Professional networks

Talking About Stammering at Work

Join the growing band of people who stammer who've set up workplace networks for people who stammer.

Over the years we've been increasingly invested in thinking about the needs of people who stammer in the workplace, and we're about to launch a piece of work defining our goals around creating better workplaces for people who stammer. Make sure you sign up to our mailing list (fill out the form at the very bottom of the page) for news so you can keep tabs on developments in the weeks and months ahead.

The Equality Act 2010 has significant implications for people who stammer, so we've created resources for you to use. Check out the links to the side around employment, the law, bullying and reasonable adjustments.

If you require support at your place at work, check out the Support at work section of the site or call our helpline on 0808 802 0002. The Stamma helpline is open weekdays 10am-12pm and 6pm-8pm. 

Employers Stammering Network
Iain Wilkie, ESN co-founder
Iain Wilkie, ESN co-founder

The Employers Stammering Network (ESN)

Launched in May 2013 by the British Stammering Association, under the joint leadership of Norbert Lieckfeldt and Iain Wilkie, the Employers Stammering Network was the first national network of its kind in the world. Focussed on the needs of employers and employees, the ESN's ambitious plan was to support people who stammer so that they may achieve their full career potential. By 2018, the ESN's member network covered an employee population of 1.5 million.

In many workplaces there is little understanding or awareness of the issues that affect the over 1.5 million adults in the UK who stammer. Yet people who stammer often have qualities that employers rate highly, such as resilience, empathy, listening skills and creativity. People may not even realise that a colleague stammers, as people who stammer may go to great lengths to hide it.

The inspiration for setting up the ESN was the knowledge that people who stammer are twice as likely to be unemployed, more so if their stammer is severe. Many employers hold negative attitudes towards people who stammer which can impact on the likelihood of successful recruitment or promotion. 

Achievements

The ESN successfully raised the issue of stammering as a disability across key industry players in the UK; educating employers about the causes of stammering and the impact a stammer can have on an individual. The ESN had six founding members (Civil Service, EY, FirstGroup, KPMG, Prudential and Shell) and additional partner members and members across the public and private sectors. The British Stammering Association coordinated the Network, employing a part-time ESN Membership Manager, Helen Carpenter.  

The ESN provided support through: 

  • Running ‘Re-defining Stammering at Work’ workshops for employees and employers
  • Presenting ‘Stammering Awareness’ workshops to HR teams
  • Creating a Leadership Group of selected Champions across industries
  • Creating an Advisory Group of respected and experienced supporters
  • Producing ‘Understanding stammering: a guide for employers’ 
  • Building an active community through dedicated online resources and supporting the growth of employee-run staff networks such as in EY, across the UK Civil Service and both civilian and military personnel in the Ministry of Defence (DSN).
  • A pilot mentoring programme. Running for six months, the pilot provided one-to-one mentorship for young people who stammer. 

Building on the success of the Employers Stammering Network, we are now planning the next five years in relation to stammering and work. We will be having a series of meetings to formulate our plans so watch this space of further information.

Visit the Employers Stammering Network Facebook Group, a space where people can discuss issues relating to stammering and recruitment, employment and interviewing, etc.

Iain is also the founder of '50 Million Voices', a campaign bringing together employment leaders from around the world to collaborate and transform opportunities at work for people who stammer.

Defence Stammering Network
Captain Jimmy Lang
Captain Jimmy Lang, 
DSN co-founder

The Defence Stammering Network (DSN) supports, inspires and champions people working in the UK Armed Forces and Defence Civil Service who stammer. We believe the DSN to be the first such network in the world.  

The DSN provides its members with support in the workplace, through online channels and with professional employment advice. The DSN raises stammering awareness through publicity and communications across UK Defence, wider government and other UK employers. 

The Network is fully supported by the Defence Board as part of the Ministry of Defence (MOD)’s Defence Diversity and Inclusion Programme. It also works in close partnership with the BSA and its Employers Stammering Network (ESN).

History

The Defence Stammering Network was established in 2014 by Corporal Emmanuel Ottih, Captain Jimmy Lang MBE and MOD civil servant Walter Scott. Walter said, “I met Jimmy and Emmanuel through the BSA and we very quickly realised that we were all pulling in the same direction, having all just gone through speech therapy. We wanted to start tackling attitudes and raising awareness in the Armed Forces. So we set up the DSN." 

The Network was officially launched at a reception at the House of Lords on 14 July 2015  hosted by Baroness Whitaker, a patron of the BSA, and attended by top MOD figures.

The DSN has gone from strength to strength and through its activities and campaigning, stammering is now officially recognised in UK defence policy. It has also been the subject of two documentaries on Forces TV: ‘My War With Words’ and ‘Stammering – the unspeakable truth’. 

Enlist here 

If you work in the UK Armed Forces or Defence Civil Service and you stammer, the DSN would love to hear from you. 
Email 16MED-Stammering-Network@mod.gov.uk
Find them on Twitter (@UKDSN) and Facebook.

Read more about the DSN in this article on Forces.net.

Civil Service Stammering Network
Members of the Civil Service Stammering Network

The Civil Service Stammering Network (CSSN) is a group of civil servants from across the UK who want to champion the needs of stammerers and encourage the Civil Service to provide support throughout people’s careers, regardless of grade or department. The CSSN welcomes allies who have experience of stammering or simply want to understand more. Membership is open to everyone in the UK Civil Service.

The CSSN has built a network of ambassadors across the UK who can answer questions or connect people with information or support in their department or agency. CSSN are also working with the Civil Service Diversity & Inclusion team to improve the support offered in departments and across the whole Civil Service.

Get in touch with them by joining their Facebook group or find them on Twitter using @UK_CSSN.

Visit their website, where you can find lots of resources and blogs from members.

Stammerers Through University Consultancy (STUC)
Stammerers Through University Consultancy (STUC)

Founder Claire Norman says, "I was inspired to set up the Stammerers Through University Consultancy (or 'STUC', emphasising the possible feeling of being trapped by having a stammer) in 2015. Its aim is to bring together students and staff who stammer in a network where they can discuss issues and possible resolutions. 

I want to provide students with a greater insight into how going to university doesn’t have to be a daunting experience. It is vital to me that the message is emphasised that having a stammer does not have to prevent us from reaching our full potential."

If you are a student or work at a university and would like to contact Claire, email her at clairenorman@stuc-uk.org 

Visit the website and follow the STUC campaign on Twitter, using @STUC_UK.

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