Giving Voice

Monday, 27 November 2017

Little Stars

It’s that time of year again! What better way to warm up during the autumn term than an annual joke competition. After the success of last year’s Voice Box we decided to get the laughter started and take part again. Each campus held their own Voice Box competition over the last few weeks through class and whole school assemblies; and we held the intercampus final on Friday.
We chose to host this year’s competition at the campus which gave us last year’s national finalist, Jesse, and it was a lovely afternoon. The audience was made up of parents, staff, KS2 and our judging panel (our Primary Governor, Ian Lavery, MP and our Director of Data).
We heard jokes from 3 children of each campus. The runners up from each told us their jokes first; then we heard from each of our 5 winners. While the judges were deciding on the winning joke we were delighted to welcome back Jesse who told us the joke that got him to the national final last year. Jesse started secondary school in September so it was lovely to welcome him back to his primary school.  Everyone was excited to see him and he told us his joke and talked about his experience of the final in London (read about it here).
Ian Lavery gave out the certificates and medals to all of the runners up before moving on to announcing the winner. It was a tough competition and I’m glad it wasn’t me making the decision! The winner from each campus received a trophy, medal and certificate, with the overall winner receiving an extra special trophy.

It was a lovely afternoon and I am really proud of all the children who took part. I’ve received lots of positive feedback from staff about the increase in the children’s confidence and how much they enjoyed it. Some of the parents also commented about how proud they were seeing their children telling jokes in front of a large audience.
I feel privileged to have been able to take part in this again; our winning joke has been submitted to RCSLT and we look forward to hearing whether she has been shortlisted to the national final.
Whatever the outcome, all of the children are winners to us.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Maximum Impact

Happy No Pens Day!
Maximum impact is something that we all want for our clients as we want to make a difference to the lives of the people we work with, while ensuring what we do is good value for money. The theme of the RCSLT Conference this year was pertinent as it was Maximising Impact. It was a packed two days, which was brilliantly organised, informative and inspirational.
Morag Dorwood, Chair of Council, welcome us to the conference in Glasgow (and to Scotland). The opening keynote speakers really set the scene for what was a highly motivating two days. A leading Allied Health Professions Officer from each country in the UK discussed important issues around workforce, leadership, early intervention and prevention. Kamini Gadhok, Chief Exec of RCSLT led the discussion while they encouraged us to think about our personal and professional impact. They inspired us to be courageous and to develop skills around demonstrating impact.
Morag Dorwood opening the two day conference
Following the keynote speeches the buzz of enthusiasm and motivation could actually be felt in the air, and we moved on to a refreshment break where there was time to look at many exciting posters, exhibits and network with other SLTs.
After the break the first parallel sessions took place; so many interesting topics but only time to attend one! I chose the session around creating and using evidence which was thought provoking and informative.
Following this session the Rt Hon John Bercow, Speaker of the House, spoke of his joy and privilege to have been asked to attend the conference. It was a pleasure to listen to him talk so passionately about our profession and to hear him say that the most stimulating and rewarding part of his work as an MP was the review of SLCN (Bercow Review); wonderful to hear a decade on! He also talked about Voice Box (which is hosted at Speaker’s House) and I was delighted that he mentioned Jesse (one of this year’s finalists and a child from the schools I work in) and how Voice Box made him more popular.
The AGM followed John Bercow’s speech and it was lovely to see the photo of the Voice Box finalists (including Jesse!) on screen during the RCSLT impact report (detailed in the September Bulletin for those who’ve not yet seen it). 
The afternoon was another exciting parallel session (this time I chose Child Speech); followed by a keynote from Professor Courtney Norbury. HRH Countess of Wessex also joined us to hear Professor Norbury talk about Developmental Language Disorder. This session was highly motivating as we thought about where we add value, intervention goals and how we can measure impact. It was also interesting to hear more about the change in terminology from Specific Language Impairment to Developmental Language Disorder (DLD).
Morag Dorwood closed the day and also told us that our RCSLT2017 hashtag had been trending on twitter, which was greeted with a cheer from us all.
It was lovely to see a number of Speech and Language Therapists who I haven't seen for a while (including Andrea Robinson and Gill Rudd who I met through the Giving Voice Innovation Group, and Dr Helen Stringer and Professor James Law who were both lecturers during my time at Uni.) It was also nice to meet lots of new SLTs too!
On Wednesday night I attended the social event where the Honours and Giving Voice awards took place. It was lovely to hear about the deserving winners of all the awards and to see HRH Countess of Wessex (Patron of RCSLT) give out the awards. She also talked passionately about the profession and the valuable work we do. 

