“I just wanted to do my bit!” – Catherine’s Story
As a newly qualified speech and language therapist, Catherine Sims knows all about the challenges that children with speech and language communication needs (SLCN) have. That’s why she decided to run the London Marathon for I CAN! See our full conversation below.
What was the inspiration behind your desire to run the London Marathon?
It was something I’ve always wanted to do and I’ve been a keen runner for quite a few years. I’ve ran half-marathons in the past and I just wanted to push myself a bit.
How is your preparation going for it?
It’s going really well! I’m quite fortunate because last year, I joined my local running club so I’ve had a lot of support and encouragement from them. In this training plan, I also haven’t had any injuries yet so at this stage, which is less than 4 weeks out from the marathon, I’m getting up to some really high mileage.
Physically, I’m in really good shape. Sometimes, it can be quite hard mentally as you might think you’ll never be able to reach those sorts of distances but it’s been going okay.
Why was I CAN the charity you wanted to fundraise for?
The reason I wanted to raise money for I CAN is that I’ve just recently qualified as a speech and language therapist! I can see the value of everything that I CAN does and I just wanted to do my bit!
To put things in perspective, I live in the South-West of England on the border of Cornwall and I’m actually struggling to find a position in speech and language therapy at the moment.
To bridge the gap, I’ve been volunteering at my daughter’s school and helping children with their speech and language communication needs (SLCN). However, the waiting list in this area for a child’s speech and language to be assessed is 18 weeks! The need is there but there is a massive gap in provision, funding and support.
The campaign I CAN’s doing with the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, Bercow: Ten Years On was also at the forefront of my mind and that’s something I wanted to support as well.
Everything that I CAN does – the profile-raising, the programmes etc really resonated with me and it’s why I’m so passionate about the issue!
Why do you think children who have a speech and language problem should be more of an important issue for parents and people more generally?
Unfortunately, speech and language isn’t something that everyone thinks of automatically but the implications of children with SLCN is quite significant. They may fall behind at school or not achieve what they’re capable of and that has a massive impact in later life; whether it be in getting the jobs they want, mental health implications or other consequences.
When I started fundraising for I CAN, I don’t think people I knew realised the impact of communication difficulties and what it means in children unless they’d experienced it for themselves and seen it first-hand.
What is the awareness level like for speech and language amongst parents in the school you volunteer at?
Schools are under a lot of pressure regarding funding so there’s a reduction in the amount of time children spend with speech and language therapists.
I volunteered because I have the skills that can help these children but there’s so many other priorities for families, sometimes the implications aren’t realised until its too late.
In your short time so far as a speech and language therapist, what has been the main issue you’ve encountered that would help you reach more of these children with SLCN?
The main issue is the lack of funding, either through more teaching assistants or speech and language therapists, if there was more resources, life would be a lot easier.
What do you hope to achieve through the Marathon and do you foresee yourself doing more challenges like this in the future?
Definitely! I’d quite like to do an ‘Ultra Marathon’ next.
For the London Marathon, I’ve got a time in mind I’d like to finish it in.
However, as it’s my first one, the main objective is just completing it for now but I know what I’m capable of!
Check out Catherine’s fundraising page and find out how you can donate here.