Fighting for Sheffield's Stammering Service

Two men sitting in a group setting

23rd July 2021

STAMMA lends its voice to keep the Sheffield specialist stammering service open to adults.

In a blow to over 18s in Sheffield, the NHS Trust in the Yorkshire City announced in April that it was no longer accepting adults who stammer to its speech & language therapy (SLT) service.

This has left adults seeking help in a situation where they either have no professional support or have to pay privately for support previously given by their local NHS Trust, if they can afford it.

Earlier this month, Kirsten Howells, Programme Lead at STAMMA, travelled to Sheffield to join forces with local therapists and adults who stammer to argue the case for keeping the specialist stammering service open. 

Speaking at a Social Care Scrutiny and Policy Development Committee meeting, she explained to councillors the impact stammering and the way others respond to it can have on a person's self-esteem, mental health, sense of career prospects and relationships.

What are adults like me supposed to do when they reach out for help... and all they get is a rejection letter saying 'sorry, there is simply no support for you here'?

Sheffield-based Dean Ridge, who founded the STAMMA Striders walking group, sent a letter which was also read out at the meeting. It read: "I am now a proud stammerer who isn't afraid to speak anymore. For all of my adult life I would only say what I could fluently and now I say what I want to, regardless of whether I stammer. This is such a massive difference for me in a world where communication is so important."

Demonstrating how therapy led him to want to help others through STAMMA Striders, Dean added, "None of this would have happened without access to SLT as an adult. I know the stammering service made a very important difference to my life and I am concerned to hear this is no longer available.

'What are adults like me supposed to do when they reach out for help, perhaps due to concerns that have been building up over time or because they hit a crisis point, and all they get is a rejection letter saying 'sorry, there is simply no support for you here'?"

Kirsten reported that the committee expressed concern over the timing and the way the service had been closed to adults before a full consultation was carried out. They recommended, amongst other things, that the service be reopened to new adult referrals whilst any consultations are being carried out with regard to the future of the service. 

We are aiming to be involved in the consultation process and will continue to press the NHS Trust and the Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to ensure that adults who stammer in Sheffield continue to have access to high quality support, free of charge.

You can help

We want adults who stammer to be able to access support from specialist NHS speech and language therapists if they wish to. 

If you live in Sheffield and you stammer, or are the parent of a child who stammers, we'd love to hear from you. Please contact us at help@stamma.org and we’ll get right back to you.

If you live outside of Sheffield and would like to share your experiences to help us demonstrate to the Sheffield CCG the impact of not having a service, get in touch, at help@stamma.org

We know services for adults elsewhere are similarly affected, so we hope to address this in the foreseeable future.

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