My name is Yinka Dolan, I’ve worked in local government for the past 20 years, as a child going into high school I noticed that I had developed a stammer, a fear of not being able to say certain words, and avoiding some speaking situations. I tackled my speech in my early thirties and since then after attending speech therapy and various training courses my speech and confidence has improved so much. I occasionally still do stammer or block, when tired or stressed but stammering is no longer an issue, and doesn’t hold me back anymore.
Due to my experiences of dealing with the issues of stammering and largely overcoming my fears, I started a self help group based at the Halliwell Jones Stadium nine years ago, which has gone from strength to strength. Two years ago 12 members of the support group attended a British Stammering Conference in Glasgow (funded by a grant from the Coalfields Trust) the theme was around Employment-ability, workshops were cantered on gaining employment, interview skills and presentation workshops, the BSA also launched the Employment Stammering Network (ESN) which enables employers to receive information, support & advice on how to recruit and support people who stammer, create a culture where people who stammer can reach their full potential. On returning to work from the conference I gave a presentation to the Equality & Diversity group meeting, following on from that the Council agreed to join the ESN and where the first Council to do so in Nov 2015, I agreed to be the Councils Stammering Champion .
On Monday 17th October on behalf of the Council (as member of the ESN), I attended an event by the Stammering Network at Speaker's House, The House of Commons, raising awareness of the fact that stammering therapy changes lives - and that it is becoming an endangered category in a cash-strapped NHS. There were amazing speeches by the Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House who was the host, BSA patron Ed Balls as well as George Freeman MP, Chair of the Prime Minister's Policy Board and himself a person who stammers and father of a stammering child.
The Stammering Network is a coalition of organisations advocating better support for children and adults who stammer: Action for Stammering Children, the British Stammering Association, City Lit Speech Therapy, the Clinical Excellent Network for SLTs with a special interest in stammering, the Employers Stammering Network, the Michael Palin Centre for Stammering Children and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.
The stars of the evening were young Olly (who also sang to us!) and Joe, Amanda and Walter with their very personal, authentic and courageous testimonies how therapy had transformed their lives.