14th April 2022
Paul Pearsall from the Birmingham Stammering Support Group tells us his idea for using YouTube to get people talking at local groups.
I'm Paul and I help to run a stammering support group in Birmingham. We are a small friendly group that started in 1994, meeting at first in a church hall. Organisers have come and gone over the years and I've eventually come to take the lead in running the group.
Since doing that I've wanted to modernise it. First of all, I looked at the way other self-help/support groups for people who stammer were operating. They were using Zoom and Facebook pages, along with Twitter and Instagram. Fortunately for me, STAMMA gives support and advice to the self-help groups around the UK with its dedicated networks lead, Vee, and I am taking every advantage of this. I hope to have zoom meetings up and running soon for the group, as well as a Facebook page, but little steps, one thing at a time. We are currently going through a change from being a social group to more of an informal discussion group.
Keeping groups engaged
It's always a struggle to find new ways and ideas to keep the group engaged. Apart from helping to run a stammering self-help group, I am also a member of a book group. Each member of that group reads a book, in their own time, then meets up to discuss it together. This gave me the idea of using this concept for the stammering group, but instead of talking about books we could transpose this idea to a video clip on YouTube, with members discussing various videos they've watched.
So, while preparing and researching for the next group meeting, I looked at YouTube and typed in 'Stammering' or 'Stuttering'. I was amazed at what came up; there are so many stammering videos out there! If you don't believe me, try it yourself. It's an unstoppable cart of stammering and stuttering ideas. It gets even better, as other group members can also look on YouTube and suggest other video clips and ideas for discussion and debate, which means I have less work to do in organising the group! If you run a group, whether it meets face to face, or by zoom, the same premise and idea will work, and it'll give you an enormous amount of material to talk about in the group. Just watch out for videos claiming to 'cure' stammering, of course.
I wish everyone happy debating!
If you live in the Birmingham area and would like to join Paul's group, they meet on the third week of every month on a Saturday near Edgbaston Cricket ground. See the Birmingham Stammering Support Group's page for more details.
More ideas for groups
We've got lots of other ideas for activities and things to do at stammering groups on our Local Groups page. Here are just some from the long list:
- Good News. As members introduce themselves, ask them to add some something good which has happened to them recently.
- The Alphabet Game. There are lots of variations of this, one combines speaking in unison as well as individual speaking. The first speaker starts by saying, for example, "I went to the market and I bought an apple" (or another word beginning with 'A'). The second person then leads the whole group in repeating: "I went to the market and I bought an apple and a..." He or she adds something beginning with the letter B. The third person then leads the whole group in repeating what has been said so far and then adds a word beginning the letter C, and so on.
- The Name Game: Start at one end of the room and have the first person just say their name. The person next to them has to say that person's name and his or her own. The third person gives the names of the first two people, etc, until the last person must name everyone. A variation can be using fictional names or names of famous people.
There are loads of topics you could talk about in the group, such as:
- Talk about your experiences of speaking in different situations. How does it make you feel? What do you think the other person was thinking and feeling?
- Share the moment when you felt best about yourselves as people who stammer.
- Discuss the best ways to react to someone who behaves inappropriately with you, (eg filling in words, looking away from you, etc).
- Do you feel proud to stammer?
- How would you like society to change for people who stammer?
- Ask each member to prepare a short talk about something they're passionate about, and then tell the group.
- Do a 'speaking circle' or 'table topics', where each person talks about a topic chosen by group for one or two minutes.
- Role-playing. Try various situations, such as ordering in a café, asking for a train ticket, job interviews or making phone calls, with people sitting with their backs to one another. Practise making a complaint or arranging a restaurant booking over the phone, for example.
- Debate a particular subject, setting ground rules first to keep it friendly.
- Make a list of ridiculous or intriguing questions that members have to pick from a hat and answer spontaneously.
Social events are always another great way to bond and get to know each other. Go for a coffee, a drink, a walk, a picnic, or a museum, for example.
Meeting other people who stammer can be life-changing, and stammering groups are a brilliant way to do this. Groups need your support, so take a look and see if there's one near you on our Local Groups page. There's also details on how to set up your own group and we're here to help. Contact Vee by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and she'll support you all the way.