Growing up I always aspired to work in a role supporting young people whether that be as a teacher, a social worker or in a residential setting. However, I also grew up with a profound stutter. Despite support and encouragement from family, these two things appeared impossible to go hand in hand. I never felt like I would be able to be a teacher, social worker or residential support worker when I often struggled to say my own name. I felt destined to be in a mind-numbingly dull office job sat behind a computer all day and going through life speaking as little as possible.
This was until I joined the McGuire Programme in 2017, aged 21 having just graduated from University. From the first day of my debut course I knew that if I worked hard at it, I could take control of my stutter. I saw how in control the Regional Director, Course Instructors, Coaches and Graduates were. And to tell you the truth, I wanted a piece of the action!
The last three years have been a journey. I’m not going to sit here and tell you it’s easy because it’s not. But nothing worth having in life comes easy. It’s hard work – that’s a fact. If you put in the hard work however, you will reap tremendous rewards.
What is my ‘tremendous reward’ I hear you ask? Well, I am not working in an office job. I sit here, typing to you nearly three years after my first course, having just come home from a hard day as a team leader in a children’s home.
Doors are no longer closed to me, and that is thanks to the McGuire Programme. The Programme has allowed me to take control of my life, and live a life that I want to live and not just a life that I feel I am able to live.
Not only, am I able to work in a job that I’ve always aspired to work in but I and my employer both see my stutter as a positive. Yes, you read that correctly. And, no your eyes are not deceiving you. My stutter is my superpower (I’m not quite as cool as Batman though sadly)! Having a stutter has taught me empathy, resilience, and hard work. And through the McGuire Programme, I have been taught that a door is never closed – it may be hard to open but give it a hard push and you will open it. In my job, this is a hugely important message to get through to the young people in my care. In fact, after I disclosed to my employer in my interview and was open and honest about working on my stutter, he told me that it was a major reason in deciding to hire me.
Luke Birtwistle – UK