On Thursday 23 June 2022, Julie Morgan MS, Deputy Minister for Social Services, visited Aberystwyth to see the county’s Communication Boards, the first of its kind launched in Wales. During 2021, Hywel Dda University Health Board, in partnership with Ceredigion County Council secured funding from Welsh Government’s Child Development Fund to create the boards.
Upon arrival, the Deputy Minister for Social Services was greeted by Councillor Catrin M S Davies, Ceredigion County Council Cabinet Member responsible for Culture, Leisure and Customer Services, and Delyth Raynsford, Independent Member of the Hywel Dda UHB, Children and Welsh Language Champion.
A presentation was given by Mererid Jones and Libby Jeffries, Speech and Language Therapists for Hywel Dda UHB on the development of the Communication Board. They were able to share how the boards were developed and funded, the locations of the boards across Ceredigion and the Hywel Dda footprint and other developments that are underway across Wales and further afield using this innovative idea.
The communications boards contain a selection of the most commonly identified words used within play environments, which are paired with associated symbols. Fifteen weatherproof boards have been placed at child friendly height around the parks in the county.
Delyth Raynsford, Independent Member of the Hywel Dda University Health Board, Children and Welsh Language Champion, said: “Together with our colleagues at Ceredigion County Council, and thanks to the support from Welsh Government and hard work undertaken by our wonderful Speech and Language Therapists, I am delighted to welcome the Minister to Aberystwyth to see our Communication Boards and how they are helping with speech and language development among our younger population.
“In particular, I would like to congratulate Libby Jeffries and Mererid Jones, Clinical Lead Speech and Language Therapists, who received a Giving Voice award by the RCSLT in December 2021 for this work, which recognises how speech and language therapy transforms lives and celebrates innovative activity and achievements demonstrated by therapists across the UK.”
The Deputy Minister for Social Services was invited to the Integrated Centre Plant yr Eos to see the new build funded by the Welsh Government which opened for use at the end of 2021. A Babbling Babies session was held during her visit where Julie Morgan MS was introduced to families who benefit from the universal provision. From then, Julie Morgan MS was invited to see the Flying Start setting along with meeting representatives from Mudiad Meithrin.
Later on in the morning, Councillor Catrin M S Davies and Deputy Minister Julie Morgan MS visited the Knife Angel near the seafront promenade in Aberystwyth where another Communication Board is located. This board has recently been developed by the SLT service and the Adult Learning Disability Team which enables children and adults to communicate their needs when visiting the promenade area.
Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan MS, was offered an informal and practical opportunity to use the Communication Board with assistance from staff. She said: “It was fantastic to see these innovative communication boards to help children communicate. Talking, engaging and playing with children is one of the best ways we can help them to thrive and develop. Our Talk With Me programme highlights our commitment to supporting children’s speech and language skills, and pioneering approaches like this will encourage parents to talk with their children. I am pleased similar communications boards will be rolled out in other areas of Wales.”
Councillor Catrin M S Davies, Ceredigion County Council Cabinet Member responsible for Culture, Leisure and Customer Services, said: “Congratulations to everyone who has been involved with this brilliant project. It is a very important resource to promote and develop our young people’s speech and language skills. This is an example of good collaboration across different organisations as the funding from Flying Start has enabled many services to come together in the Integrated Centre. This special collaboration means that the Centre is much more than just a building.”