This article is part of our Newsletter 2020 series. Make sure to check out the other articles to keep up to date with Irish Stammering Association news and events.
Welcome to the first issue of the ISA Newsletter for 2020.
When I originally drafted this introduction, the world was a very different place.
I am now redrafting it from within the coronavirus pandemic where social distancing and self-isolation are now the norm.
The whole country has been forced to rapidly adapt to the new environment as best they can. For a person who stammers there have been additional challenges, such as the increased use of the telephone and video conferencing technologies.
For some, these challenges can be seen as an opportunity to extend their comfort zone, but for many others, these are changes they will need to deal with as best they can.
The ISA has been working hard to move as many of its services as it can onto these same technologies, with the ISA setting up an account on Zoom. This was launched in early April with an Employment Support event on ‘Working from Home’, followed in quick succession by an ISAYiT event and a virtual support group. I know some people are apprehensive about these technologies; many people who don't stammer are too. As with all ISA events, participation is voluntary. If you attend a virtual support group meeting on Zoom, you don't have to talk; you may just want to listen to what other people have to say and connect with the stammering community.
The time before the pandemic took hold was an exciting time for the ISA. Our new Employment Support Officer, Georgina Dunlevy, had joined us in December 2019. Georgina has started to set up the employment support service that the ISA is now able to provide following increased funding under the Scheme to Support National Organisations (SSNO).
She had already begun to provide Employment Support Clinics. During the pandemic, these have moved onto Zoom but they are still being run on the first Wednesday of every month.
If you are interested in booking a slot, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Georgina is developing further services so keep your eyes peeled for future events over the coming months.
It is well recognised that many people have a fear of public speaking. According to the R.H. Bruskin Survey published in July 1973, 41% of people were found to be afraid of public speaking, while only 19% of people expressed a fear of death!
The ISA had organised a public speaking workshop for the end of March.
Unfortunately, events intervened and it had to be cancelled. Provisional plans are that it will be rescheduled for the end of September.
While having a stammer can make public speaking a challenge for many people, there are many people with a stammer who can present excellently in public, and many who don’t have one who come across as bad communicators.
The workshop is a great opportunity to help develop your communication skills even further.
While the SSNO funding allows the ISA to pay the direct costs of its staff, it does not cover the additional costs involved in providing services. In 2019 Andrew Myler ran the Dublin City Marathon, and Bevin Murphy and Veronica Lynch ran the Dublin City Mini Marathons to fundraise for the ISA and specifically ISAYiT, the ISA children’s drama group. A grant from the Hospital Saturday Fund will cover the vast majority of the costs in running National Stammering Awareness Day and the ISA AGM Conference events in both 2019 and 2020. We are very grateful to all involved in both providing and raising these funds.
ISAYiT celebrated its 10th anniversary last year and a gala event was held last November to mark this at the Black Box Theatre in the Gaiety School of Acting.
In front of a packed house, the children put on a great show, and were not shy when it came to answering questions from the audience. It was moving to see how supportive they were of each other and how much they had gained from working together under the inspirational direction of Charlie Hughes. This was another great example of how having a stammer does not have to hold you back, and how people who stammer can also be excellent communicators. ISAYiT is one of the proudest achievements of the ISA and I would like to thank all those who have been involved over the years in setting it up and running it and specifically Jonathon Linklater, Veronica Lynch, Bevin Murphy and Aisling Keogh. We’re all looking forward to the next ten years and the further adventures it may bring!