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Connecting with TALK

11 July 2008

People with aphasia from Connect worked with TALK Surrey to demonstrate how people with aphasia can have conversations together.

TALK is a voluntary organisation which enables people with aphasia to practise their communication skills. People with aphasia attend TALK sessions where, within a group setting,  they are supported by a trained volunteer to practise their conversation. TALK invited Connect to help them find out more about how to enable people with aphasia to communicate more with each other during a group session.

The process began by a number of volunteers from the TALKgroups (TALK Walton, TALK Ashford, and the Guildford Afternoon Group) attending our  ‘Develop your communication skills and make a difference’ course, a practical day to increase skills and confidence.

Then  several of the leaders and volunteers from the TALK groups visited the conversation groups at Connect. Connect worked with the group facilitators to develop resources and support them in introducing ‘conversation’ into the range of group activities they held. TALK participants felt really strongly about the value of seeing and experiencing these conversation groups. “I’ve learnt so much seeing what you do” said one volunteer

On two separate visits to the groups in Surrey, Sally and six facilitators with aphasia demonstrated how groups led by aphasia actually works.

Each session started with a brief introduction: introductions, the aim of the session being to promote conversation, and an overview of the facilitation skills the facilitators-with-aphasia, would lead with. The facilitators then worked in groups of two or three to take a small group. TALK volunteers were encouraged to sit back and observe, though this was not without challenge! Just try listening in on a conversation and resisting that urge to join in! The small groups had ‘topics’ (either travel or food) with a range of resources to support. However, in the best fashion of most conversations, conversation developed in different directions, one thing led to another, and conversations went their own way – one group ended up discussing universities!

There was lots to learn from this trial session, not least the importance of the shape of the table and the timing of the session, but most of all learning a new way of working, with people with aphasia steering the conversation. TALK volunteers really valued the opportunity to see a demonstration of people with aphasia having a less passive role and taking more initiative themselves. Several volunteers learnt that quiet periods in a conversation are OK as it's a good time to gather thoughts. Above all the visit provoked much thought and discussion.

'it has been the catalyst that we both hoped for', said one group leader. 'It gets the thinking going. This is the value of a real experience as against reading about it. Thank you and your facilitators for it”

If you would like Connect to visit your setting please contact Carole Pound on 020 7367 0840.

Connect visit to Talk

TALK Surrey

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