Nick Smith MP dealt with a bunch of comedians in Parliament this week – and this time they weren’t on the Government benches.
The Blaenau Gwent MP was the Master of Ceremonies at Voice Box, a joke-telling competition for youngsters whose finals took place at Westminster.
Joined by comedian Lee Mack, the competition was a joint initiative by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists and The Communication Trust designed to raise awareness of the importance of communication.
According to the RCSLT, communication disability is the most common disorder seen in childhood, affecting up to one in 10 children.
Being on hand to congratulate winner Jack Johnson, 7, Mr Smith said: “As a former Director at the RCSLT, I got to see first-hand some of the good work being done to raise awareness that some children need early help with communication.
“My own jokes are more likely to be greeted with tomatoes than applause, so it was great to see these young children have the confidence to deliver theirs in front of a big audience.
“A big well done to Jack and everyone else involved today.”
RCSLT CEO Kamini Gadhok said: “The aim of Voice Box is to remind people that in every classroom, there are children who need support to help them speak and understand what is being said to them.
“We are very pleased that Westminster provided a platform to support this important issue. It’s been a brilliant day and Jack and his fellow finalists have been inspiring.”
Lee Mack said: “It was great to meet the kids and judge the Voice Box final at the Houses of Parliament.
“ I was expecting tears and tantrums but luckily all the MPs were very well behaved. I was pleased to see such an important and worthwhile cause as communication needs given a platform at Westminster. I definitely think my job is under threat by this new wave of comedians.”
The winning joke by Jack was: “There was a mummy balloon, daddy balloon and a baby balloon. They all slept in the same bed. Then daddy balloon said, “You’ll have to sleep in your own bed now, you’re too big”. Baby balloon didn’t want to sleep in his own bed so in the middle of the night, he went into mummy and daddy’s bedroom and tried to get into bed, but he couldn’t fit. So he let some air out of his dad, but he still couldn’t fit. Then he let some air out of his mum but he couldn’t fit. So he let some air out of himself. In the morning his dad said, “You didn’t just let me down, you let your mum down, but most of all you let yourself down!”
About the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists
The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) is the professional body for speech and language therapists in the UK, representing more than 15,000 members. It facilitates and promotes research into the field of speech and language therapy– the care for individuals with communication, swallowing, eating and drinking difficulties. It promotes better education and training of speech and language therapists and is responsible for setting and maintaining high standards in education, clinical practice and ethical conduct. The RCSLT’S Giving Voice campaign is highlighting the importance of speech and language therapy by sharing the life-changing stories of those who have benefited from treatment and by demonstrating evidence of speech and language therapists’ efficiency and value for money. For more information on RCSLT and Giving Voice visit www.rcslt.org and www.givingvoiceuk.org
About The Communication Trust
The Communication Trust is a coalition of nearly 50 leading voluntary sector and community-based organisations with expertise in speech, language and communication. We support the children’s workforce and commissioners to meet the speech, language and communication needs of all children and young people. We do this by raising awareness, influencing policy, promoting best practice among the children’s workforce and commissioning work from our members.
In 2011 the Trust ran the Hello campaign (national year of communication) in partnership with Jean Gross in her role as the Government’s Communication Champion for children. The Trust works extensively with partners including the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT), Achievement for All, Council for Disabled Children, Early Support Programme and specialists across early years, schools and youth justice. For more information, visit www.thecommunicationtrust.org.uk
Picture: Geoff Wilson