In the beginning:
After being diagnosed with Alopecia Areata, Wendy tried to find advice and support after her GP was unable to help. When Wendy realised that no such support existed, she contacted the local newspaper to try and contact others with the same condition. She arranged a meeting at a hotel in Truro for anyone who could relate to the advert. It was from this meeting that she met Leanne. Together they decided to join forces to form Alopecia Awareness in March 2005. It was a gradual process as neither one of them had ever been involved with a support group before and of course they where still coming to terms with the fact that their hair was falling out. The main difficulty was finding out who to speak to and who could help, it seemed like a mammoth task.
They arranged a second meeting and with the help of the media such as BBC Radio Cornwall and local press they had a great turn out. They all crammed into a church hall and discussed forming a group and support network which they both knew at this point was a service that was desperately needed.
A group was formed:
Over the next 12 months they held monthly meetings at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro with guest speakers which included trichologists, dermatologists and also speakers representing alternative medicine. Later a second Alopecia Awareness support group was formed in Plymouth and is run by Michelle Chapman.
Leanne and Wendy have raised awareness for alopecia and the support organisation through magazine and newspaper interviews and through information leaflets. They also became members of the UK Skin Care Campaign and are promoting links with the British Association of Dermatologists.
The fundraising events held to raise money for the promotional material included a waxing event and a fashion shown which involved models from Plymouth Albion Rugby Club, both events where extremely successful raising fantastic amounts. Fundraisers coming up include fun days at a local supermarket, Wendy's husband running the London Marathon on behalf of the organisation and other fund raising events arranged for the future.
Alopecia Awareness is now a registered charity and with support from other organisations such as BeBold and the Alopecia Areate Support Community, Alopecia Awareness continues to support all those in need of advice. We now hope to extend the number of groups we run to allow more people access to our support.