Giving Voice

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

International Women's Day

Being in a profession consisting of more women than men, I felt inspired to write a post on International Women’s Day. I don’t know why it is that there are more women than men train for Speech and Language Therapy but it’s definitely a profession with more females! (But I do know some brilliant male SLTs too!)
I work, and have worked with, many inspirational Speech and Language Therapists who are dedicated to making a difference to the lives of the people they work with. Whether it’s helping children to say their first words, use their speech sounds correctly or to make more sense of the world around them… and that’s just the children we’ve seen before lunch!
There are so many women who have inspired me throughout my entire life, before and during my career as a Speech and Language Therapist - and men too but today is International Women’s day so we don’t need to talk about the men today! ;)  
 
I love quotes and I have many favourites. My love of quotes also reminds me how important language is to be able to understand others and express ourselves and to find our place in the world. I feel so privileged to be part of a profession that offers support and intervention to people struggling to develop effective communication skills (or regain these skills if they’ve been lost).
I thought I’d share some of my favourite quotes (so hard to choose only a few!)
-          If you think you are too small to make an impact, try sleeping with a mosquito in the room – Dame Anita Roddick (I love this one and use it whenever I am talking to people about campaigning)
-          The question isn’t who’s going to let me. It’s who’s going to stop me – Ayn Rand
-          No one can make you feel inferior without your consent – Eleanor Roosevelt
-          If you don’t like something change it, if you can’t change it, change your attitude – Maya Angelou
-          Anything is possible if you’ve got enough nerve – J.K.Rowling
Some of the most inspirational women in my life are those the closest to me. My mam, my sister and my grandma have all played a huge role in my life. My grandma always used to say ‘You’ve got to laugh or else you’ll cry’ and this gets me through many situations (sometimes daily!) I know I am a better person because she was in my life. All of my family (and friends) are so supportive of me and everything I do and I feel so blessed each and every day.
My sister Joanne, mam and grandma with a cool little Julie!
 
Thanks for reading. Be proud of who you are <3
Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives!
 

Monday, 7 March 2016

Laughter with a Lord

Thanks to everyone who has read, shared and re-tweeted my blog in the last 24 hours! It's been great to see that a number of the MPs who were at Voice Box last week have retweeted it. Gary Northfield, one of the judges (and children's author and illustrator) also retweeted it to his followers.
 
Today I got some official photos from RCSLT and I thought it would be nice to share some of them here as an additional post.
 
Tomorrow morning, Chris Dyson Head Teacher and TJ are going to be on BBC Radio Leeds between 8.15 and 8.30am and on BBC Look North after 6pm. I look forward to listening and watching!
Richard Burgon, Leeds East MP, Chris Dyson and TJ
Photo Credit: Geoff Wilson
 

Richard Burgon, MP with Abigail from Seacroft Grange
Photo credit: Geoff Wilson
 
TJ telling his winning joke (complete with potato prop!) with Nick Smith, MP
Photo Credit: Geoff Wilson




 Gary Northfield and TJ with his certificate
Photo Credit: Geoff Wilson


Kamini Gadhok, CEO of RCSLT with Lord Quirk
Photo Credit: Geoff Wilson


 
Lord Quirk pictured above was President of RCSLT between 1987 and 1991. In addition to this, in the late 1960s/early 1970s he chaired a committee of enquiry into speech therapy services (which fundamentally changed the profession!)
 
I have enjoyed being involved in Voice Box so much. I think it is a fantastic idea and I know that all the children have enjoyed it too. I look forward to getting involved again next time round. It's a great way to promote the communication skills and confidence of young people in a fun way.
 
Speech and Language Therapy Transforms Lives. To read more about the Voice Box final in London last week see here. Thanks for reading and thank you to RCSLT for providing the photos I've shared in this blog post! I'm sure you'll agree they are fantastic! :)

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Raising the Roof at Speaker's House

I travelled to London for the Voice Box final on Wednesday. I arrived a little early at Portcullis House so had a little walk along the Thames to take a few photos. Anyone that knows me knows I can never have too many photos of Big Ben or the London Eye! After brief sightseeing I joined the queue to get into Portcullis House. Once through security I was greeted with a buzz of enthusiasm and excitement from all the children waiting to go to Speaker’s House for the competition (and indeed the adults in the room too!)


 

Portcullis House, London

Voice Box was organised by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) and The Communication Trust. I had the pleasure of meeting the Director of The Communication Trust (Octavia Holland)on our way from Portcullis House to Speaker's House.

