Giving Voice

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Voice Box (ad)Venture...Join in the Jokes!

Already a few weeks into a new term, I don’t know where the time is going! The nights are getting longer, leaves are changing colour and everyone is beginning to talk about Christmas parties…where did the summer go?

I love Autumn, it’s one of my favourite times of year. I love the crisp air and the pretty colours though I’m not so keen on the shorter days and the colder weather.

The autumn term is one of the longest so it’s nice to have something to look forward to. As part of my NHS role I am based in a primary school most of my week and we have decided to take part in the national Voice Box competition.
The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists have teamed up with The Communication Trust to run this year’s Voice Box competition. It encourages schools to hold a joke-telling competition and submit the winning joke to RCSLT with 10 pupils being shortlisted and invited to the final which is to be held at Westminster!
I am extremely excited to be involved in this, encouraging children to create jokes and enjoy the fun side of communication! We are holding Voice Box in school and are going to invite the local MP to be on the judging panel. We have also set a date to host a Leeds wide final at school too!
We plan to use some time on No Pens Day for the children to think of jokes. I am talking at the school assembly tomorrow to introduce them to Voice Box and No Pens Day. I am looking forward to this new experience and inspiring the children to explore their funny side!
If you work in a school or know someone who does why not suggest Voice Box to them? It’s a great way to enjoy the fun aspects of communication, building confidence and self-esteem. Further details can be found here and there are lots of resources to help you plan the event.

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!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Paloma gives me Faith

I have no idea how it’s April and this is the first Giving Voice blog post I’ve written this year! Time flies past so quickly! I am still working hard and loving working as a Speech and Language Therapist.

As I am sure you are all aware, the general election is rapidly approaching (if you are not aware of this, where have you been hiding!). This is a very important time for the country and a perfect time to raise awareness of Speech and Language Therapy with local candidates to ensure that it remains on the political agenda.

RCSLT are asking members to write to local candidates to ensure that newly elected MPs are aware of the importance of SLT. You can find out more about this on the RCSLT Giving Voice website here

RCSLT are calling on the political parties ‘to support early identification of speech, language and communication needs’, and ‘ensure equal access to Speech and Language Therapy support’. It will only take a few minutes out of your day to help contribute to this important campaign. I have previously developed good working foundations with the current MP for Wansbeck (Ian Lavery) and it really is not as scary as you might think!

We all have a voice, and more importantly we all have a right to make our voices heard. Last month I saw Paloma Faith, live in Newcastle, and I was really pleased that she used her tour as an opportunity to remind everyone of the importance of using your vote as people have fought for this right for us in the past. I couldn’t agree more and I think it’s really good that she used the opportunity of an arena full of people to remind people that we can use our voice by voting (without taking anything away from the concert). So don’t forget to vote on 7th May, and write to local candidates in the mean time!
Thanks for reading!


Sunday, 28 December 2014

Another year over...

Another year is almost over! How did that happen?!

A lot can happen in a year! I for one didn’t see myself moving to another city for a job, but I am so glad I did as I absolutely love the job I am doing at the moment!
I have not blogged even half as much as I would have liked this year (mainly due to Great North Run training and blogging) but I have tried to keep it updated when I can.
Earlier this month I saw that the Leeds Giving Voice choir were doing a Christmas performance. This choir is inclusive for adults with neurological conditions and their carers. It was launched in June 2014 by Speech and Language Therapist, Wendy Neill. The choir is the 2014 winner of the Leeds Community Healthcare Innovation Award.

When I heard that they would be performing some Christmas songs, I decided I would like to go along and support them. I attended with two other Speech and Language Therapists, and we had a lovely evening. The choir began in Trinity shopping centre and we were given song books so we could join in. After about half an hour of festive songs we all moved from the shopping centre into Holy Trinity Church where mince pies and mulled wine were served before more festive songs. It was a lovely evening which made us all feel Christmassy and it was clear to see how much the choir enjoyed their performance.

It’s been a busy year for me, and the highlight of my campaigning this year was the charity night I arranged at Ashington Football Club starring Lost Voice Guy and hosted by Steffen Peddie. I was delighted to hear that Lost Voice Guy won the BBC New Comedy Award a few weeks ago – thoroughly deserved!

