Goodbye from the 2016/2017 Committee!

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The targets we set ourselves for 2016/2017 and how we have met them:

  • Instagram followers increased from 67 to 176 (annual target = 80)
  • Facebook members increased from 218 to 310 (annual target = 261)
  • Twitter followers increased from 335 to 507 (annual target = 402)

What a year it has been!

We are proud to say that in one year we have raised £949.24 for a variety of different causes: the Motor Neurone Disease Association, British Sign Language courses for students, Headway, The Stroke Association and Downright Excellent. This has been in many different forms, from bake sales to documentary showings and a Christmas concert with a great turn out from staff, students and the community.

We have also been proactive in raising awareness of various speech, language communication and swallowing needs and the role of the SLT. We held Express BSL lessons to raise awareness of the Deaf community, we held online campaigns to encourage people to discuss important themes in Speech and Language Therapy, we held a dysphagia awareness event focussing on patient experience, and we had an Augmentative, Alternative Communication treasure hunt in the community, which encouraged passer-by’s to stop and ask questions. Our MND documentary screening of “Filming My Father: In Life and Death” was a particularly successful event that sold 44 tickets to a wide variety of people who had the unique opportunity to discuss their immediate thoughts, feelings and questions about the battle with MND with the son of the man in the documentary. The £200 we raised from this event was enough to fund an MND researcher for just over a day, or to fund laboratory equipment for 4 day’s vital research into finding out the causes of MND.

Here are some final words from each member of the 2016/2017 committee:

President – Ali Boston

thumb_img_2960_1024As budding speech and language therapists, we’re taught to be reflective practitioners. This means both celebrating the things that go well, and challenging ourselves to think about how we can do things better. Looking back on the past year of the UCL Giving Voice society, I feel that we have lots to celebrate. We reached more people than ever before with the Giving Voice message through social media, raised nearly £1000 for a range of charities, and provided a platform for people with speech, language, communication and swallowing difficulties to be heard.

Personally, this year has been both challenging and inspiring. It has been an absolute privilege to work with this committee – a group of people putting their exceptional skills to whatever task at hand with passion and dedication. It is rare to find such a group that will think creatively, will set high expectations for themselves, will take initiative to overcome challenges, and will roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty (sometime literally) with no complaints. I will always remember the buzz of excitement surrounding each event or campaign we held this year, and the sense of accomplishment when each was over and we knew we’d done our part to make a difference.  

A particular highlight for me was partnering with the UCL Communication Clinic to support them at the Bloomsbury Festival, where our brave volunteers engaged with over 150 members of the public to raise awareness about the challenges of living with aphasia and the role of SLTs in helping people to overcome those challenges.

Thank you to all our society members this year for doing your part; to all the people who contributed to running events; to those who attended/gave money to/read about our activities; to Giving Voice central for all their support; and especially to this year’s committee.  I look forward to seeing what the UCL Giving Voice society gets up to in future!

Vice President – Sophie Trevis-Smith

aacBeing part of the Giving Voice Committee has been both challenging and rewarding in equal measures! Each event has brought about it’s own unique hurdles! However, I have been continually amazed at how the committee has been able to pull together to overcome these! Not only that, but I have been overwhelmed by the fantastic support we have received from our society’s members and from the general public! Thank you to everyone who has supported the society this year!

A highlight (although there were many for me!) was hosting the Taster Evening in October. I loved this event because we were able to share information about Speech, Language and Communication Needs with a diverse range of students from a variety of academic backgrounds. This was made especially enjoyable due to the enthusiasm of the attendees! Good luck to the new committee- I know you’ll do an amazing job!

Treasurer – James Eastman

dsc_0589Being part of the Giving Voice Committee this year has, although difficult at times, been a lot of fun! It’s been great to work alongside so many talented people who have worked so hard to make each event such a success. Each event has thrown different challenges and obstacles at us, but each time it’s been a group effort to get through everything and put on events which (we hope!) everyone that has attended has enjoyed and taken something from. It’s been a great sideline from all the work and stressful times of the course and each time an event has come around it’s been a fantastic reminder of why we put ourselves forward!

