Joseph Franchi, who struggled with a stammer for years, has learned to control it thanks to a therapy programme championed by stars such as Pop Idol singer Gareth Gates.
The 26-year-old had spent years unsuccessfully battling his speech condition, after the trauma of an asthma attack brought on the stutter when he was 18-months-old.
It impacted every aspect of Joseph’s life, and left him feeling unable to pursue his dream of being a teacher.
“I struggled to talk to people in shops or in the street and hated using the phone for formal phone calls, I always had to get my dad to help me,” said the Asda worker, who suffers from an overt stammer, meaning he would use physical signs or facial expressions when blocking out a word.
“I never went on nights out or socialised because it was too embarrassing having to ask someone to buy drinks for me.
“I always pushed myself in education, but after university I struggled finding a job and didn't put myself forward because of the stammer.”
In February 2018 Joseph enrolled in the McGuire Programme, an international speech and language therapy course which teaches people physical techniques to help them overcome stammers.
The courses are run solely by other stutterers and students are given lifelong support afterwards.
“I thought I’ve got nothing to lose,” Joseph said.
“It’s not a cure, but they help from a psychological aspect, they teach you self-acceptance and not to be ashamed about who you are.”
As part of the programme Joseph gave a speech to more than 100 people on a soapbox in Newcastle City Centre.
“I have become a lot more independent, I’m more confident and I don't hide away from any speaking situations,” he said.
Now he is set to help other stutterers do the same by training to become a coach for the McGuire programme, as well as working towards becoming a fully-qualified teacher.
“There are people who really suffer in silence due to their speech,” he added.
“I want to help others learn what I have, to help them control their own stammers.”