The British Stammering Association (BSA) launched Stamma, a major campaign to reposition stammering as a serious issue and to challenge existing misconceptions of the condition.
YouGov polling showed over half of those surveyed mistakenly believed that a stammer is caused by nerves and more than one 1 in 4 (27%) said that they would feel comfortable hearing a joke about stammering.
Jane Powell, CEO, the British Stammering Association said:
“Our own survey with BSA members shows that the lack of knowledge, empathy and the negative stereotypes about stammering can blight the lives of people who stammer, affecting their confidence, career expectations and mental health.”
“99% of BSA members surveyed had felt ashamed of stammering. 60% had been bullied because of it, 57% said it had impacted their career and 15% felt suicidal.
“It is time to take stammering seriously. It isn’t funny and people who stammer shouldn’t be written off as unintelligent, nervous or untrustworthy.”
Stammering affects up to 1.5 million adults in the UK. Primarily a neurological and hereditary condition, stammering is an intense physical struggle to get words out, profoundly different from the usual hesitations and repetitions everybody experiences.
The Stamma campaign posters show the words ‘I Stammer’ in a disruptive, blocked and extended format, visually illustrating the speech of someone who stammers. Set within this text are messages from real people who stammer, such as ‘I’m not nervous’ and ‘Don’t hang up on me.’ The campaign is supported by BSA Patrons, including Ed Balls, Dame Margaret Drabble, David Mitchell and Scroobius Pip, all of whom stammer.
BSA Patron Ed Balls said:
“When I was an MP my colleagues in Parliament and the media sometimes mistook my stammer for nerves or a lack of conviction. It was very frustrating but I learned that to be open about my stammer took the pressure off me and helped them understand. I hope this campaign will help many more people understand what a stammer is all about so that more people who stammer are able to make the most of their talent and potential.”
Abed Ahmed, BSA Trustee, Supporter and Teacher, Washwood Heath Academy, Birmingham said:
“Being bullied, teased or simply not being given the time to say what they want, all contribute to a student feeling that their opinions don’t matter. It’s awful to think that children are limiting their dreams for the future based on the ill-informed opinions of others.”
The eye-catching campaign is designed to dispel the common misconceptions around stammering and encourage those who stammer to share their own stories and join the campaign.
Stamma digital poster sites will be going up across the UK including locations such as London Euston Station and Glasgow’s St. Enoch Centre.