Friday, 20 January 2012

Guest slot, Jean Gross CBE

It’s been a busy week, publishing a final report on my work as Communication Champion and talking to journalists and on the radio about my findings. As always, some of the media picked up on the less important messages and were less interested in the very serious issues of cuts to front-line services - but not all. I hope the publicity will do a little good.

It’s time, then, for me to ‘sign off’ as Champion. It has been a wonderful two years. I have seen fantastic practice in everything from baby groups to schools to young offender institutions. I’ve seen people everywhere get behind the Hello campaign with energy and creativity that no-one could have expected, given that many of those involved were uncertain whether they would still have a job in the future.

Highlights for me in the last weeks were the Hello Heroes event at BT Tower, a weekend with AAC users in Derbyshire, a visit to a language unit at Little Ridge School and visits to some really communication-friendly schools in Sheffield. And then , of course, there was being awarded a CBE in the New Year’s Honours list.

Getting an honour is a pretty random process and I have met so many people who deserve it a lot more than I do. But I was very pleased, especially with all the kind messages I got from people I have worked with. Thanks to you all for taking the time to write, and all those who sent the Trust a message to put in the big black memories book I was given as a leaving present. I will treasure that for ever.

People ask me what will happen now that I have stepped down. The answer is that the championing of SLCN will continue just as it did before the time-limited Champion role existed, through the highly effective lobbying work of The Communication Trust and the RCSLT. You can feel absolutely confident that a strong voice for children’s communication skills is still working hard to support all those children and young people everywhere whose needs still often remain unmet.

So good luck to the Trust for its future, vital work- and I wish all of you the very best for 2012 and beyond.

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