Charles Kenyon: A long walk and cultural support for stammerers

Our columnist looks at initiatives to help greater understanding of those with the condition

Charles Kenyon
Charles Kenyon

Tim Fell, the inspirational national chair of the British Stammering Association, lives close to me in Lincolnshire. He has just walked from John O'Groats to Land's End to raise awareness of stammering, holding talks and meetings along the way. He did the Stamwalk because of the discrimination faced by those with stammers. He hopes that conversations about the condition will increase everyone's confidence, such as the child who feels an outsider because they can't experience the same warm relationships as their siblings.

Last month, I met a farmer from Wales. English is his second language and stammering with a strong accent is a barrier he encounters all the time. I wonder how many others with English as a second or third language have been unable to get education, training and jobs. Like Fell, he has such a great personality that awaiting a word is no issue, but was it like that for them as teenagers?

Over the Humber, an initiative called Hear in Hull is running as part of the City of Culture 2017. The project aims to build a better understanding of people who stammer. It coincided with International Stammering Awareness Day on 22 October and ends with an exhibition of portraits of famous people who stammer in the Paragon Exchange on 8 December. To paraphrase a poem in the Stamwalk blog: "To raise support/For those whose speech is fraught/So let us rejoice/We all have a voice!"

Charles Kenyon lives near Market Rasen, retiredcolonel@oldvicarage.net

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