Colostomy UK: we support all ostomates
Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Richard Biddle introduces Colostomy UK and the ways the charity can support the stoma community
Regardless of the type of stoma you have, we’ve got you covered. At Colostomy UK, we aren’t picky. Colostomy, ileostomy, urostomy or perhaps a combination of two, it doesn’t matter. We’ll do everything in our power to help and support you. When we started back in the 1960s, we focused on people with colostomies, but that’s no longer the case. Times have changed, and so have we. To our mind, it makes no sense to discriminate when the physical and emotional needs of people with stomas rarely varies according to the type of surgery they have had. Ostomates still experience sore skin and leaks, struggle with things like body image and still worry about where the toilets are when they go out for the day. None of this has anything to do with the type of stoma they have, but everything to do with having been through life-changing surgery.
Our name comes from our long history, and it’s a history we’re proud of. In the past 6 decades, we have learned a great deal about what it means to live life when you have a stoma. We have learned people’s needs and concerns change over time and they are also linked to when a person has their surgery. Younger people, for example, may be worried about things like returning to work or starting a family. We also know that different patient groups don’t just have different needs but also like to seek and receive help in different ways too. All of this is reflected in the support that we offer and the various forms this support takes. Those seeking information about stomas and managing a stoma can turn to our suite of booklets. They are free to download from our website, or available in hardcopy if you prefer. Several the titles have won British Medical Association Patient Information Awards, one is even used as a teaching resource by the Royal College of Surgeons.
Ways we can help
Register with us for free, and you can also get hold of our award-winning magazine, Tidings. Delivered to you every quarter (by post or electronically – whatever you prefer), it is packed with real life stories from ostomates, covering everything from coping with foreign travel, starting or restarting contact sports again, to the experience of reversal surgery. Each edition also includes features like ‘Dear Nurse’ and ‘Dear Dietitian’, and it’s been hitting the doorsteps for well over 20 years now. Of course, reading is not for everyone. Some people prefer to chat things through, which is where our stoma helpline comes in. As well as being a freephone number, it’s open 24 hours a day. Call it, and you’ll always speak to a person. Often it will be one of our volunteers. You’ll be pleased to know that, as well as being DBS-checked and fully trained, all of them have or have had a stoma. All the research shows that the sort of experience-based advice they give is highly prized by patients. Indeed, our charity was founded on this idea. Quite simply, having been through stoma surgery and lived life with a stoma afterwards puts you in a unique position to empathise and help others who are going through the same thing.
Another way in which you can interact and find help and support is by joining our private Facebook group. They’re a friendly bunch, all 10 000 of them, and there is also our website. Visit this for all the latest news in the stoma world, details of our campaigns and advocacy work and to access all our publications or register with us. It’s also a place where you can chat with us anonymously. This can be helpful if you want to ask a question or need some advice about a subject you are perhaps embarrassed about or struggle to talk about without getting upset.
Colostomy UK’s awareness campaign
We are here for you
At Colostomy UK, we know better than most that life can sometimes be challenging when you have a stoma. We also understand the practical and emotional concerns and needs that people have after undergoing stoma surgery. It doesn’t matter how big or small your worry might be, or how silly your stoma question might seem, we are here. So, please check us out.
Visit our website to see what we have to offer. Although it may not seem like it to you now, as you read this, life with a stoma can be liberating. If you follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn you’ll begin to see how!
Richard Biddle is an author and editor for Colostomy UK.