Friday, 30 July 2010

We are the best! - Andrew Ball, Campaign Director

Good news, The Communication Trust consortium has been shortlisted for a Third Sector Excellence Award. The Trust is a finalist in the Charity Partnerships category, which is for partnerships between two or more charities that have enabled the partners more effectively to deliver services, communicate, reach new groups or reduce costs.

The award period covers the past 12 months, a year in which amongst other achievements we increased our income by 148%, saw our membership grow by 27%, successfully lobbied for an increase in communication awareness training for the youth justice workforce, developed a number of speech, language and communication units for the Qualification and Curriculum Framework and successfully bid to run the national year of speech, language and communication. All these and more realised great benefits for our members and more importantly for many of the millions of children and young people that struggle to communicate.

Being shortlisted is great external recognition and endorsement for the hard work of everyone involved with the consortium and in particular for the drive, vision and leadership shown by Anita Kerwin Nye to bring the consortium together and to keep it together. The Communication Trust is all about collaboration: we believe that working collectively and in partnership delivers the right results.

So, although we are delighted to have been shortlisted, we would also like to congratulate the other nominees (the Better Banking Coalition, Macmillan Cancer Support & Citizen’s Advice, Navca, the NCVO & the Public Law Project and St Mungo’s & Marie Curie Cancer Care) as partnership working in our sector is not an easy thing to do but it is an essential thing to do if we are going to deliver the change that our respective beneficiaries rely on us achieving – perhaps now more than ever.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Communicating about communication – easy right? – Laura Smith, Media and Campaigns Manager

Daniel Boorstin once said ‘Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers.’ It has always been ironic to me that my chosen profession - public relations– suffers from complete and utter misunderstanding amongst the wider public.

On saying I work in PR, I immediately get ‘So you are a spin doctor?’ or jealous exclamations of ‘I watched Ab Fab, wish I went out partying with celebs’. Erm, so do I!

PR is defined as ‘the practice of building mutual understanding and creating a dialogue between an organisation and its stakeholders’. Oooh fancy! Fundamentally it is about communication – the currency of the 21st century world. And whilst many can consign PR to celebrities, products and crisis management (BP anyone?), it is so so much more than that.

The irony increases that the thing I am passionate about ‘PR’ing’ is the overlooked, misunderstood and taken for granted subject of supporting children’s speech, language and communication needs. In the UK today, 2.7 million children are living with some form of communication difficulty. This can affect them severely and for life.

I am constantly reading about ‘children’s behavioural difficulties’, ‘youth reoffending rates rising’ or ‘young people lacking basic skills in the workplace’. The consequences of not supporting children’s communication are played out in front of us on a daily basis. But the fundamental link that ‘communication equals life chances’ has not yet permeated the public consciousness.

Why not? Because it is too simple to suggest communication is important? Too obvious to support parents and professionals in this area? Well, sometimes we need to shine a light on the simple things in life. Chatter really does matter. This is why 2011 will be a National Year of Speech, Language and Communication.

This year will not be a PR exercise based on column inches; it will be about affecting real change for thousands of children and families. It will be about listening to others and getting information directly into the hands of those who need it.

So to come back to Mr Boorstein’s quote – all children are born with great potential, children with communication difficulties can, with support and understanding, achieve greatness and too many are currently suffering in silence. Creating a seismic shift in the way this issue is understood really would be ‘absolutely fabulous’.

Want to find out more? Got a view on how we do it? Let us know at

Friday, 16 July 2010

Austerity we know what it means now let’s make it work - Guest slot, Cara Evans, Operations Director

I have to say if I see austerity in one more magazine article or on a newspaper article I may scream. We get it, we all need to tighten are belts, make the pennies go futher. I totally agree with that. What I want to see now is action not just talk. At the Trust we have been cost saving since day one, not only that we are building the capacity of our partners.

As you know The Communication Trust is a coalition. Having worked in the voluntary sector for 15 years there is nothing more depressing than seeing new charities set up when ones already exist and are doing a good job. Just having additional overhead costs that don’t need to exist is simply wrong. Don’t get me wrong if there is a need for an additional charity that meets the needs to the users I have no argument.

So how does a our coalition work? The Trust and its partners have a common aim, to help children and young people who need support with their communication. We employ a very small core team, for every project we assess what we can achieve within the core team, and when we need extra support we turn to our partners and commission them, identifying who has the best expertise to get the job done, paying them a fair rate. We share accommodation with one of founders, thus sharing overheads costs. We have jointly tendered and won contracts. We share marketing and publication costs.

We have built a considerable amount of trust in our members to ensure we have their interests at heart, but ultimately it is using the best resources in the most efficient way to help the children and their families who need it most.