It was with a mixture of sadness and celebration as guests attended the last RCSLT/ Libraries NI tour of My Journey My Voice at the Shankill Road Library on 14 December 2017. Baroness May Blood was joined by the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Nuala McAllister, alongside other elected representatives and special guests to launch the Shankill based event. We were especially delighted that Margaret Rice, one of our fantastic participants, was able to join us at the launch and bravely spoke about her experiences of communication difficulties following a stroke.
It was heartening to see how successful this collaborative tour has been in raising awareness of the many obstacles facing people living with communication difficulties have to overcome. The project set out to educate and inform because these issues affect one in five people and there is a need to get this message out to the general public, government policy representatives and politicians to ensure that the right support at the right level gets to those who need it most.
At the event Alison McCullough MBE, RCSLT Head of Northern Ireland Office spoke about the challenges for those with a communication difficulty. She said: "Although the Libraries NI tour is coming to a close, this is not the end of the road for the My Journey My Voice project. The RCSLT has secured funding from the Health and Social Care Board to develop this concept into a schools project which is really exciting. The legacy of My Journey My Voice will be to continue to raise awareness amongst our young people, and hopefully promote better inclusion for children who have speech difficulties.”
Helen Osborn, Acting Chief Executive of Libraries NI said, "it has been a privilege to work with the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists and to host the My Journey My Voice exhibition. Customers of different ages and backgrounds have visited the exhibition in libraries and found it to be an invaluable learning experience. I know that this will impact their understanding and the understanding of many others in their local communities.”
Guests were also treated to a fantastic, festive performance from a choir organised by RCSLT speech and language therapists throughout Northern Ireland through the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapy clinical excellence network. The choir is made up of around 50 service users, families, friends, speech and language therapists and music therapists who aim to raise awareness of stammering and other communication disability.