It's one year on and our Live Loud! volunteers in Wales continue to make a real difference to people whose voices have been affected by Parkinson's.
Live Loud! is a volunteer led group that supports people with Parkinson’s whose voices have been affected by the condition and is the brain child of Parkinson's UK volunteer Eirwen Malin who has Parkinson's.
Described by those who know her as a great speaker and storyteller, Eirwen was conscious that her voice was becoming quiet and beginning to taper off and she wanted to do something to help others with similar experiences.
Kickstarting the project
The ability to communicate verbally is something that many people take for granted but over 80% of people with Parkinson's experience a voice or speech disorder, leading many to become less confident communicators.
A reduction in a person's ability to communicate can contribute to feelings of isolation which in turn has a huge impact on their quality of life.
In 2016, Eirwen approached her area development manager and Parkinson's local adviser with lots of ideas around how to kickstart a project to improve their communication skills. As a result, in November 2016 Live Loud! was born and offers fortnightly group sessions involving specific voice exercises and activities, discussions and readings, as well as opportunities to share tips among participants.
Eirwen and Phillip Thomas are the lead volunteers for the project. Eirwen says:
"Phil and I have enjoyed devising new activities to provide opportunities for participants to use their voices. We've learnt a lot as we've gone along and from other projects. We were fortunate enough to visit the Parkinson Voice Project in Dallas Texas in August and that has given us new ideas."
Making a difference
The volunteers really enjoy their roles as they are supporting people directly and are making a tangible impact which is very rewarding.
Eirwen has seen a positive impact on attendees:
"We can really see improvements in some people's confidence. For the Christmas session everyone is going to bring a poem, a song, a joke, a story or some sort of 'party piece' to read out or tell to the whole group. With some mince pies this should be lovely!"
Volunteers are critical to the success of Live Loud! and the project couldn’t run without them.
"We have a growing number of support volunteers. We enjoy the sessions and always come away feeling that we've been with friends and had a good time."
Suzanne Marchment, South Wales Area Development Manager, adds:
"It has been a huge privilege to see how people with Parkinson's have benefited from this project and are now more confident communicators and engaged in more activities within their communities and the activities of the Parkinson's community.
"We in the Local Development team are all really excited about the prospect of being able to roll this project out to other areas so that even more people with Parkinson's can benefit with Live Loud!"
Plans for the future
The South Wales Local Development team are planning to roll out the Live Loud! scheme to further areas of South Wales in 2018.