Cultural markers in the East of England

Category: Health

Donating this Autumn and Winter?

Here at ConsEast Towers we are already planning the new season voluntary and fund-raising support.

HandsUp banner image and web link

Discover thirty years of help here…

This year we are supporting St. Elizabeth Hospice in Ipswich. If you are within reach of the hospice, and have time and skills to help the team deliver this great, supportive work, then the web link below is for you.

Register as a potential volunteer with St Elizabeth Hospice here.

”We started thanks to the foresight and commitment of the local community and medical experts who laid the groundwork to open the hospice.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the then East Suffolk District Health Authority and other groups began discussions about establishing a hospice in east Suffolk. The Health Authority was unfortunately unable to fund the project so an appeal committee was formed.

In 1983, a public fundraising appeal was launched with the aim of raising £1 million”. Source: St Elizabeth web pages.

The rest, as they say is history. But you still have a chance to take part in this important service, and work with great people at St. Elizabeth Hospice as a volunteer.

Donate button and web link.

Give today. Thank you.

Help make the next thirty years count, just as much, by visiting the Hospice team here.

Click the donate button here, and give money today.


The conversationsEAST team, and SmithMartin LLP are proud to support the energy, effort and compassion of St. Elizabeth Hospice.

Write to the Hospice team here – St Elizabeth Hospice, 565 Foxhall Road, Ipswich, IP3 8LX

It’s never too early for a JDRF UK Christmas card!

It’s that time of year again. When we hope we are early enough to persuade you to buy your 2019 Christmas cards from JDRF.

JDRF Christamas card - image and web link

A great source of Christmas cheer and really useful seasonal giving…see more

This year, as well as the usual well designed, delightful cards, you can choose a virtual gift to support JDRF.

Every pound you spend helps support the work of JDRF in fighting type 1 diabetes.

You can find the JDRF card shop on-line here.

The JDRF Gift Packages enable you to select a gift to your value, so that your purchase has even more impact on the work of JDRF, our favourite charity.

How does it work?…

‘Select and order your gift. JDRF will send you a …pack containing a premium gift card that is blank for your own message and a brief description of your gift. We also include a letter from us explaining how this gift can help people with type 1, all wrapped up in a blue gift envelope. You can then personalise and send your gift to a friend or loved one’.

Find the JDRF Gift Pack shop pages online here.

Even before the snow has fallen, we wish you a very Happy Christmas – from all of us at conversationsEAST and SmithMartin LLP. We are proud to be continued supporters of JDRF.

About JDRF:

Supporting JDRF at Christmas...image and web link

Supporting JDRF at Christmas…

JDRF is the type 1 diabetes charity. We won’t stop until we create a world without type 1 diabetes.

We are committed to eradicating type 1 diabetes and its effects for everyone in the UK with type 1, and at risk of developing it.

To work towards a day when there is no more type 1 we:

• fund world-class research approved and administered by our international research programme to cure, treat and prevent type 1 diabetes

• make sure research moves forward and treatments are delivered as fast as possible.

• give support and a voice to people with type 1 and their families


Have a JDRF Christmas!

jdrf christmas 2016 image

Find out more about this great charity here…








We were thinking about our Christmas plans already in our Partnership offices and realised we hadn’t made contact over a busy summer with our favourite charity, JDRF and their great fund-raising team.

So to make amends we are broadcasting the ideal place for you to buy your 2016 Christmas cards and do a little good too. Buy early to avoid disappointment!

Give a life-changing Christmas card this forthcoming festive season.



Get involved here…

About JDRF

‘There are currently 400,000 people in the UK with type 1 diabetes, over 29,000 of them are children.

We are committed to eradicating type 1 diabetes and its effects for everyone in the UK with type 1, and at risk of developing it’. 

Source: JDRF web pages – Accessed 21.10.2016

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We support JDRF,
a great Type 1 Diabetes charity!

Cambridge Coffee Morning for JDRF

Date: Friday 2nd October

Time: 10am – 12.30pm

Venue: Girton College (The Old Kitchens)

Discvover JDRF on-line here...Come along and join us for this informal coffee morning, which will give you the chance to meet other families living with type 1 diabetes. You can find out more about the work of JDRF and the East of England Children and Young People’s Diabetes Network and to visit our our exhibitor stands.


At the event will hear about the new glycaemic targets from Matt Williams, and the role of the research nurse from Criona O’brien, diabetes research nurse at the University of Cambridge. So why not come along and join us.


emailIcon4  Email to book your place to attend.
(You can see a recent review of a JDRF Eastern Region conference here…Ed)
The team at conversations EAST are proud to support the team at JRDF…
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Understanding Autism?

Following our recent publication of last year’s review of the Unleashing Potential event, courtesy of Jennifer King FRSA and Sue Hind Wooodward FRSA, we are delighted to find that The University of Hertfordshire are delivering a short course, in May 2015, on the nature of Autistic Spectrum Condition.


Understanding the spectrum – a short course…


‘There will be parent perspectives, including the latest research and publications on new approaches to working with and assisting children with autism. If you are a parent or professional who works with people with autism eg Teacher, Teaching Assistant, SENCO, health and social care workers, this course is for you…’

The short course will take place over two mornings on May 5th and May 12th. Running from 09.30am to 12.30.

You can see more of the course detail on this University web page, including fees.

You can book on-line on the University’s Short Course Booking page here.

Jennifer and Sue’s call to action still holds good. The call for course attendees above at the University of Hertfordshire could be just the impetus needed to help carry forward the good work of the Unleashing Potential conference. Coagulating interest into a new project committee?

Read our original article here. Come on the Fellowship…can we hold another event in the region?



Unleashing Potential – Crucial Beginnings


Jenny King FRSA opens proceedings…

(A year has passed since the 2014 World Autism Day. We suspect that the clarity and depth of knowledge about  neuro-diversity still has a continuing development need across all our communities.

We publish below a review article of an event at the University of Hertfordshire, held a year ago. Jenny King FRSA ends the piece with a call for action – an opportunity to repeat and expand the work that was started at  this well attended and well received regional event.

If the filmic evidence and the narrative below inspire you to engage and help, do make contact with Jenny  and offer support for this important project…Ed.)


A review of an evening forum for local professionals in Health and Education held at the University of Hertfordshire April 2 2014, World Autism Day.

Aims in 2014:

  • To raise awareness of the talents and needs of high functioning neuro-diverse young children.

To clarify:

a) the best pathway to early diagnosis and

b) the most appropriate intervention from families and educators to maximise strengths and minimise challenging behaviour.

Objectives one year on in 2015:

  • To encourage Fellows to “roll out” similar events across the Country.

This unique Forum hosted by the University of Hertfordshire and the Royal Society of Arts, provided qualified practitioners in Health and Education an opportunity hear first hand information on young, high functioning neuro-diverse children and their traits and behavioural challenges. The aim was to facilitate conversation  on the need to recognise the potential in the children’s often exceptional talents, and focus on their needs. The chief of these to try to clarify a pathway to early diagnosis and consequent support.

Two hundred and fifty representatives from health and education were invited: GPs Paediatricians, Health Visitors, Clinical and Educational Psychologists, Occupational Therapists, Headteachers, SENcos – Nursery and Early years Managers, Family Support Workers, Counsellors, HomeStart, and support groups working specificially for Neuro-Diverse children, including members of the Hertfordshire County Council and East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust.

Two Fellows of the RSA, Jenny King and Sue Hind Woodward, put together this event after sharing a conversation at an RSA East Herts function dinner at Hatfield House about their concerns for the lack of recognition and support for the majority of young, high functioning neuro-diverse children. Those whose extraordinary gifts and talents could ultimately change the world, but whose extreme behavioural challenges prevented their recognition and progress.

Following the best tradition of the origins of the RSA in the coffeehouses in London in the 1700s, Sue and Jenny progressed their discussions at a Costa Coffee shop at a service station on the A1(!), halfway for both, against the clamour of travellers and fruit machines etc. Not quite the same cerebral atmosphere but nonetheless the idea was developed and they parted bent on growing their conversation to reach the people who could make a difference. Sue coined the phrase “Unleashing Potential – Crucial Beginnings” which encapsulated their aims.

Some research prior to the event showed that primarily there seemed to be a lack of knowledge of the traits of neuro-diversity e.g. Autistic Spectrum, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Bipolar and related difficulties. In particular even when the traits had been identified there was no clear route forwards to diagnosis. Getting help was a frustrating performance for parents trying to demonstrate that their child was challenging for a reason unconnected to their upbringing. Delays were up to two years for a first appointment with an NHS specialist.

Looking into the situation more closely it appeared that some GPs were unfamiliar with the traits of neuro-diversity and did not know where to start with a referral. Health Visitors, possibly with more involvement supporting low-functioning children with behavioural problems, tended to direct parents towards family counselling which implied failure in parental terms. Family Counsellors visited were often equally unsure about further diagnosis for the child. Some schools, already frustrated by the challenging behaviours exhibited by neuro-diverse children, were not always sympathetic and were not well informed about traits, or how to address the difficulties experienced, and the routes to follow for help.

With these discoveries, Sue and Jenny met with Lyn Bhania Senior Tutor in Education who takes a focus on Special Needs at The University of Hertfordshire. Lyn and her colleague Lewis Stockwell were invaluable in offering advice and support for the function and facilitating this at the University. Once the evening’s format was established, Jo Massie at the RSA proved invaluable in helping with administration, managing Eventbrite for ticketing etc.

Contacts were made and eminent Speakers invited on the topic, and a panel of experts to take Q & A. The University helped with their contact lists and specially designed invitations went by snail mail and email across the county. It was decided not to include parents of neuro-diverse children as owing to their frustrations and difficulties this could have brought controversy to a proceeding aimed at bridge building. Thus the event was strictly for professionals. However two of the main Speakers each had an autistic child, so parents were represented. Jenny King FRSA (a retired Headteacher with a specific interest in neuro-diversity) introduced the event with its aims and objectives.

This was followed by the Keynote Speaker, Dr. Simon Williams, PhD, FRSPH a former Research Fellow at Cambridge University, current Research Associate Feinberg School of Medicine, and a Fellow of The Royal Society of Public Health. His focus: Public Mental Health Policy and the Effectiveness of Early Diagnosis.

Dr. Williams travelled from the US to become the Keynote Speaker. He opened his talk by stating his wish to discuss a proposal for the introduction of school-based universal screening, for the early identification of risk of emotional, behavioural and mental health problems in children and adolescents. He would also discuss some evaluation research of a school-based counselling intervention, which could be a model for what post-screening targeted intervention would look like.

Dr. Williams went on to add that “in the long term, the spirit of ‘neuro-diversity’ urges us to reconfigure social and cultural institutions and customs such that neuro-diverse conditions are seen as normal variations in the human condition. To put it simply, the spirit of neuro-diversity urges that it is Society and not the individual that has, or causes, the ‘problem’.

Changing social and cultural perceptions and assumptions takes time. In the short term it is prudent to look at ways of improving current diagnostic and intervention processes. Doing so can reduce diagnostic delays and disparities and ensure that more children with ASD or ADHD for example, can access the support from which they could benefit. “

The content of Dr. Williams’ speech can be found on YouTube. Link given below. He covers:

  • Pre School Screening for ASD,
  • Universal emotional and behavioural mental health screening
  • School based Mental Health Intervention
  • Criticisms re: labelling and stigma, harmful false positives, opposition from parents, overburdening of health and educational services
  • An evaluation of school based mental health intervention

See the movie on YouTubeSee the original YouTube post here…

In conclusion, Dr. Williams explained that because no matter how effective the intervention is once the children are in the system, the problem is that so long as it relies on referrals it is likely that a substantial proportion of children with emotional and behavioural problems, particularly those with internalizing problems, will fail to be identified in the first place.

The second Speaker was Tom Purser of the National Autistic Society, who is their Policy and Participation Officer and also the parent of an Autistic child.

His subject was “The Expert Parent” in which he spoke of the difficulties that beset the parent and gave an overview of Autism in general.

To hear the content of this interesting and informative speech, demonstrating Tom Purser’s in depth knowledge of this topic, follow the Youtube link:

See the movie on YouTubeSee the original YouTube post here…

The third and final Speaker was Melanie Peeke, MA Oxon, who works with ADD-vance as a Specialist Trainer delivering workshops/courses for parents and teachers. Also Founder of “Spectrum Girls” social group for girls with High Functioning Autism. Melanie Peeke is the parent of a high functioning autistic daughter. Her talk was on The Empathetic Teacher.

Many of those listening to this talk, especially from the educational arena, found Melanie Peeke’s insights on appropriate school intervention strategies for young, high functioning neurodiverse children, helpful, positive, and relevant.

Following the Speakers was a half hour break for discussion and refreshment in the main Foyer. Groups assembled under “Muster Points” for their professional connection and questions were formed for the Panel in the second half.

The Panel Discussion was chaired by Sue Hind Woodward, stepping into the breach as John Cooper QC FRSA was delayed travelling to the venue.

The Panellists were:

  • Dr. Paul Bradley – Consultant Learning Disability Psychiatrist.
  • Julia Carmichael, Communication Disorders Team
  • Dr. Anna Dillon, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Challenging Behaviour Psychology Service
  • Claire Fitt – SenCo How Wood School
  • Ann Griffin – National Autistic Society/ harc
  • Lizanne du Plessis – Occupational Therapist, Author, Public Speaker
  • Dr. Peter Shilliday – GP . Senior Partner, Spring House Medical Centre WGC

To hear the panel Q&A with the audience, please see below.

See the movie on YouTubeSee the original YouTube panel session here.

Now approximately one year on from Unleashing Potential – Crucial Beginnings, the question is “What has been achieved”. Following the event the RSA launched a Survey Monkey from which many helpful comments were gleaned. On the whole the audience felt that questions pre-formed and directed at the Panel would have been useful. The interval mid-way had not been used by the audience to form these questions so perhaps there is a lesson learned here. Workshopping was suggested in any follow up event and this is a possibility for the future.

However on the positives, members of the audience felt they left better informed and with some determination to progress discussions in their own field towards creating better understanding for neuro-diverse young, high functioning children. There is some evidence that this is happening.

A call to action:

A year on from the function, Sue Hind Woodward and Jenny King feel that a second event in East Herts might be worth exploring.

However the purpose of this article is to ask whether you, as a Fellow, might be interested in continuing the conversation in your area? In East Herts the ball has started rolling, but there is no reason why events such as Unleashing Potential – Crucial Beginnings, cannot be “rolled out” across the country.

emailIcon4If you might be one of those to take up the baton – please don’t hesitate to contact Jenny King – who will supply all the details you might need to set up a similar event.

Jennifer King FRSA

Sue Hind Woodward FRSA


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