Empowering the stammering community in North Herts

Three images of a group of people smiling for the camera, the main picture in an outdoor setting

Above: Ramesh (fourth from left) with North Herts group members.

26th July 2023

Ramesh reflects on the success of the group he set up only last year, which is thriving through shared leadership.

Our group in North Hertfordshire was established in July 2022. This means we've just celebrated its first anniversary! 

I started our support group after looking on the STAMMA website for local groups in my area and discovered there were none. I felt a group was needed in order to bring a stammering presence and awareness to North Hertfordshire. 

We had our initial meeting on Zoom last August and it was lovely to meet local people who stammered. It was there where the idea of having shared group leadership was born. From the very beginning we had the vision of creating a community, something we can all share. The group has never been about what I wanted but what the local community and each individual member felt was needed. So we spoke about letting different people take the lead for each session. We also decided where our first physical meeting would be and when. 

Setting up a local group has been an amazing experience.

In September, the first meeting was held in Letchworth Garden City. There was a good turnout and a great sense of stammering community. We collectively discussed what the structure of meetings should be and how often we would meet. This set the tone for our future meetings. We then set up a shared WhatsApp group where we could discuss get-togethers and a rota for who would be chairing meetings for the coming year. 

We've done lots of activities over the past year including meeting at coffee shops, having meals in pubs and restaurants and going for walks in the beautiful countryside around North Hertfordshire. We aim to meet in different locations in the area to keep our group fresh and offer a sense of variety. People who have attended have liked this approach and commented: "We like meetings which take place in new areas and we like having different things to do".

...friendships have been established within the group by us working together and listening to everyone's perspectives and concerns.

The approach we take to the group can be identified as a stakeholder-led local community. Everyone who joins has an interest in how the group is managed and gets involved. There is a delegation of roles and responsibilities. This has brought new ideas and friendships have been established within the group by us working together and listening to everyone's perspectives and concerns.

Setting up a local group has been an amazing experience. What I have learnt by sharing the leadership of the group, delegating roles and responsibilities to others and empowering people to bring their ideas, is that it adds to the group and keeps it fresh. It has helped to establish the group, which can clearly be seen in our growth over the last year and in good regular attendance.

Vee, STAMMA's Network and Campaigns Lead, says "The North Hertfordshire group is a prime example of how shared leadership can work. It's not always about the big boss dictating what's going on. It's about encouraging everyone to step in. Stepping in and leading on a task or an activity can feel tremendously empowering for the individual, which in turn can lead to continued involvement. And the main leader sees the benefit of it straight away — less workload on themselves, more time for family and friends, Netflix, your football or book club, cooking, or whatever you enjoy doing outside of your commitments".

If you feel inspired to chat about potentially setting up a group in your area, contact Vee at communities@stamma.org. We'll help you every step of the way.

*The North Herts Group is organising a walk on Hampstead Heath followed by a meal on Saturday 4th November. It's a joint event with the North London Stammer Support Group. If you'd like to attend, email Ramesh at summanramesh@gmail.com