Help us make an impact with Talk about Talk
Talk about Talk is a training and tutoring programme provided by I CAN that develops young people’s communication skills. It supports vulnerable young people; those who are struggling to access training or employment, who may be excluded from education, or at risk of offending – many of these young people will have communication difficulties but often they won’t have been identified.
The programme enables young people, aged 14-25, to co-deliver communication awareness workshops to any organisation that may work with young people. that also includes organisations offering them employment or volunteering opportunities. It was developed as part of the five year Raising your Game project, funded by the Big Lottery. Recently we held the end of project event in the House of Lords where key findings and messages were disseminated to people working in this sector.
Talk about Talk is designed and co-delivered with young people which means that the content really reflects their experiences and the impact of having a communication difficulty. Through interactive activities and short films, participants are able to understand the types of difficulties young people may have and how they can support them. Young people bring the workshops alive with real life experiences, humour and first hand advice as to what helps them. Although only two hours long, the training has really made a difference to work practices – people are slowing down their speech and giving young people more time to consider their response, and information is being visually supported. One custody team have worked with their local speech and language therapy service to add visual support to their risk assessment to help young people understand more.
Over the course of the project, young people were trained and supported to co-deliver to 90 organisations across the six project areas. For all of the young people, it was the first time they had talked in front of an audience. One young person said, “my talking was good, it made me feel proud”.
Part of Talk about Talk is tutoring sessions with their adult co-trainer which supports young people to develop their communication skills – so it’s a combination of training and on-going tutoring. Our evaluation in partnership with the University of Sheffield showed this combination made a significant change in the confidence and communication skills in young people over time.
What was surprising though was that despite up to 90% of young people in the criminal justice system having communication difficulties, only 25% of all organisational participants had received training in communication difficulties, what they are, how they affect young people and what that would mean in a youth justice or employment environment. It seems that there is lots of need to reach out to more professionals and offer training in this area.
What now? Although the project has officially finished we have an exciting opportunity over the next year to work with five more organisations to develop their ability to support vulnerable young people’s communication skills. We will train and support three members of staff in the organisations to deliver the Talk about Talk programme. This will involve developing their knowledge about language and communication and supporting them to train and mentor young people so they have improved communication, and are able to deliver workshops to other adults.
To find out more about Raising Your Game visit www.mencap.org.uk/raisingyourgame
A blog from I CAN Communication Advisor, Liz Wood