UCL Giving Voice Challenge!

We are very excited to announce that a group of UCL Speech and Language Therapy students will be taking part in a Speech and Language Therapy Challenge, during the week of the 23rd June.

We are campaigning to raise awareness of the importance of Speech and Language Therapists, as part of the National campaign Giving Voice:

We will be completing various challenges, including eating pureed food, drinking thickened fluids, communicating using AAC and voluntary stammering for the week to raise awareness of the different kinds of difficulties that SLT clients face on a daily basis, and also to raise money for the Stroke Association, a charity which provides support to stroke survivors, families and carers, as well as funding research into the prevention and treatment of stroke.

We have created a JustGiving page, where you can sponsor us on our challenge, and donate money to the Stroke Association.

During the week we will be having a pureed food and thickened fluid dinner party, and will also be going to a restaurant to see whether they can puree a meal for us. We will all be blogging about all our experiences HERE, so come back to see how we get on!

Here is why we are doing this:

20% of the population may experience difficulties in communication at some point in their lives.

  • 7% of five year olds entering school have significant difficulties with speech and/or language
  • 60% of young offenders have speech, language and communication needs
  • 50,000 people who have a stroke every year have speech and language difficulties.
  • 700,000 people with dementia have speech, language ad communication needs
  • Up to 75% of stroke survivors will have problems with swallowing immediately after their stroke


Here are the individual challenges that we will be doing:

Sarah Cox: For the Challenge I will be voluntarily stammering during phone calls and interactions with people I do not know (e.g. shop assistants, cafe baristas, etc). Voluntary Stammering is a technique sometimes used by adults who stammer to help them to be more in control of their stammer, and to reduce anxiety around stammering. I will be doing this to experience some of the feelings that people with a stammer may face on a daily basis, and also to raise awareness that stammering is not just a childhood condition, and affects around 1 in 100 adults.

Helen Currie: For the Challenge I will be using alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) to request my wants and needs. I will use a speech aid app on my handheld device to communicate without speech. I will be doing this to experience some of the feelings and everyday difficulties that people who use AAC may face both in socializing and in every day activities, and also to raise awareness that many people with a variety of difficulties rely on AAC to aid their communication. People who make use of AAC include individuals with a variety of congenital conditions such as cerebral palsy, autism, learning disability, and acquired conditions such as traumatic brain injury and aphasia.

Venetia Clark, Lucy Crook and Fiona Moore: We are taking on the challenge of only eating pureed food. Our usual diet of pizza, salad, biscuits and fruit will be replaced by pureed food, which requires no chewing and is thick in consistency. This is not a new diet fad! It is the reality faced by many who suffer from swallowing difficulties (“dysphagia”). It affects a wide group of society, from those who have strokes, dementia, mouth/oesophageal cancer and learning disabilities. We will be doing this challenge to gain a better understanding of what it is like to live on this diet and to raise awareness of some of the issues that people with swallowing difficulties may face in their daily lives.

Claire Foster and Alba Frederella: For most of us downing our morning cup of coffee, drinking a nice, cold glass of water on a hot day or relaxing on a Friday night with glass of wine doesn’t take much thinking about. But for some people following a stroke or brain injury and in conditions like motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis, their ability to swallow can be severely impaired. Speech and Language Therapists work with these people to try and regain some of their swallow function. One technique is to add a thickener to fluids which makes them thick and syrupy. When a liquid is more viscous, it travels down the throat much more slowly and gives people’s swallowing muscles time to respond. For the Challenge we will drinking ONLY thickened liquids to experience what it’s like for some of our clients.


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