“ Website of campaign (Giving Voice) run by The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists to promote the importance of speech and language therapy „
At the end of 2010 the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) launched a national campaign (Giving Voice) promoting the importance of speech and language therapy in a time when the profession is at risk due to current changes. The RCSLT have a website alongside their campaign and that's what I'll be writing about here.
== Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists ==
The RCSLT is the professional body for speech and language therapists. I have been a student member since I started my course 4 years ago. We get a magazine (Bulletin) every month (which is where I first heard about the campaign) and there is usually an update on Giving Voice every month. The people of Newcastle held a flashmob supporting Giving Voice last month and this is going to be in the Bulletin next month.
== Speech and Language Therapists ==
When I tell people that I am studying 'Speech and Language Therapy' some people say 'so you can help me to talk', or 'I think that's what I need when I'm drunk!' - These comments really annoy me as there are so many more dimensions to this career. It also disappoints me that so many people are ill-informed, so I'd like to think this review might help some people that don't know exactly what an SLT is as well as inform you of the website supporting the Giving Voice campaign.
An SLT is a highly qualified professional who works with lots of different clients in a variety of settings. They assess and treat language, communication and swallowing difficulties in people of all ages. They work with a wide variety of clients, including people with speech problems, adults who've had a stroke, people with brain injuries, people who have swallowing difficulties and people with voice problems, to name but a few.
== Giving Voice ==
Giving Voice is a campaign which aims to demonstrate how speech and language therapy makes a difference to people with speech, language and communication needs, their families and the wider society. The campaign is also demonstrating that this vital service is cost-effective and value for money.
'With the financial climate hitting all areas of the economy the RCSLT realised the profession would be heading for a difficult period. As a result, we set in motion our Giving Voice campaign.'
Giving Voice will provide a strong platform to support national and local influencing as we move into more severe funding constraints across the public sector. We need your help to make it a success.
== Website ==
The website is interactive and easy to use. I'll go through the main pages within the site and give you an overview of what you can do on each page/the information that is available.
== Homepage ==
When you type www.givingvoiceuk.org into your internet browser (which I hope you will do after reading this review) you are brought to a professional looking page, which is quite eye catching. The RCSLT and Giving Voice logos are present at the top of the page. The first thing that I noticed when I visited the page for the first time was the featured video, which introduces the campaign. The video is very colourful and is worth a watch. You can access all of the other main pages from the homepage. You can also download a reporting activities form to let Ele Ramsay (National Co-ordinator for local campaigns) know what you have been doing for the campaign.
From the homepage you can also get information about what speech and language therapy is, why it matters and what the campaign messages are.
== Campaign Messages ==
This page outlines the campaign and states that the RCSLT believes:
* Speech and language therapists are specialists who enable people to develop or regain vital communication and swallowing skills.
* Problems with speech and language imprison the individual and severely limit their participation in family life, the community, education and the world of work.
* Tackling communication and swallowing problems reduces avoidable costs and waste in the NHS, local authorities, the criminal justice system and the wider economy.
* Urgent changes are needed to support timely access to speech and language therapy for those who need it.
You can click on each of the bullet points on the website for more information.
== Giving Voice toolkit ==
This part of the website is extremely useful if you want to get involved in campaigning for Giving Voice. There is a 16 page manual plus appendices and it's pretty easy to navigate between them. This part of the website is designed for people who have already had Giving Voice training, but if you haven't it could still be useful or you could contact Ele for more information about the campaign in your area.
Part of the toolkit is designing a speech bubble to explain why communication/SLT is important to you. You are encouraged to take a photo of your bubble and upload it to the expanding online gallery. There are some lovely bubbles with some really powerful messages. Some of them are really simple so it doesn't have to take a lot of time or effort to make a bubble.
== Giving Voice in the News ==
Giving Voice activities are taking place in the UK throughout the year, and you can find out about them at this part of the website. There are links to various newspaper articles which have been printed about speech and language therapy and Giving Voice. There are links to view news UK wide, or for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. There is also a link to press releases.
This section of the website is interesting and a good way to keep up to date with what is happening all over the country. It seems to be updated fairly regularly.
== Add your voice ==
This takes you to a page where you can watch the Giving Voice video (the one that appears on the home page) and design a speech bubble online to support the campaign. You can choose the shape and texture of the bubble and then share it to page. There are lots of colourful bubbles already there and when you put the cursor over one of the bubbles a name appears.
There are a number of videos on the website (including one of Gareth Gates, who supports the campaign) of why people are supporting Giving Voice. As a university we've got a few videos on the website (by year group). The website encourages you to add a video to show your support. They are uploaded onto youtube first and from there you can share them on the website. There are some really good ones :-)
== Mass Mobilisation ==
''Across the UK, RCSLT members are engaging with their local politicians as part of the Giving Voice campaign. Building relationships with politicians happens over time and through a mixture of activities. This autumn the RCSLT will enable members across the UK to meet their MP, MSP, AM or MLA as part of mass lobbies of parliaments across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland''
From this page you can fill in a short survey to register your interest in attending the mass mobilisation event. I have registered my interest in the London one for October :-)
== Local Campaigning ==
There is information here encouraging people to contact their local council candidates in the lead up to the local elections. There is a template letter which you can just fill in and then send it off to your local council candidates.
== Other ==
There are other pages of information available such as organisations which support the campaign
You can change the colour of the background (green, blue or white) and font (blue, white, black or green) as well as the font size. I can only seem to get the background colour to change (not the font colour or size). I only tried this for the purpose of this review. I've found that it is most readable at the default setting so I won't be changing the colours again.
There is also a section where you can download an order form to order merchandise to support your campaigning (pens, leaflets and stick notes). For every 100 items you order you get some free Giving Voice balloons (they are very prompt in delivering the merchandise - as I ordered some last week and had it within 48 hours!
== Overall ==
I think this is a really good website but I don't think enough people know about it (which is why I am writing about it today!) It's easy to use, interactive and the message is an important one. The only disadvantage that I can think of (and it's a very small one) is that the website is blue, white and green which are not the campaign colours (black and hot pink). It does however look really professional and the layout is the same as the RCSLT main website which is good continuity for people using both. I think that some of the information on the website will only be applicable to SLT's (e.g. mass mobilisation) but there is a lot of information and interactive aspects that can be useful to anyone who is interested.
If you know someone who has benefitted from speech therapy (maybe it's you?) then why not go and check out the website and add your voice? Or just simply find out more about the campaign. You do not need to have personal experience of speech and language therapy to support the campaign. Perhaps you appreciate the importance of speech and language therapy and just want to show your support. Twenty percent of the population will need a speech and language therapist at some point in their lives - that could be you or someone you love. You never know when you might need the support of an SLT.
*Other: The RCSLT has a page on facebook and they use this to support the campaign as well as other professional issues. There is also an independent facebook page running to support the campaign. I am one of the admins of this page along with a retired SLT (who set up the page), some newly qualified therapists and some service users. I was recently on a local radio station promoting this page. If you want anymore information please do not hesitate to contact me! :-)
**UPDATE: In October 2011, 4 months after graduating, I was delighted and overwhelmed to be awarded 'Outstanding Contribution to Speech and Language Therapy' at the RCSLT Honours and Giving Voice Awards 2011 for my involvement in the campaign throughout 2011. RCSLT have recently announced that Giving Voice will continue throughout 2012, and the website is updated regularly. Check it out!
Thanks for reading! I hope to see you Giving Voice soon! :D