A particular highlight of the year for me was helping to organise and run the Christmas Carol Concert alongside Abbi. This event posed particular challenges right up to the day it took place, but with everyone’s help we managed to put on a really fun and enjoyable event. I’ve never organised something like that before, but the feedback we got from everyone who came and the from the choirs who took part, definitely made it all worth it! Thank you to everyone who came to all the events, and to the committee for people such a great group to work with!!

Social Secretary – Mahie Sumathipala

SwallowAware-10Being a part of the Giving Voice Committee this year was such an incredible experience. Working with a team of individuals who are whole heartedly dedicated to this profession made it all the more enjoyable. The whole team worked tirelessly over the last year to host a range of unique and educational events and it has been such a pleasure to be a part of introducing other individuals to the wonderful world of Speech and Language Therapy. We have had such huge support from lots of people, but we have been especially lucky to have met individuals who were willing to get involved with Giving Voice events and share their personal stories about living with or knowing someone with speech, communication and swallowing difficulties.

One of my favourite events was the Dysphagia awareness event as this is an area that not a lot of people know that SLTs are involved with. I wish the next committee the very best of luck and to continue raising awareness about speech, language, communication and swallowing difficulties. Most importantly, I hope GV continues to educate and break down societal boundaries that individuals living with these difficulties face in day to day life.

Social Secretary – Abbi Songhurst

dsc_0484It has been an absolute blast working with this group of lovely people this year as part of the GV society. I have thoroughly enjoyed raising awareness of the profession and conditions that can cause speech, language communication or swallowing needs.

A particular highlight for me was coordinating a choir of children from the charity Downright Excellent, who came to sing and sign at our Christmas concert. It was amazing to see their confidence on stage and to see the public celebrating the success of these children. I hope that this is something future societies continue as it was such a success for the audience, the children and their families. I am so excited to see what the next committee have in store and wish you every success!

Social Secretary – Bridget Yu

SwallowAware-18It has been an amazing experience working with these lovely people. By being part of the GV committee, not only have I learnt a lot more on communication and swallowing difficulties, most importantly I have enjoyed myself in all the activities.

My favourite one was the swallowing awareness event in March. It was very satisfying to see that those who came were genuinely interested and have gained a lot through the event. A huge thank you to everyone who has helped or come to any of our events. Great work team!!

Publicity Officer – Chloe Thomson

word-findingI am really glad that I got to be a part of this year’s Giving Voice Committee and that I was able to support the events and campaigns run by the society. Pushing forward GV’s agenda, raising awareness of Speech Therapy, as well as giving a voice to people with speech, language, communication and swallowing needs has been so rewarding.

A highlight for me was running an introductory event last year to show people who may never have had any contact with Giving Voice what is really all about! It was amazing to see how much hard work the committee put in, as well as how interested people were in Giving Voice’s message.

Overall, I have loved having the opportunity to raise awareness of a field of work so close to my heart. The whole community surrounding and supporting people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) and swallowing difficulties are a wonderfully passionate bunch – but most of all I have enjoyed seeing those people with SLCN or swallowing difficulties have the opportunity to advocate and represent themselves. I look forward to carrying on working in this field and wish the best of luck to the new committee!

Publicity Officer –  Reanne Coleman

screenshot-4I’m so pleased that I decided to run for one of the Publicity Officer positions this year. Not only has it been good to focus on something apart from our deadlines, it’s been empowering and uplifting to be part of a society who have worked so hard to promote the amazing work of Speech & Language Therapists and raise public awareness about speech, communication and swallowing difficulties.

A highlight for me was the AAC Treasure Hunt that I co-ran with our President, Ali. It was probably one of the most complicated events that I’ve ever had to organise but it was also great fun and it proved to be a success! Most importantly, we were able to be outreaching and promote the work of SLTs to members of the public who were simply curious to find out why we were standing at random landmarks around central London!

