Auditory Verbal UK wants to ensure that every one of the estimated 7,200 deaf children under the age of 5 in the UK have the opportunity to access auditory verbal therapy close to their home. In order to achieve this it is the responsibility of Communications and PR to reach the general public through our media channels, as well as to ensure MPs, decision makers and interested parties are appraised of the work being done by AVUK; and to remain a key source of knowledge of issues facing deaf children by sharing the latest evidence and case studies to as wide an audience as possible. To demonstrate how the team has managed to continue this important work, and so much more during a period of working from home, join us for ‘A Day in the Life’ with the Communications and PR team.

Jane Warriner, AVUK’s PR Manager, is responsible for delivering AVUK’s PR and media strategy. This includes building AVUK’s reputation and ensuring effective media coverage, pitching stories, writing press releases and building strong relationships with journalists and families. Here she takes you through a day in her shoes.

Since everyone at AVUK started working from home in mid-March, I like many have adjusted to the new normal in phases. I’ve moved from the cooking, baking, eating and drinking phase to now using that extra time to do some more exercise for my mind and body.

This morning I started the day at 7am with a 5km run which I enjoyed (once I’d finished!) Before returning for the first of too many coffees and setting up my work station in the lounge. I like to be in the centre of the house with regular check-ins (usually involving coffee) from my partner who is also working at home elsewhere and (not too early of course) visits from the teenagers often looking for food.

If I do need to concentrate, I’m lucky I also have a quiet space to escape to but I’m a sociable person (many would say talkative!) which is why I work in communications.

My work day always starts between 8.30 and 8.45am with “Horizon Scanning” where I check out news and social media stories which may affect us or that we could respond to. Then, as per the new normal, I moved onto a 9am Zoom meeting – and excitingly this was with our counterparts from auditory verbal charities in Australia and New Zealand. Our communications team are gleaning ideas from them about our fundraising event Loud Shirt Day which they have been hosting for many more years than us and which due to the pandemic we postponed from our normal date in June to October – the same date in Australia and New Zealand.

Meeting done – more coffee (avoiding the biscuit tin with the run fresh in my mind) and then a catch up on emails. Currently I’m focusing on building up our case studies database of both the children we have helped and the health and education professionals we are training to ensure more deaf children can access auditory verbal therapy in the future. It’s lovely to hear first-hand how we have changed the lives of families with deaf children (https://www.avuk.org/onnas-story), as well as why professionals decided to start training.

The Government host a number of All Party Parliamentary Groups which are informal cross-party groups of members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. APPG members meet to discuss a particular issue or concern and explore relevant issues relating to their topic and today was the newly formed APPG on SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities). Usually held at the Houses of Parliament but as per the world in general today’s event was on Zoom.

The group discussed the impact of coronavirus, and in particularly the lockdown, on children with SEND and launched an inquiry into the issue. Discussion centred around the reduction in support during lockdown and huge concerns over the mental health of children with SEND, missing their usual support and schooling and the planned return to school in September.

As PR Manager my role is to continually look at ways in which we can promote and communicate the work that AVUK does. So during the session I keep an eye on the Twitter feed to see how and if we should be part of the conversation.

Today we also hosted an online event for families to celebrate the amazing achievements of the last few months. It’s a great chance to see families in the flesh and for me to catch up with parents I’ve spoken to via email and the phone and also identify potential new stories as well as letting them know that although we can’t and haven’t been able to be with them physically, we can be there virtually.

 

Chelsie Nicholls is AVUK’s Communications and Marketing Manager and is responsible for delivering AVUK’s marketing and communication strategy. This includes promoting digital events, producing a range of marketing materials, leading on the creation of content for various marketing channels, managing the website and sending out communications to different audiences. Here she takes you through a day in her life.

At 8.30am, I log in and run through notes before meeting with First Voice Network to discuss our plans for Loud Shirt Day on 23rd October. Loud Shirt Day (23rd October) allows us to get loud to give more deaf children the opportunity to listen and speak as equals alongside their hearing peers.

After this it’s time for a debrief with the team. We make take-away actions from the meeting and then it’s time for me to catch up with Alex, our brilliant Communications and Operations Officer.

I check our social media channels throughout the day and schedule posts for the days ahead.

