Dear Supporter and Friend,
Let me tell you the story of “R” who is 27 years old and who contacted us a few weeks ago. Many of you will be familiar with aspects of this story.
“Stammering has been a part of my life for longer than I can remember. The problems with my speech and a difficult childhood have left their mark on me with very deep emotional scars. I got therapy for the psychological trauma but it didn't help. I did try speech therapy but that didn't help either. I was totally depressed and could not see the light at the end of this black, dark tunnel. Throughout my life I have suffered from self-confidence issues and low self-esteem (all linked to stammering). I let people walk over me and I was unassertive.”
Things took a turn for the worse when R looked elsewhere to ease his distress:
“I used drugs as an escape, I used stimulants and got drunk most days believing they helped me to talk ‘normally’ and make me feel better. I got to my lowest point at the end of last year when I tried, several times, to take my own life. I spent several days in hospital and then I also spent some time in a psychiatric hospital.”
After this terrible period in R’s life he decided that he needed to get some ongoing help. He got in touch with us. R went on to say:
“I contacted the British Stammering Association. They suggested I look again at some speech and language therapy to help with my speech, and to increase my confidence. I was also directed to my local self-help group. There, for the first time, I found a mutual support group of people who also stammered and understood from personal experience how debilitating stammering can be. I have contacted BSA a number of times recently. I feel in a much better place than I did at the end of last year. I began focusing on acceptance of stammering. I have worked on improving self-esteem. I started to take care of my appearance.”
R is one of the thousands of people helped each year by the British Stammering Association. The helpline and email answering service makes up part of our Information and Support Service which includes:
- Information about local support groups. All the groups are run independently by fantastic volunteers, and we aim to refer callers to them wherever possible.
- Our comprehensive website, accessed by over 15,000 users each month.
- Our closed Facebook group bringing people together in a safe space on social media to talk about deeper or sensitive issues. There are now more than 2,500 online members. A significant number of these members are parents who bring their anxieties to the group and receive support from us and from other members.
- Our specialist Education helpline where our Education Officer sorts out problems with schools one boy and one girl at a time.
As you know, there is no cure for stammering but speech and language therapy can be tremendously helpful. The problem that many face is accessing this help. We have had reports of many services being reduced or closed altogether. Many services across the country are keeping pre-school children waiting for up to a year to be assessed, and in some areas, there isn’t even any NHS provision for school aged children. NHS services across the country including almost all of Hampshire, large parts of Surrey, North Yorkshire, and parts of Essex for example, no longer provide therapy for adults who stammer. This leaves people who stammer with a limited choice or no choice at all.
These short term savings in NHS resources could have terrible long-term consequences for those who stammer. Therefore it is even more important the British Stammering Association is here to help which is why I write to ask for your support. In this week leading up to International Stammering Awareness Day, I ask would you kindly donate to help us help those who struggle because of stammering.
A donation would mean those who contact the British Stammering Association will:
• Feel less isolated with their stammer and experience greater confidence
• Feel they have a place to work on social skills which can help with all relationships by using speech and language therapy tools and techniques learnt during therapy sessions
• Feel better able to accept stammering, or feel less concerned about it
• Feel comfortable and able to do the things that fluent people take for granted such as going into a restaurant and ordering the food they like
• Feel less isolated trying to cope with a child who stammers
• Be able to cope with employment, discrimination issues and personal life crises.
From everyone here at the British Stammering Association and those who rely on our services, thank you so much for your continuing support.
With best wishes.
Norbert Lieckfeldt, Chief Executive
How to donate
1. use the box below to make your donation online - select either 'Single Donation' or 'Regular Donation', or
2. text STAM16 £10 to 70070 to donate £10 to BSA (£10 max per donation, lower amounts possible), or
3. send a cheque to our postal address. If you make a gift aid declaration as well, we will be able to reclaim tax on your gift.