Overall, I found being a member of the committee a thoroughly enjoyable experience and I know this was only possible thanks to the fantastic group of people around me who all pitched in to help wherever they could to make every event work. I wish the new committee every success and look forward to seeing what you get up to on social media!

Communications Secretary – Hollie St John Wright

SwallowAware-18Being part of Giving Voice this year has been brilliant! Not only have I really enjoyed myself, but it’s been fun working so closely with my fellow committee members and actually feeling like we’re making a difference outside our little speechie bubble. It’s been so rewarding feeling like we’ve reached out to new people and sparked a genuine interest in communication and swallowing needs (particularly at our dysphagia event), and I’m really excited to follow the new committee and see where they will take Giving Voice next!

Personally, being part of Giving Voice this year has given me an extra reminder about why I’m doing what I’m doing: training to become a Speech and Language Therapist. For many of us on the MSc course, there have been some really difficult times with what feels like constant deadlines, but Giving Voice and all it stands for, and my lovely committee have kept my passion going! What a year it’s been!

Communications Secretary – Kim Talbot

img-20161026-wa0034Putting myself forward for the Giving Voice Committee was a step out of my comfort zone but I haven’t regretted a single moment! In fact, it’s made me more determined to get involved in ‘extracurricular activities’ in the future.

I’ve been very lucky to work alongside an amazing, supportive team of people who have such creative and innovative ideas. I’ve really enjoyed all the events we have run together to promote Speech and Language Therapy, as well as the clients we will work with in the future. I’ve particularly enjoyed being able to use my creative side to create all the posters for events and to write this blog! We have managed to raise nearly £1000 for a variety of charities and it’s amazing to consider what that money will go towards. 

A particular highlight for me was the Bake Sale I ran for the Stroke Association. I was overwhelmed by the support we had from everyone in Chandler House, and I never imagined it possible to raise over £200 from one day of cake selling!

As I start my career in Speech and Language Therapy, I aim to continue raising awareness of our profession and advocating for the clients we work with. Best of luck to the new committee!

Year A Representative – Liz Douglas

20170201_195352I have loved being in the committee this year. It has given me so many experiences to learn more about speech and language therapy, meet a variety of people and to help spread the word about speech and language therapy. 

The highlight for me would be meeting Frazer, whose father had motor neurone disease, and learning about the impact of language difficulties on a family and what they found supported them. I will bring the experiences and all that I have learnt into my future career.

Some feedback we have received from UCL staff:

“The enthusiasm, quality and breadth of engagement activities have been outstanding over the year. The Society has welcomed UCL students who are not studying SLT not only to events but also as members of the committee. The events have disseminated information within UCL but also fostered robust links with service users, charities (e.g. the MND Society) and members of the public (e.g. activities at the Bloomsbury Festival). As Head of Department, I offer sincere and deep thanks for all the Society has done this year to spread the word about speech, language and swallowing difficulties, the people who experience them and the importance of services for them.”

Rosemary Varley – Chair of Acquired Disorders of Language Communication UCL

“This year’s UCL Giving Voice committee have been a model of how to work collaboratively and promote enthusiasm and innovation.  They have organised a series of interesting events to promote awareness of speech and language difficulties.  These were well attended, not only by UCL speech and language therapy students but also by students on other courses and friends.  They have increased their social media presence in a remarkable way.  For example, they now have 491 followers on Twitter.”

Rachel Rees – Senior Teaching Fellow UCL

‘The UCL Giving Voice Society’ is now an established part of our community, reaching beyond SLT students and staff.  The committee has recognised the importance of social engagement. It has been a privilege to witness their enthusiasm and commitment to SLT and the shared understanding of people with communication and swallowing disabilities.’

Steven Bloch – Senior Lecturer UCL

“We are very proud of the continued success of the UCL Giving Voice Society, which has gone from strength to strength. The Committee continues to organise a range of interesting and varied activities that have been highly effective in raising the profile of speech, language, communication and swallowing needs both across the student body and also in the local community.  In addition, they have raised money for a number of charities working to support people with SLC and EDS needs.  The committee is a veritable model of teamworking and leadership and shows evidence of wholehearted commitment to the SLT profession.  I do not hesitate to recommend them.”

