European League of Stuttering Associations

ELSA, Zülpicher Str. 58 D-50674 Köln, Germany
Tel. +49 221 139 1106    fax + 49 221 139 1370
ELSA, 31 Grosvenor Road, Jesmond, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE2 2RL, Great Britain
Tel. +44 191 281 8003    fax+44 191 281 8003

ELSA Press Releases

20 July 2009
ELSA gets ready for the 2009 Youth Meeting with a Press Release


More than 30 young people from across Europe will be converging on Giggleswick School in North Yorkshire in July to take part in a week-long project designed to help them turn their aspirations into reality.

The European League of Stuttering Associations (ELSA) is holding its 7th conference for young people who stutter from 25 - 31 July. This is the first time the meeting has been held in the UK and follows the publication of the Bercow review in December 2008 which moved speech, language and communication needs for children and young people higher up the UK Government's agenda. UK Government has also designated 2011-12 National Year of Speech, Language & Communications. *

Stuttering is a hidden disability and for many of the young people aged 18 - 25 this will be the first time they have had the confidence to take part in such an event with people they have never met. During the conference the young people will share their fears, experiences and practice speech improvement techniques in a secure environment, encouraging them to forge a new direction in their day to day lives, such as taking a pro-active role in running their own associations or lobbying for greater awareness of stuttering issues.

Participants in previous Youth Meetings, such as Anita Blom from Sweden, have gone on to run their own national stuttering associations while Irina Papencheva from Bulgaria, who currently works for the European Disability Forum was formerly Deputy Mayor of Sofia.

Newcastle upon Tyne based Edwin Farr, co-founder and chair of ELSA, said: "Most young people take it for granted that they are able to verbally communicate with their peers, workmates, class-mates. For young people who stutter, this is not the case. While new technology means that communicating electronically is now more acceptable - they are still isolated when it comes to face to face encounters. This experience is the start of the realisation that they don't need to remain isolated."

Anita Blom who now also co-chairs ELSA said: "I attended the 1995 youth meeting in Sweden and it was, for me, a life changing experience. Being around other people who stutter made me realise that I was not alone and that there was a tremendous amount of support to be had from sharing experiences."

The young people come from across Europe; Austria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Lithuania, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden as well as three UK representatives from South of England and Scotland.

"It is a great pleasure to welcome ELSA to Giggleswick School, for their first ever conference in the UK" said Giggleswick's Headmaster Geoffrey Boult "They are just one of a number of charities and community organisations who make use of our facilities throughout the year."

*DH press release 17 Dec 2008 - Boost for Services for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs.


  • Anita, Irina and Edwin will all be present at this year's Youth Meeting.
  • The meeting is part funded by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe and ELSA.
  • Edwin Farr received an MBE in the 2002 Birthday Honours for his services to the stuttering community.
  • The EUROPEAN LEAGUE OF STUTTERING ASSOCIATIONS (ELSA) was set up in 1990 by 12 countries to promote a greater knowledge and understanding of stuttering and to bring together, as a top umbrella Organisation, the National Stuttering Self-Help Organisations of Europe
  • Giggleswick is a leading co-educational boarding school. Established in the early 16th century, it is situated in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales close to the market town of Settle. The Headmaster, Mr Geoffrey Boult, is a Member of the Headmasters and Headmistresses Conference (HMC). The School is pleased to welcome ELSA as part of its wide ranging community engagement programme.
  • Further information from Edwin J. Farr Tel: 07860 609279 /