Other research projects
Development of the NHS Stammering Network
In 2019, the DBT provided funding to cover the costs of exploratory research into the impact of stammering in the NHS workforce. Following completion of this work in early 2021, the NHS Workplace Disability Equality team offered further funding to cover the establishment of the new NHS Stammering Network for staff who stammer. This has included the development of a bespoke website for staff and managers to access information and resources – nhsstammeringnetwork.uk – alongside provision of half day peer mentoring workshops to support stammering staff, eg to discuss practical strategies to disclose stammers; developing skills to support future job promotion opportunities; building confidence in public speaking in the workplace (speaking up during team meetings at GP practice).
Transcription and annotation study
Louise Helliker is transcribing and annotating various speech recordings from the University of Suffolk Longitudinal Study, with the aim of putting together two matched sets of transcriptions; one set of children who stammer (CWS) and one set of children who do not stammer (CWDS). Analysis of the transcripts should reveal whether CWS use language differently, in terms of sentence length, vocabulary size, word pair and frequency. Further analysis will indicate the mood or attitude of each child demonstrating enthusiasm, high self-esteem, laughing and family. Louise has been assisted by two linguistics students from the University of Essex, with the ongoing support of her employer BT. A previous study, on smaller sets of children (also from the University of Suffolk study) showed that the CWS mention their families more often and have good vocabularies, but are much less likely to whisper or make noises, such as car or animal sounds.
Good Practice: Understanding the work of speech and language therapists
Dr Clare Butler is a senior lecturer in Work and Employment at Newcastle University Business School where her work has included focusing on discrimination. Clare has collaborated with DBT on two studies, contributing to current knowledge about stammering in the workplace and laying the foundations for the ESN. Most recently she has worked with UK SLT’s to better understand the impact of a changing context, including the effect of external pressures within healthcare. Her ideas were presented at the British Sociological Association (BSA), Work, Employment and Society conference at University of Leeds in September 2016.
The Employers Stammering Network
The Employers Stammering Network (ESN) – initiated by Iain Wilkie of the accountants Ernst and Young (EY) and Norbert Lieckfeldt, then CEO of the British Stammering Association – and the result of a study by Dr Clare Butler at Newcastle University (funded by the DBT) – has made a real difference in the workplace, helping people who stammer overcome the many challenges they face and achieve their full career potential. It continues to break new ground supporting individuals, whilst also influencing policy and practice.
Interest is growing and the ESN is seeing people from different sectors and at various stages of their working lives, including business-owners, the self-employed, students and those just starting out. The network is expanding with activities now including mentoring, running workshops and education. A small-scale pilot-mentoring scheme has got off to an excellent start. Currently involving 20 mentors and mentees, it aims to enable young adults (18-25) who stammer to enhance their employment and career prospects by working with a mentor who also stammers. Plans are afoot to extend the programme in 2019.
In the last year, the ESN has held another series of Redefining Stammering at Work workshops, enabling people to address the issues they face at work. “We are grateful to the DBT for funding an external evaluation of these workshops by Prof. Victoria Joffe and colleagues at City, University of London. All participants found the programme beneficial, in terms of shared learning, networking and group support. They reported significant changes in their own feelings/perceptions of stammering, as well as changes in attitudes of colleagues and we will be repeating the workshops for a new cohort this year.” said ESN manager, Helen Carpenter.
In 2017, the Dominic Barker Trust funded an evaluation of the effectiveness of the ‘Redefining Stammering at Work’ programme, led by researchers at City University, which found that many participants reportedly experienced considerable changes in their attitudes towards stammering after attending the programme. Being open about stammering facilitated greater confidence and, during the course of the workshops, participants were able to identify key support mechanisms to meet their personal goals and professional aspirations. The feasibility study has shown that a short, group-delivered programme was beneficial to recipients.