Carol Sattchett- Principal Teaching Fellow UCL

As you can see, we have all thoroughly enjoyed our time on the UCLU Giving Voice committee and wish the new committee luck in the coming year! Thank you again for all of your ongoing support.

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Facebook: UCLU Giving Voice Society

Twitter: @GivingVoice_UCL

Instagram: uclugivingvoice

Email: ucl.givingvoice@gmail.com

 

UCLU Giving Voice Swallowing Awareness Day 2017

To raise awareness of swallowing difficulties this year, the UCLU Giving Voice Committee decided to combine a twitter campaign with an interactive, informative swallowing awareness evening, encouraging guests to consider the client’s perspective.

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 21.06.53In the 11 days leading up to our main event, we posted articles, images and videos all about dysphagia across social media. Some of these were to share information about prevalence of dysphagia, and others were to pose questions, such as the role of Apps in the management of dysphagia. During this period, we received 6,400 twitter impressions, 314 twitter engagements, 138 likes on Instagram, and managed to get 52 people signed up to our event.

Our focus for the Swallowing Awareness Event was on patient experience. We wanted to help people better understand the psychosocial impact of dysphagia on patients, and to engage with quality of life issues for this group of people. Importantly, we wanted to celebrate all that speech and language therapists do to make a difference for people with swallowing difficulties.

Dr Jane Warren, neurologist, opened the evening by talking about what a normal swallow looks like, and gave an engaging insight into the complexity of the mechanism which so many people take for granted when it is working ok. Guests were intrigued and didn’t hold back with their questions, which ranged from the impact of cleft lip and palate on swallowing, to why people might drool more in their sleep!

We were lucky enough to have a patient generously share their story about their dysphagia following cancer; and to tell guests about how his swallowing had improved with the help of his speech and language therapist. It was poignant to think about the lasting impact of his difficulties, and how it has resulted in him having to think about not only how this affects him, but also his loved ones.

We used many of the materials provided by the RCSLT on their Swallowing Awareness page to frame each of the stalls during the second part of our evening in order to give guests a hands-on experience of how speech and language therapists assess, diagnose and treat patients with dysphagia.

SwallowAware-6.jpgThe first stall was the assessment stage of dysphagia management. Guests were able to experience having an oro-motor and swallow exam, and to understand the steps taken when assessing dysphagia, for example the need for Videofluoroscopy and FEES. Videos of these helped bring to life the mechanism with Dr Warren had explained and gave guests an opportunity to hear about how speech and language therapists work closely with other members of a multidisciplinary team as part of the assessment and treatment process.

There was some great feedback with pause for thought for all budding speech and language therapists: guests indicated that having their throat palpated could be intimidating, but that this was made better when the speech and language therapist explained what they were doing. The best part of the assessment process according to the guests was having an opportunity to express their concerns about their swallowing and have someone listen to their questions.

The second stall involved information about swallowing techniques and postural changes used to help patients with dysphagia. Guests were given the chance to practice modelling the exercises to Giving Voice committee members. We had a poll on the stall asking people to vote on a scale from “Comfortable” to “Not comfortable at all” about how they would feel using such strategies in a restaurant. Most people voted towards “not at all comfortable”, due to it feeling ‘awkward or embarrassing’. Many guests commented that it would depend if the exercises were time consuming or noticeable, and that it would likely affect where they would choose to sit in a restaurant. Overall, the poll provoked many interesting discussions about the psychosocial impact of swallowing and how much of an impact if would have on many of the activities most of us take for granted.

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At the third stall, guests had the opportunity to find out more about different thickened fluids by making and tasting their own, and comparing the impact of thickener on different drinks. Questions were raised about whether this would encourage an individual to maintain adequate hydration, and realistically how appealing this would be on a long-term basis. Guests commented that they would be more willing to drink thickened squash, as it was similar to jelly, but the water would be more difficult to bring themselves to drink, and that it would not psychologically satisfy the need to quench their thirst.

