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'Hello' is not ready to wave goodbye

Lynn Milford | 01.12.2011

Lynne Milford from The Communication Trust reflects on the achievements of the Hello Campaign in 2011, the National Year of Communication.

As campaigns go, 'Hello' was pretty special. The aim of the Hello campaign was simple - to make children and young people's communication development a priority in homes and schools across the country. Ever since John Bercow MP's Review of Services for Children and Young People (0-19) with Speech, Language and Communication Needs was published in 2008, the idea of a National Year of Communication was on the table, supported by then Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls MP. For 12 months the campaign focused entirely on highlighting the children and young people with communication needs and how people can help them.

Hello was launched in a blaze of glory thanks to the British Stammering Association and its fantastic awareness-raising around The King's Speech. A big thank you must go to all its members who have supported the campaign over the last year, commented on Facebook, ordered resources and spread the message far and wide.

Thanks to amazing support from two of our key campaign sponsors, BT and Pearson Assessment, we were able to boost awareness-raising and create some fantastic resources, including 'Universally Speaking' and 'Other Ways of Speaking'. Government funding enabled us to begin key strategic projects such as 'A Chance to Talk' and 'Talk of the Town'. The Trust also worked in partnership with the Communication Champion Jean Gross.

Gathering support

One of the first things that happened was a nationwide series of roadshows to inform people about the campaign and encourage them to sign up. This was a fantastic success with 200 people becoming local co-ordinators. They have been the backbone of the campaign, enthusiastically using our resources and creating their own events representing the monthly themes.

One of the strengths of the Hello campaign has been the support from parliamentarians. The parliamentary event in October was attended by John Bercow and Sarah Teather MP, as well as Alan Johnson MP, the former Secretary of State for Health. Annette Brooks MP has also been a key supporter, helping to get the issue on the agenda and arrange the event. Securing cross-party support is no mean feat, but thanks to the work of The Communication Trust and Jean Gross, we ensured the Hello campaign has been taken to some very important people. This has also led to the Trust being a key influencer in some very important policies, including the new Ofsted inspection strategy and the Expert Panel of the National Curriculum Review.

Highlights of Hello

So much has been achieved in a very short period of time - just 12 months. Highlights of the year have included smashing a Guinness World Record with I CAN's 'Chatterbox Challenge', disseminating to date 310,000 Hello resources, and supporting the launch of a brand new CBeebies TV programme, 'Raa Raa the Noisy Lion'.

In addition to this, 800 schools registered to take part in our 'No Pens Day Wednesday' initiative, and a brand new qualification was launched by The Communication Trust in conjunction with City and Guilds. In November we presented 14 awards at the first ever 'Shine a Light Awards 2011'. The awards were so successful that part of the Hello evaluation will be to look at how we can emulate this success if the awards were repeated in 2012.

Hello to the future

The National Year of Communication may be over, but Hello has certainly not been forgotten. While the Trust is evaluating the success of the campaign and looking at how its good points can be woven into our day-to-day working, all the resources will continue to be available to download at our website www.hello.org.uk

The local co-ordinators' newsletter will continue to be sent out, keeping our network up-to-date with information and resources and sharing good practice.

The 'Hello Journey' document, which tells the story of 2011, including resource suggestions and monthly themed activities, is available at www.thecommunicationtrust.org.uk/resources/resources/hello-campaign-reso...

It's been an amazing year and not without its challenges, but our focus is now on understanding the successes of the campaign and learning from them. There is a clear legacy from Hello which in no small part is down to the fantastic work done by local people and national partners. Together we have worked to make the very best of the opportunity that the National Year of Communication gave us.

From the Winter 2011/12 issue of 'Speaking Out', page 6