HRH Countess of Wessex speaking at the Honours Ceremony
Thursday was another informative and interesting day filled with more inspirational speakers. The key note address was from Professor Linda Worrall who is the Director of the Centre for Clinical Research Excellence in Aphasia Rehabilitation. She encouraged us to think bigger, collaborate with everyone and to always keep the end goal in mind. She challenged us to write a letter to our future selves ( as a gentle reminder to ourselves of something we want to work on or achieve. This is definitely something I plan to do – both on a work and personal level. I like the idea of receiving an email from myself at some point in the future (by a specified date), reminding me of some of the goals I am working and keeping on.
Further parallel sessions took place throughout the day and I’d chosen another good two sessions (this time learning more about Service Delivery, and Developmental Language Disorder). The day closed following another keynote address, this time from 2 service users (Euan MacDonald and Fiona Petrie). This was a highly moving and inspirational session and following both speeches, the whole auditorium gave a thoroughly deserved standing ovation. The main messages from this session were that we should always take into account the views of service users and to never stop fighting for them. This was a moving end to an information packed two days and was good to draw everything together in terms of why Maximising Impact really does matter.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Laughter in London

As the clocks move forward and Spring is in the air, I welcome you to my first post of 2017. Last week was a particularly exciting week for a pupil in one of the schools I work in. Jesse was invited to London as one of the finalists for Voice Box. He was delighted to be able to attend with his Mum and older sister to tell his joke in Speaker’s House at the Houses of Parliament.

Houses of Parliament before we went inside
Upon arrival at Portcullis House we passed through security and were greeted by a buzz of enthusiasm and excitement in the room. I’d tweeted a photo of Jesse travelling to London on the train, which had subsequently been re-tweeted by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT). Not long after we arrived a number of members of RCSLT staff came to say hello and told him they recognised him from Twitter, which really made his day.

At 12.30pm we were all greeted and shown to Speaker’s House, which involved a walk under the road and up a rather grand flight of stairs. At the top of the stairs we were given a name badge and informed that lunch was served. This allowed a nice opportunity to enjoy the surroundings and mingle with the other guests.

It was clear to see how excited everyone was though I’m sure there were lots of nervous butterflies fluttering around in tummies too. During lunch, there was a magician providing entertainment for the guests and was particularly popular with the children.

After lunch, we were called through to the main room ready for the children to tell their jokes. Nick Smith, MP for Blaenau Gwent, was Master of Ceremonies and he did a great job of keeping the day moving along. He welcomed each of the judging panel and it was lovely to see last year’s winner TJ was back to help choose the winning joke. Read more here about when he won last year. TJ told us his joke at the beginning of the day and then each of the other judges told a joke too.

All of the children were brilliant with a very high standard of jokes (the judges had a tough decision to make!) There were a range of jokes from children from around the country and it was great to see some MPs get up there with their constituents to tell a joke of their own.  

Once all the children had told their jokes we had a refreshment break while the judges made the important decision about the winner and runners-up jokes! We had the opportunity to chat with Ian Lavery, MP who came along to support Jesse.

Jesse and Ian Lavery, MP for Wansbeck
Photo Credit: Geoff Wilson

All of the children were presented with a goody bag and framed certificate and Kamini Gadhok, CEO of RCSLT congratulated everyone on reaching the final. Once all of the children received their goody bags the runners up and winner were announced.  It was a brilliant day and a fantastic opportunity for the children! To read Sam’s winning joke visit RCSLT’s Giving Voice website here.

On Friday morning, I received a telephone call from RCSLT informing me that BBC Radio Newcastle wanted to interview Jesse about his experience at Voice Box. Jesse was extremely excited about this opportunity and I went to his school on Friday afternoon so that the interview could be recorded via telephone. We both chatted to the presenter Jon and the interview went out on the Drive Time show on Friday evening. If you’d like to listen to the interview you can find it here (from 54:09) – it’s only available until Friday (07/04/17).

It’s been great to see lots of activity on Twitter, including tweets from RCSLT, BBC Radio Newcastle and Ian Lavery, MP.  More photos from the day can be found on the RCSLT Instagram and Twitter.

It was a brilliant day in London and it was lovely to hear Jesse say that the competition has led to him making more friends. We all thoroughly enjoyed the competition back in the Autumn term (read about it here) and Jesse getting to the final is fantastic.

I received lots of positive feedback about how much the children and teachers enjoyed Voice Box and we are all looking forward to taking part again. It’s a brilliant opportunity to celebrate language and how fun it can be!

Jesse's Mum, me, Jesse and his sister at Speaker's House
Photo Credit: Geoff Wilson