SwallowAware-13.jpgGuests also had the opportunity to see and try different levels of pureed foods. They were initially put off by the appearance of the foods in their unrecognizable states. They stated that they would find it difficult to follow a Speech and Language Therapist’s recommendation to follow such a diet modification. A brave few tried some of the thin puree brocolli, carrot and potato, and nobody recognised the vanilla sponge cake!

A few guests reported they had seen recently in the news about work in care homes to present pureed food in a way that means each individual food is recognisable. 100% of the guests asked reported they would find mealtimes more appetising with pureed food presented in this way, showing that enjoying food and maintaining adequate nutrition is heavily dependent on not only the taste of food, but also the appearance.SwallowAware-18.jpg

Finally, guests were able to bravely experience what it was like to feed someone else and be fed. Guests commented that it was an intimate experience, and reflected how important it is that people with swallowing difficulties who need assistance are not left out of experiencing eating as a social activity.

SwallowAware-14.jpgWe challenged people to sort different foods into ‘high risk’ and ‘low risk’ for people with mild swallowing difficulties. Some guests said that they’d never thought about food as being something risky, and were surprised by how many of their favourite foods were on the ‘high risk’ list.

 

We were impressed by the insightful questions raised and the engagement with all our activities. Overall, this event was a success in challenging people to think about the psychosocial impact of a swallowing difficulty by enabling them to consider this management process from a client’s perspective.

twitterlogoUCLU Giving Voice Committee

Facebook: UCLU Giving Voice Society

Twitter: @GivingVoice_UCL

Instagram: uclugivingvoice

Email: ucl.givingvoice@gmail.com

Winner of the UCLU Giving Voice Raising Awareness Challenge!

Back in September, armed with our  ‘Challenge Bag’, the UCLU Giving Voice committee encouraged the society’s potential new members to take on various challenges to spread awareness of speech, language, communication and swallowing needs.

Some of the challenges included hosting a dinner party with a communication friendly menu, tweeting 3 messages raising awareness of speech, language and communication needs (SLCN), and holding a film night with a movie relating to speech and language therapy, for example The Diving Bell and The Butterfly.

Here is a video of Hollie Wright taking the challenge of videoing herself explaining how to make a sweet milky tea backwards to highlight the additional processing demands for those with SLCN.

I didn’t expect my challenge to be straightforward, but I certainly didn’t anticipate it would be this difficult. The thought of finding it that tough to communicate ALL the time is not a nice one – Hollie Wright

The prize for the winner of the challenges was a beautiful piece of art by Sue from Headway Cambridgeshire, who is living with a brain injury. Sue created her artwork using a Batik style of painting, which uses wax to prevent dye from penetrating the cloth, leaving “blank” areas in the dyed fabric.

And the winner was…. Fionn MacLauchlan! Fi took the challenge of raising awareness of dysphagia by eating a pureed diet for a day and documenting it on social media.

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It was actually really hard trying to plan the sorts of food I could eat and it affected my social plans for the day too. I had porridge, scrambled eggs and soup. It was really bland and I can’t imagine doing this everyday. Being on a puréed food diet would be a lot more difficult than you think, and would take a lot of creativity and effort to keep it interesting. – Fi MacLauchlan

Congratulations to Fi! And well done to everyone who took part. Speech, language, communication and swallowing needs are viewed as ‘hidden disabilities’, as they are often not visible or obvious to other people. For this reason, it is important that we raise awareness of these difficulties in any way we can. Social media is a powerful tool to enable us to share our experiences: together we can hopefully shed light on these ‘hidden disabilities’. If you see an interesting tweet, or an informative Facebook video about SLCN or dysphagia – SHARE SHARE SHARE! Let’s get the word out!

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UCL Giving Voice Committee

Facebook: UCLU Giving Voice Society

Twitter: @GivingVoice_UCL

Instagram: uclugivingvoice

Email: ucl.givingvoice@gmail.com