Brave Fiona is speak­ing up for peo­ple who stam­mer

Cam­paign to raise aware­ness

Hamilton Advertiser - - ALL ABOUT LANARKSHIRE - Shirley Bar­tynek

A Hamil­ton woman, who has been stam­mer­ing since she was seven, has re­leased a pow­er­ful video con­fronting some of the tough­est chal­lenges peo­ple who have a speech im­ped­i­ment have to face.

Fiona Mo­ran, a cler­i­cal as­sis­tant with South La­nark­shire Coun­cil, re­leased the film as part of a hard­hit­ting cam­paign by the Scot­tish Stam­mer­ing Net­work show­ing the real af­fects of stam­mer­ing.

The mum-of-three joined the sup­port group in 2012, and for the first time met oth­ers who stam­mer.

She said: “School was al­ways dif­fi­cult as I strug­gled to speak. Other chil­dren made fun of me.

“I had a tal­ent for lan­guages but didn’t pur­sue be­yond ‘O’ level as I didn’t see how I would get a job speak­ing an­other lan­guage when I couldn’t even speak English flu­ently.

“I didn’t speak to any­one about my stam­mer, in­clud­ing my fam­ily, and it was al­ways the ele­phant in the room.

“I con­tin­ued to have no con­trol over my stam­mer un­til I was preg­nant with my first child.

“I re­alised that I needed to gain con­trol to min­imise the risk of my new baby stam­mer­ing.

“I am now a covert stam­merer and use var­i­ous breath­ing and word switch­ing tech­niques to hide my stam­mer.

“I slowly learned to talk about my stam­mer to my fam­ily, friends and col­leagues and am now open about my stam­mer.”

The cam­paign, called #Hearthep­er­son, com­prises six short films and con­fronts some of the tough­est chal­lenges peo­ple who stam­mer have to face. Stam­mer­ing is often treated as a dis­abil­ity peo­ple are still al­lowed to mock, with TV and film often char­ac­ter­is­ing peo­ple who stam­mer in a neg­a­tive way.

Peo­ple who stam­mer can re­ceive abuse on a daily ba­sis.

The Scot­tish Stam­mer­ing Net­work re­ports that many of its group mem­bers have faced ridicule at work, at school and par­tic­u­larly on­line.

This can have a huge im­pact on con­fi­dence and self-es­teem.

The Scot­tish Stam­mer­ing Net­work – a char­ity reg­is­tered in Scot­land – gained back­ing from the Big Lottery Fund to pro­duce the dig­i­tal cam­paign.

And #Hearthep­er­son aims to stand up to the bul­lies by giv­ing in­di­vid­u­als a voice.

The Scot­tish Stam­mer­ing Net­work is the only char­ity in Scot­land to pro­vide free sup­port to peo­ple who stam­mer and will hold an open day in Glas­gow City Cen­tre on Oc­to­ber 20, from 10am to 4pm in the Teacher Build­ing.

In the sec­ond of the six videos, Fiona, whose stam­mer made life for her grow­ing up ex­tremely dif­fi­cult, reads an open let­ter to her fam­ily of the things she wishes they had told her when she was a child.

In the emo­tional film, she says: “Please talk about my stam­mer, it’s not a se­cret any­way, you can hear it ev­ery time I speak. Please tell me it’s OK to stam­mer and noth­ing to worry about. Please tell me I’ll make friends who won’t care if I stam­mer or not.”

James Ste­wart, chair of the Scot­tish Stam­mer­ing Net­work, and star of one of the six short films, said: “Stam­mer­ing is a con­di­tion that is often over­looked in so­ci­ety and as a con­se­quence peo­ple who stam­mer can strug­gle to have their voice heard.

“There is lit­tle aware­ness from the gen­eral pub­lic about what stam­mer­ing is, and the dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences it can have on some­one’s life.

“Through our #Hearthep­er­son cam­paign we aim to change this.

“Our cam­paign will high­light the per­son be­hind the stam­mer and bring to the fore their re­al­life ex­pe­ri­ences, told in their own words.”

In­spi­ra­tional Fiona Mo­ran

Aware­ness Fiona ap­pears in the Scot­tish Stam­mer­ing Net­work’s video cam­paign

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