A day for everyone - London Open Day 2016

London Open Day Organising Committee | 28.04.2016

The BSA London Open Day attracted over 100 participants. The Organising Committee (thanks to whose hard work it all happened) write about the day:

On Saturday 9th April, the BSA opened its doors at the Resource for London for another amazing, insightful, ‘day of discovery’ as described by BSA Chair Tim Fell. The day was a huge success, appealing to the whole of the BSA’s current membership and also (maybe even more importantly) to prospective members of the BSA and other interested parties. The day allowed for those from completely outside the ‘stammering bubble’ to learn more about the charity, engage in varied and exciting workshops and take something away from the six hours we all spent together.

Shelagh Fogarty, an inspiring radio presenter who presents the afternoon slot at LBC Radio opened the day with an engaging keynote speech, alongside some really interesting questions from the floor concerning a whole range of stammering based issues that people face on a day-to-day basis, as well as more specific points about how someone with a stammer could enter the world of broadcasting - and asking a crucial question as to why more people who stammer are not already in broadcasting? Attitudes need to change and awareness needs to spread, which makes these organised events ever so important for increasing the profile of our cause.

London Open Day participantsFollowing Shelagh, we broke up for the morning session of workshops. More than half of attendees enjoyed Nye Russell-Thompson’s ‘Just a few words’ one-man play after a few technical hitches, and there were workshops from the Michael Palin Centre for Stammering Children offering advice and guidance to parents of young people, and by Carolyn Cheasman from City Lit giving an introduction to mindfulness.

The lunch break was an excellent time for people to reflect on the first part of the day, mingle and enjoy a bit to eat. So wonderful to see everyone stepping out of their comfort zone and just stammering openly in a friendly, supportive and completely non-judgemental environment.

We all then jumped straight back into workshops following lunch, and what a wide variety of sessions we had, all thanks to those who had put themselves forward as workshop leaders via an application form a few months before. It was a difficult decision to choose the afternoon’s workshops as the Committee received so many amazing proposals. The afternoon workshops were a cross section of ideas and activities; the lighter side of stammering with Patrick, Lesley and Nisar, Dr Cameron Raynes speaking so passionately and even emotionally about his journey and writing (do check out Cameron’s new publication First Person Shooter), Sophie Mitchell, a trainee clinical psychologist giving her take on mental health which is such a topical issue right now, and last but by no means least Mike Wyatt and the dreaded job interview. Thankfully this workshop wasn’t dreaded and a light hearted and informative approach was taken to that nerve wracking situation we all find ourselves in!

Then arguably the most exciting, inspirational and heart-warming part of the day, the Open Mic session. As always, it’s a little hard to get the session warmed up but Patrick Campbell, ‘the compere’ and Julia Ammon our first speaker got things off to a flying start, after which we were inundated with requests to get up on the stage. Many congratulations to you all for taking yourselves outside of your comfort zone and doing the unreachable.

After Steven and Krishna’s plug to slip into Wetherspoons after the amazing day we’d all had, the day sadly drew to a close and we all piled into The Coronet pub to reflect.

Thank you to all of the people who attended the day, to the BSA staff for their invaluable support, the Resource for London team who supported the Organising Committee so well and to the Organisers for making it happen.

Should we have another event in 2017? Let the planning commence!

By Naheem Bashir, Amanda Littleboy, Velda Osborne, Rory Sheridan and Christine Simpson, London Open Day Organising Committee