early on a Friday morning when everyone was just rushing past. It’s sometimes the simple things that mean the most, and I felt this was the start of a positive day. After our chat I headed to get my train, enthusiastic about the day ahead.

I wore my Giving Voice badge on my bag, ready to engage any unsuspecting fellow train travellers in a conversation about Speech and Language Therapy, but I was sat on my own so I just read my notes and rehearsed my speech in my head instead!

I have spoken at a number of events about Speech and Language over recent years but this was my first experience of speaking at a webinar. Not sure what to expect, I arrived slightly apprehensive but the staff at RCSLT quickly put me at ease as they talked through the running order of the day and explained how the equipment worked. The practice run through of the webinar was useful to listen to the other speakers before we went live. This was also helpful to get to know the equipment and get used to wearing the headset and mic.

We had a working lunch and it was nice to chat more to the other speakers. We also had time for a quick photo with Kamini Gadhok, CEO of RCSLT.
The Webinar speakers with Kamini Gadhok
The webinar was live online at 1pm and RCSLT members began logging on 10 minutes before, ready to engage in the session. Derek Munn, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at RCSLT chaired the meeting and welcomed everyone to the event.  Peter Just, Public Affairs advisor at RCSLT was the first speaker and explained the importance of engaging with MPs and what RCSLT have been doing and plan to do to continue keeping Speech and Language Therapy on the agenda.

I was the next speaker and I shared my experiences of engaging with my MP (Ian Lavery) from the first meeting in constituency to meeting him in London during a Mass Mobilisation event and inviting him to local events I organised in constituency.

Rachel Clare, student SLT at UCL shared her experience of her involvement in ‘The Great Letter Writing Challenge’ where students from the Giving Voice society wrote to MPs in the lead up to the general election about the RCSLT manifesto asks.

Janet Cooper, SLT manger, told us how Stoke Speaks Out engaged with local MPs to help shape the local decision making and successfully prepare for the future. It was interesting to listen to Janet's experience and how influencing can really have such a positive impact!

I enjoyed taking part in the webinar, meeting the other speakers and hearing about their experiences too. It has reignited my passion for raising awareness of the profession and I hope to continue spreading awareness of the valuable work of SLTs in Leeds also. I am hoping we can get schools involved in national joke telling competition ‘Voice Box’ in the autumn term, which is organised by RCSLT and The Communication Trust. I look forward to sharing future involvement here on my blog.

After the webinar I had a little bit of time before my train so I went for a walk along London Bridge and had an ice cream in the sunshine! I always enjoy visiting London and even managed a quick cuppa with my cousin Kirsty who lives in London, before catching the train back to Leeds.
Tower Bridge
The RCSLT webinar is available to view online here if you are interested in finding out more.  I hope it inspires you to get involved in local influencing! Don’t forget to ask RCSLT for any support you need, or to share your experiences with them.

Thanks for reading! Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Happy Birthday!

We are more than half way through the year! I do not know where the time is going! I am still working hard in Leeds and thoroughly enjoying my job.

A few weeks ago a friend (and fellow Speech and Language Therapist), Charlotte and I went to Holy Trinity Church to celebrate the Giving Voice choir’s 1st birthday. Giving Voice is an inclusive choir for adults with neurological conditions and their carers. It was launched in June 2014 and was formed by Speech and Language Therapist, Wendy Neill. I really enjoyed their Christmas performance and was looking forward to seeing and hearing them perform again to celebrate their first birthday.

The evening began with an introduction from Wendy Neill and then the choir began with a lovely performance of ‘We like to sing’. Guests were provided with a song book so we could join in with the songs too. It was clear that everyone was enjoying themselves and it was lovely to be there to celebrate their first birthday.

Wendy thanked a number of people at the end of the first half of performances before the interval. Following this Thea Stein, Chief Executive of Leeds Community Healthcare, then thanked Wendy for her hard work and dedication to the choir.

No birthday party is complete without a buffet, drinks and birthday presents. During the break there were refreshments and an opportunity to buy raffle tickets for the chance to win one of the beautifully wrapped birthday gifts.
The choir then sang another selection of songs before the raffle was drawn and we all sang happy birthday! Sadly, I didn’t win a birthday present, but I did have a lovely evening listening to the choir sing in the church. We signed the visitors book and had some birthday cake before we left. If you are in Leeds and haven’t seen the Giving Voice choir perform, it’s definitely a nice evening’s entertainment and I will look out for future performances.

Speaking of birthdays it’s 4 years this month since I started this blog and this post is my 100th post. In July 2011 when I decided to start this blog I didn’t think I would write so much! I am so pleased that people have been interested, and read it and can’t believe it has had over 27,000 page views! Hopefully the second half of the year will bring more opportunities to blog and spread awareness of Speech and Language Therapy!

In other news, I am looking forward to travelling to London on Friday to speak at a webinar at RCSLT headquarters. I’m going to talk about my involvement in engaging MP Ian Lavery. For further information about the event visit RCSLTs website here: Giving Voice – local heroes make national champions: engaging with MPs

I hope it is useful to a lot of RCSLT members and I look forward to updating you after the event!