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Being a young person with a stammer

William's Story: Apprentice and Stambassador

Business Administration Apprentice

Hi everyone! My name is William Laven and I am an apprentice at Publicis Media. In this article I’m going to be talking about what it is like to have a stammer and especially what it's like being an apprentice with a stammer.  

I started my apprenticeship at Publicis Media less than a month ago and I love it! I am on the newly re-branded Business Admin programme which I find very interesting. In this qualification I am studying all aspects of a business organisation but also learning about how each element works. This qualification will take me anywhere in a job as it is so broad.  I have always been keen  to keep my options open and WhiteHat had exactly what I wanted in a qualification for Business Admin, it covered all aspects of what I wanted to learn but also the perfect job for me popped up and it was a Business Admin qualification at Publicis Media!

Being a young person with a stammer, I want to inspire young people who are scared about going to uni or doing an apprenticeship to know that they can do it. I want to show them what’s out there to help them through interviews and show that they can go where they want to!

What is stammering? Stammering varies in severity from person to person, and from situation to situation. Did you know that Studies suggest around 1 in 20 young children go through a phase of stammering and around four in five children who stammer will grow out of it?

The Michael Palin centre was set up by Michael Palin himself as he wanted to raise awareness for people with a stammer but also to help them with therapy to improve their stammer. I took part in a 2-week intense course which was built for young people to get therapy but also gain confidence and express our emotions about it.

In this course I met so many people who also had a stammer and it was a great experience both to understand different people’s stammer and to learn new tips as well. As a result of going to the centre I have featured in a BBC Three Things ‘Not to Say’ episode which was based on stammering; and I became a Stambassador for the Charity which is a role to help inspire others transitioning from education to the workplace! I also spoke in front of 100 students who were studying speech and language. This was a huge deal for me, and I couldn’t be happier that I did it!

When it came to taking interviews for my apprenticeship I got really nervous, for the job itself of course but one of my main worries was my stammer and how it would affect my performance. This is ridiculous! Of course it wouldn’t make any difference but that’s the first thing that comes to my head. I haven’t let it stop me and I have had feedback from interviewees saying they didn’t notice it;this makes me so happy! When I first told WhiteHat about my stammer the were nothing but understanding about it, they gave me top tips of how to smash the interview but also crucially they would let me stammer if I was on the phone to them. Some people would say, ‘Hurry up,’ or, ‘Are you still there?’ That really hurts if you say that to someone who stammers.

What is my role at Publicis? I am an operations apprentice for PG One. We are a dedicated team for Procter & Gamble which has been formed between Publicis Media, Saatchi & Saatchi, Leo Burnett and Performics. I am based in the operations team and I focus on TV. This means that I set up different TV campaigns,I produce front sheets and I also do cross checks across our campaigns. The operations team couldn’t be more understanding about my stammer, they have wanted to find out more about it but most importantly they let me stammer and don’t judge me on it. My stammer doesn’t really affect me in my role until I make a phone call. When I do those I don’t let it stop me and use the techniques that I have been told about.

At the end of the day, I wouldn’t be me without my stammer and without being surrounded by supportive colleagues, family & friends. I don’t let it stop me and to other people who want to go into an apprenticeship with a disability,I say don’t let it stop you! Working a for big organisation like Publicis it has made me feel great and if I can do it other people can too! How do you react to someone who stammers? Just let them finish their sentence and don’t rush them. Never speak for them but also ask them about it - we like to talk about it to raise awareness as not that many people know about it!

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