I was particularly excited that two of the Leeds schools had made it to the national final and chatted with both finalists while we were waiting. Both children from Leeds were particularly excited for their first trip to London and couldn’t wait to tell their jokes! My niece took Voice Box to her school last term too and the winner from there also attended so I introduced myself to him and his guests too :)                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
 
The event was officially hosted by Mr Speaker, John Bercow MP and it was held in Speaker’s House. It was an honour to be invited and have lunch with all the competitors and their families/teachers/SLTs before listening to all the jokes.
Richard Burgon MP for Leeds East attended for part of the event and was able to chat with both the Leeds children before they told their jokes. I was really pleased that he was able to attend and it was brilliant that he was able to see it through to the end after having been the judge at both of our Leeds events.  You can read more about the Parklands Voice Box and the Leeds final here.
 
After lunch we took to our seats for the competition to begin. Nick Smith, MP for Blaenau Gwent was the Master of Ceremonies. Nick was RCSLT’s Director of Policy and Partnerships between 2006 and 2010. He kept the event running smoothly including a few jokes of his own. I had the pleasure of meeting Nick at the 2011 Giving Voice awards but unfortunately didn’t get the opportunity to speak to him on Wednesday.
Nick Smith MP, me and Sharon Hodgson MP at the Giving Voice Awards 2011
Eleven other MPs attended and some of them got up and told jokes alongside their constituent competitors! They did get laughter from the audience but I must say the children were definitely funnier than the MPs ;)
There were a range of jokes, some complete with props, and each and every one of the children had the room erupting with laughter. Some children used iPads to tell their jokes and all of the children were full of character - I definitely think there are some comedians in the making!
Ian Lavery, MP for Wansbeck attended part of the event and it was great to catch up with him again. I also chatted with him to get a quote for a press release for RCSLT to send out to local media. Ian took the time to talk to the child from his constituency and posed for a photo with him.  It’s always lovely to catch up with Mr Lavery. I’m so pleased that over the 4 years since I first met him to tell him about Giving Voice that he has been a continued supporter of Speech and Language Therapy and has attended so many events to show his support.

Ian Lavery, MP with me in Speaker's House
Lord Quirk also attended - he was President of RCSLT between 1987 and 1991. In addition, in the late 1960s/early 1970s he chaired a committee of enquiry into speech therapy services (which fundamentally changed the profession!)
The event was brilliant and the children were all fantastic though I have to say the Parklands potato joke (complete with props!) remained my favourite (and I’m not at all biased! ;)
We broke off for a cup of tea and some cake while the judges were deciding the winner. I saw that South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck was talking to her constituent child (the child from my niece’s school) so I went and joined them for a chat. I told her that my niece took Voice Box to her school and that I’m a Speech and Language Therapist working in Leeds. It was lovely to chat to her and to hear how passionate she is about South Shields. (My home away from home!)

It was also lovely to have the chance to catch up with Andrea Robinson, who is also a member of the Giving Voice Innovation (GIG) group. She was also supporting a child in the final :)

Me with Andrea Robinson, SLT
Once we’d had our fill of tea and cake we went back in to find out the all-important results. The judging panel comprised of Octavia Holland (Director of The Communication Trust), Gary Northfield (children’s comic author) and last time’s Voice Box winner Jack. Before announcing the winner Gary showed the children how to draw Julius Zebra (from his book of the same title) and he presented all of the children with a framed certificate and goody bag. Once all the prizes were given we found out the 2 runners up and the winner…
And I am delighted to announce that the winner was (insert enthusiastic drum roll here…)
TJ from Parklands Primary School!
He was fantastic and the title was thoroughly deserved. He also looked the part in the 3 piece suit the head teacher (Chris Dyson) bought him for the occasion! The winner from Seacroft Grange also did really well and I am proud to have been part of their journey to London. All of the children were inspirational and it was clear how much they all enjoyed the day.

Richard Burgon, MP for Leeds East, Chris Dyson Head Teacher and TJ - winner of Voice Box!
Richard tweeted about the event and shared this photo on Facebook and Twitter

After the competition we went on a tour of the Palace of Westminster and it was lovely to hear about the history of the building and to have a look around part of it. Unfortunately the House of Commons and the House of Lords were in sitting so we were unable to view the chambers.

Palace of Westminster

On Thursday my niece won cadet of the year at South Shields Girls Venture Air Corps and I tweeted Emma Lewell-Buck to say it was lovely to meet her on Wednesday, reminded her that Toni had took Voice Box to school last term and had just won Cadet of Year. She tweeted back on Friday and when I told Toni that her MP had tweeted to say well done she was over the moon.
RCSLT had their official photographer there on Wednesday and once I have access to these photos I’ll share some of them on here too.
Thanks so much for reading and well done again to everyone who was involved in such a brilliant event, we all made memories that we’ll treasure forever. I am looking forward to getting involved again next time round!