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas and wishing you all a Happy New Year. I am looking forward to my continued (and hopefully more active) role in campaigning for Giving Voice 2015 particularly in the lead up to the general election, both individually and with the Giving Voice Innovation Group.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Time flies! (and so did I!)

I can’t believe so much time has passed since I last updated this blog! My Great North Run blog (and indeed training for the Great North Run!) took over my life the last few months and I just haven’t had the time to sit down and write. In addition to the running, I also relocated from Northumberland to Leeds for a Speech and Language Therapy position at the end of September,  so to say life has been a little hectic the last few months, is an understatement! (If you are interested in reading about my journey to the GNR raising funds for the North East Trust for Aphasia you can read about it here –

Just because I haven’t been blogging doesn’t mean I have forgotten about Giving Voice. I am absolutely loving my new job (working in a mainstream primary school) and take every available opportunity to tell anyone who will listen about what I do!

I even jumped off the Tyne Bridge last month and travelled by zipslide to the Gateshead side of the Tyne! I was of course in Giving Voice colours and was wearing a Giving Voice badge. The man that checked my harnesses before I jumped asked me about it and I took pride in telling him about Speech and Language Therapy and how we transform lives. This was a very welcome distraction to take my mind off the fact I was about to jump off the bridge! I was absolutely terrified until I was ‘flying’ through the air, by which point I actually quite enjoyed it and wondered why is has taken me a quarter of a century before deciding to try something so daring!

I tweeted @ZipslidesUK after the event and used relevant Speech and Language Therapy hashtags including #givingvoiceuk and they retweeted it J

In September I attended the RCSLT Mind the Gap Conference which was an enjoyable and educational two days. It was lovely to meet so many passionate SLTs and I managed to catch up with some of the other Giving Voice Innovation Group members. I was also recorded for the higher education roadshows, talking about my experiences since I graduated and my involvement in Giving Voice. I hope it inspires some more students to get involved in campaigning for the profession.
Over the summer I was working in an admin job and felt a little detached from Speech and Language Therapy, and apart from applying for lots of SLT jobs and running for the North East Trust for Aphasia I wasn’t really doing much related to Speech and Language or Giving Voice and I really missed it. I am so pleased to be working as a therapist again. To any students/new graduates reading this don’t ever give up on finding the job of you deserve (and use other opportunities to gain other skills).  I feel so lucky to be excited about going to work every day and knowing that I am making a difference to the lives of the children I work with.

I am also lucky to be part of a lovely team and have already met some brilliant therapists in the short time I have been there. I had a spare copy of the 2014 Giving Voice calendar which I gave to my new team. This is now proudly displayed in the clinic office and has enabled me to have some Giving Voice conversations with the other Speech and Language Therapists. The adult team in the service where I work have just won an award for the Giving Voice Choir they set up.

October 18th marked 3 years since Mass Mobilisation in London where SLTs descended on the Houses of Parliament to tell MPs the importance of SLT. I can't believe how the time has flown! This is still up there with one of the most exciting experiences of my life to date, and I tweeted my MP Ian Lavery to thank him once again for his support, to mark the anniversary of this day. I am looking forward to getting involved in the campaigning around the lead up to the general election 2015, and hope lots of other SLTs do too.

I promise not to leave it so long before I write again!
Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives

Thursday, 31 July 2014

A time to reflect

It's three years this month since I started this Giving Voice blog to raise awareness of the profession.  I have really enjoyed my time being involved in Giving Voice and I love my role in the Giving Voice Innovation Group.

I've met lots of lovely people throughout my campaigning and I look forward to meeting and engaging even more in the future.

As Giving Voice enters it's 4th year, RCSLT are looking for people to share their opinions about the campaign - what's gone well and where it is going.

The survey is here and is really easy to fill out. It would be great if you could spare just a few minutes of your time to fill it in. Whether you have been involved in a one off Giving Voice event, been actively involved, or just haven't quite found the time to get involved yet, all opinions are greatly valued! Survey closes on Monday 4th August 2014.

Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives