Empowering stammering community: The Stavengers' journey towards confidence

Published: 29th April 2024

At Harpenden Memorial Hospital, a group of patients and CLCH staff,  gather every two weeks to celebrate their resilience and strength. Welcome to "The Stavengers: Confidence Academy," a support group that is changing the narrative surrounding stammering.

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Founded by a team of dedicated professionals, including the group's lead therapist, "The Stavengers: Confidence Academy" was established with a sole purpose—to provide a supportive space for individuals referred to their service who stammer. Recognising the importance of camaraderie and shared experiences, the team sought to create an environment where members could interact openly and without judgment.

"At the heart of our group is the belief that stammering does not define us. I loved facilitating the Stavengers and supporting group members to share their experiences and reflections. As the sessions progressed, it was lovely seeing how the group bonded, supported, and learned from one another. A huge thank you to my colleagues Sarah Hinton and Kayleigh Schurer for their support in the process of setting up and running the group. It could not have been done without them", said Eve Mitterhuber, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist

The team allowed the group to choose its own name. Thus, "The Stavengers: Confidence Academy" was born—a name that reflects the resilience and camaraderie of its members.

Patient, Henry Mera said:

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"I discovered I wasn't alone in avoiding conversations, struggling to express myself clearly in crucial moments, or missing out on opportunities due to fear or embarrassment. Joining The Stavengers Academy was a turning point for me. Discovering a community of individuals navigating similar speech challenges brought a sense of belonging and understanding I'd longed for. I am grateful and give special thanks for the unwavering support and guidance from both Sarah Hinton (whom I’ve worked with in the past) and Eve Mitterhuber. Their help has been transformative, turning fear and doubt into determination and resilience. Guiding me towards a brighter, more confident future. Lastly, I’m proud to have met my fellow founding members of the Stavengers Academy. I appreciate the many months of working with you all, learning a lot from you,, and making new friends along the way"

But beyond the camaraderie lies progress. Attendees of "The Stavengers: Confidence Academy" were asked to complete the WASSP and the 4S scales - a measure of self-rating and self-stigma during the first and sixth group sessions. The results are nothing short of remarkable.


At the start of the group, the median score on the WASSP was 109, indicating a significant level of severity. By session six, this score had dropped to 92—a clear indication of improvement in various aspects of stammering. Similarly, the median score on the 4S scale decreased from 108 to 100, further highlighting the positive impact of the group.

Una McCann, Head of Clinical Services, Specialist Services, Herts said:
"Empowering stammering groups requires the dedication of compassionate staff, and the unwavering commitment of resilient patients. The Stavengers has this and more. I had the opportunity to sit in on this group and the support from all sides was outstanding, and the environment was calm and non judgemental".

Sarah Hinton, Clinical Lead Specialist for Adult Speech and Language Therapy said "This was a pilot study which gave a fantastic opportunity to our clinicans to run a group for people who stammer. The Speech and Language Therapists did a brilliant job oranising and runing the group and the outcomes are a testament to the dedication and resilience of our members. It's incredibly rewarding to see tangible progress and improvement in the members self-perception and confidence".

For those interested in joining "The Stavengers: Confidence Academy," the process is simple. Anyone referred to the Adult Speech and Language Therapy Service in West Herts with a stammer is invited to join the group. Patients can email team the team clcht.westherts.slt@nhs.net if they would like to join or find out more information.

With plans to start a new cohort in the coming months, the team are eager to welcome new members into the group.

As "The Stavengers: Confidence Academy" continues to grow and evolve the group is providing a platform for support and empowerment, it is not only changing lives but reshaping perceptions surrounding stammering—one meeting at a time.

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