The Starfish Project is a non-profit organisation that provides therapy with free lifetime support.
What ages is it for?
What does it do?
Established in 1998, Starfish teaches techniques to help people who stammer gain control of their speech and increase confidence. The training combines diaphragmatic retraining (costal breathing), avoidance reduction therapy and positive attitude development in a caring and supportive environment.
What happens on a course?
This is a three-day residential course at a hotel in Eastbourne giving one-to-one training, given by recovering stammerers (people who return to the course voluntarily to refresh their technique and help new participants learn). Numbers of people on a course is restricted to ensure the maximum individual attention is given.
Days start at 9am and finish at 5 or 6pm. Regular breaks are provided. In the evenings there is plenty of opportunity to practise the costal breathing technique in a relaxed social situation and around the table during dinner with everyone else on the course.
Training sessions are not just theory-based and include role-play to practice the technique in everyday situations, including telephone work, ordering a drink in a pub or a meal in a restaurant, talking to a group, etc. An initial Starfish Project course will end by preparing participants for the next step and how to handle future challenges.
What else is included?
Free lifetime support is provided, including:
- The Starfish nationwide telephone support list, with details of other participants who are available by phone 365 days a year to assist your progress.
- A personalised programme for your continued progress.
- Local Starfish support groups that meet regularly throughout the country.
- Free refresher courses (just the cost of the hotel room).
- Regular Starfish Skype conference support group sessions with worldwide members.
Who delivers the course?
Anne Blight (founder) is the principal course coach, with all one-to-one training given by returning participants, who use the technique. They are not qualified Speech and Language Therapists.
Where and when are courses held?
Regular three-day courses are held throughout the year for adults and at least one course per year for young people aged 11–16 at a country house hotel near Hailsham, East Sussex (9 miles from Eastbourne). Easy access by plane, train (5 mins to station) and car (free parking provided).)
How much does it cost?
There is a one-off course fee of £250. Participants can return for free lifetime refresher courses.
The hotel provides a special Starfish rate: an en-suite single room with full English Breakfast and 3-course dinner for three nights at £68.25 per night including VAT.
Where can I find out more?
Starfish alumni Callum Schofield talks about what the course did for him in his podcast 'The Schofield Stories'.