The rest of the day is now focused on the preparations for the celebration event. The event is an opportunity to celebrate everything the children have achieved during the last few months. We will be celebrating families who have come to the end of the programme and are graduating and we will also be celebrating families who have just joined or are currently on the programme and taking their first steps towards listening and spoken language. We will also be joined by parent graduate families of children who came to AVUK when they were younger and are now in Primary school and beyond. They will be sharing their experiences of having their child in school and you will be able to hear first-hand from their children.

After lunch, it’s back to work. I’m busy tweaking the fundraising pages on our website as well as going through the Loud Shirt Day assets and getting them ready to share as downloadable resources.

At 7pm, I log back on to send last minute invites to the Celebration event and make sure we’re set up on the technical side. Then I feel like I can relax as the Celebration event begins to run smoothly.

When the celebration event is over it’s time to log off and watch some TV before heading to bed!

 

Sophie Buckmaster is part-way through an eight week Communications and PR internship with AVUK, in partnership with University of Sussex.

I get up at 8.30am (after ignoring my alarm for half an hour!) and make myself some breakfast and a cup of tea before I get ready to start my working day.

Then I log on and as I was off last week, I have a lot of emails to catch up on. I spend half an hour reading through these and replying to any that are important.

After this, it’s time for a catch up with Alex, our Communications and Operations Officer. He catches me up on the things that I missed last week and we put together a plan for the next few days. My internship with Auditory Verbal UK is only 8 weeks long, but I’ve already been able to get involved with some really exciting projects.

One of the projects that I’ve been working on at the moment is helping to write some new case studies for our website. So, this morning I got in contact with one of our graduate families and it was really lovely to hear about the positive impact that Auditory Verbal therapy has had on their lives.

I also helped Chelsie, our Communications and Marketing Manager, by proofreading our social media posts that are scheduled for next week and making any changes.

I started my internship remotely, so making time to get to know people in the team has been really important. Once a week I meet with Rachel, our Research Intern, for lunch (over skype!) so that we have a chance to catch up.

For the rest of the day, I focus on creating various content for the website. We’re currently writing a piece about our partnership with the University of Sussex internship scheme, so I start writing about my own experiences on the scheme and my time with AVUK.

At 5pm, I log off and tidy my things away so that my room looks less like an office! I usually go for a walk, to try and improve my embarrassingly low step count, before I relax in the evening.

 

Alex Kewn is AVUK’s Communications and Operations Officer, responsible for AVUK’s internal communications while further assisting and leading on all areas the team works on:

By this point in your reading it will be abundantly clear to you that the work of the communications team at AVUK has in no way been stifled by the need to work from home. On the contrary, it has inspired us to be innovative in our approach to collaboration from within and without, bringing us closer together as we attempt to offer the same level of support to each other in these troubling times as we do the children we work with.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a morning person, but there are some days where even I will jump out of bed and this was one of them. As previously mentioned by Jane and Chelsie, we have been fortunate enough to collaborate with auditory verbal partners in Australia and New Zealand on our annual fundraising event Loud Shirt Day. Historically we’ve had the good fortune of the support of celebrities such as Usain Bolt, Maisie Williams, and Dame Evelyn Glennie, as well as a raft of schools, businesses and individuals who share our belief that every deaf child should enjoy the same opportunities as hearing children. This years’ celebration will be my third, and I couldn’t have been more enthusiastic to log-in to Zoom at 9am to discuss ideas for our biggest and best yet with like-minded people all the way on the other side of the planet.

 

Afterwards it was time to move on to my weekly 11am meeting with Chelsie, AVUK’s Communications Manager, where we catch each other up on where we are with various projects. Today we focused on discussing potential new tools for creative projects such as the design of posters, videos and other branded communications.

During this period of working from home it is so vitally important to have regular catch ups with various members of staff to not only catch each other up on various pieces of work, but to check-in on a human level, ensuring that everyone is as comfortable and supported as possible. Our daily 1pm lunch-time meetings offer the perfect opportunity to do this, and touch base with others in the organisation that we don’t necessarily work with on a daily basis.

The rest of my day involved putting together a plan for two new case studies aimed at highlighting the experience of families at AVUK whom have taken advantage of our bursary scheme, which provides varying levels of financial support to those who need it, and helps ensure that deaf children have every opportunity to access auditory verbal therapy (AVT). Working on communications like this, and then getting it out on our website and social media channels is my favourite part of the job. It’s so important that we spread the word about how transformative AVT can be to the lives of deaf children, and I’m proud to spend my days doing just this.