Past events


Twelve Speak With IT volunteers attended our recent successful Training Day held in Wakefield, ten of whom were new volunteers who have recently joined us from Leeds, York and Harrogate. Everyone was very enthusiastic about becoming or being a volunteer for SpeakwithIT.

The training day was led by recently appointed Chief Executive Officer for Speak With IT Carl Palay. The day started with Carl describing his experiences as a volunteer in Leeds for the past 18 months and he discussed some of the issues faced by our volunteers when working with clients with aphasia. A significant amount of time was then spent teaching the new volunteers what the charity expected of them, best practices, and general information to ensure all the volunteers would be working with our clients in a uniform manner. This was followed by a description of how to plan and structure a client visit and the required actions that must always be taken as part of each visit. Carl explained that the best results are only achievable when our clients work on the exercises regularly and Carl demonstrated reporting and also some useful data-analysis techniques. Carl also provided real-world examples of how he had worked to motivate some of his clients.

This was followed by a demonstration by Carl using StepbyStep, one of the software programs we currently use with our clients. The volunteers, using the laptops provided, produced some personalised exercises for potential clients to include members of their family or subjects personal to them. The report functionality was also covered.

Carl also gave a brief overview of React2, another program we are currently using. This will be the subject of a second Training Day in the near future.

Carl covered the fact that we are not limited to using these two programs as there is a lot of software available today which can be used on laptops and tablets which is an area Speak With IT is looking into for our clients.

There was plenty of opportunity for our volunteers to network and we have received the following comments from them since:

‘I thoroughly enjoyed the training session in so many ways. Carl’s presentation style, pace and content were just perfect for where I was at.  I learnt so much that day. Finally the venue just made the whole thing come together to make it a great learning opportunity. Thanks to everyone who organised such a useful and interesting session.’

‘I found the training day as excellent day to meet with new Speak With IT volunteers. I found the experience related scenarios very useful and helpful.’

‘I felt the length of the session was just right.’

‘I thoroughly enjoyed the training session, organisation, location and attention to detail which was so well organised that you definitely felt part of something bigger or on the threshold of something bigger to come’.

‘As for the presentation itself, this was well put together and it helped me understand a lot more about the charity and the computer software as a whole.’

The Palay Conference held at York University on Friday 12 September 2014

The Palay Conference held at York University
on Friday 12 September 2014

Speak With IT was invited to have a stand at this prestigious Conference. Our stand was manned by volunteers Sue Lally, Tina Hutchings and Sean Kavanagh who handed out lots of SpeakwithIT leaflets and raised £51 for our funds by having a raffle.

Peter and Pip Garside accepting a cheque from Irene Cowie, a member of Wetherby Countrywomen's Association

Peter and Pip Garside accepting a cheque from Irene Cowie, a member of Wetherby Countrywomen’s Association

Presentation of cheque to SpeakwithIT from Harrogate MG Club

Presentation of cheque to Speak With IT from Harrogate MG Club
Pip Garside, Roger Baker, Peter Garside

Presentation of cheque to Speak With IT from Royal Wharfedale Lodge at Otley Pip Garside, Peter Garside, John Webb and David Round

Presentation of cheque to Speak With IT from Royal Wharfedale Lodge at Otley
Pip Garside, Peter Garside, John Webb and David Round

Speak With IT Training Day on Saturday 19th October 2013 at Wakefield

Michelle and Carl

Michelle Ruddock and Carl Palay

Speak With IT held a very successful training day for our Volunteers. The training was led by Volunteers Carl Palay and Michelle Ruddock and was attended by ten new Volunteers all from the Leeds/Harrogate area.

Carl opened the session by giving a useful insight into visiting a Speak With IT client, followed by software overviews of the two programs we use (StepbyStep and and a short demo of each. Michelle explained the Exercise Selection Guide for use with a new client who wants to use StepbyStep.

The Volunteers then worked through the Software Guidelines Manual at their own pace. There were several Trustees/Volunteer on hand if needed. Everyone was very enthusiastic about the training and working  for SpeakwithIT. It was an excellent opportunity for everyone to network.

Comments from Attendees


Volunteers, hard at work

From Alana – a new Volunteer for Harrogate, I found the training extremely beneficial. It was great getting to meet fellow SLT students and others from such varied backgrounds.

From Matthew – a new Volunteer for Leeds/Bradford, The day was really helpful and it was great to get a sense of the organisation and the other volunteers.

From Sue – Trustee and Volunteer for York – “It was good to see so many new volunteers attending. I thought Carl (who has only been volunteering for a short time) & Michelle (who is Aphasic herself) did a terrific job. I hope we will continue to have Network days in the future, so everyone is kept in the loop.





A new charity which aims to help stroke survivors across Yorkshire was launched by Look North presenter Harry Gration at Headingley Stadium, Leeds on Thursday 26 April. Around 250,000 people in the UK have problems with speaking, writing, or understanding language as a result of stroke.

Speak With IT uses technology in the form of specially produced software and volunteers to support people affected by aphasia, a devastating condition which often occurs after a stroke or brain injury. The software is designed to enable sufferers to gain confidence, feel less isolated and get back out into the broader community.

Working with Speech and Language Therapists, SpeakwithIT supplements their work with patients, and supports them after speech therapy has come to an end.

The launch was well attended by over 80 people – professional NHS and private Speech and Language Therapists, sponsors who have supported Speak With IT in the previous 12 months, friends who have raised money for Speak With IT and current users of Speak With IT.

As guests arrived there were demonstrations of StepbyStep and React2 aphasia software by current users of the software with volunteers. Laptops were also positioned around the room for guests to try out the software for themselves.

One of Simon's slidesSpeakwithIT Joint Secretaries and Trustees  Simon and Lesley Benneworth from Leeds gave a presentation of StepbyStep. Simon told his story of how he used to own a haulage company when he had a stroke 10 years ago. He was paralysed down one side and had virtually no speech.

Thankfully he heard about StepbyStep aphasia software and, by using the software for the past 4 years each day (even Christmas Day), he has regained his speech. He is now able to ask his wife (Lesley) if she would like a cup of tea and, if she says yes, he goes to make it! More importantly he is now able to request a pint of Theakstons! Simon then explained how he and Lesley have helped to set up SpeakwithIT to help other people.

Everybody was very moved by Simon’s story and gave him a standing ovation. Michelle Ruddock, a Speak With IT Trustee from York, spoke about the meaning of aphasia. She herself had a stroke which has left her with aphasia and it has changed her life completely. Michelle now helps a friend to use StepbyStep and his speech has improved in just 1 year.

Gill Carter, a Speak With IT Trustee also from York, spoke about the aims of Speak With IT and how she wished this support had been available 6 years ago when she had a stroke. Loud clapping ensued for them both after their speeches.

The Toastmaster, Clair Bostel, then introduced Harry Gration who said how impressed and humbled he was by what Speak With IT is doing in Yorkshire and wished us all the best for the future. He then officially launched Speak With IT by cutting a specially produced Speak With IT cake.

Peter Garside from Bishop Monkton, Harrogate, Chairman of SpeakwithIT, who himself had a stroke 12 years ago thanked Harry for his kind words, thanked the sponsors who have supported SpeakwithIT and the friends of SpeakwithIT who have raised money for us over the past year. He thanked his fellow Trustees and Committee Members for their hard work and finally, but not least, he thanked everyone for coming.

After lunch a presentation was given by Dr Rebecca Palmer from the University of Sheffield who is leading a work package on rehabilitation and technology within the stroke theme of South Yorkshire. The project showed that people did benefit from the use of StepbyStep software with the help of a volunteer

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