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What We Do
The Wessex Stoma Support Group was formed by Michael Beck, who has just been awarded a BEM for his contribution to the charity in the local area, and Michael Slater in 2006 and was made to include anybody with an Ostomy because there was not any support groups in the area that supported all types of stoma: urostomy, colostomy, ileostomy, Mitrofanoff etc. Prior to the formation of the Group, bladders and bowels didn’t mix, but the two Michaels wanted to make something more inclusive.

With the idea of starting a local support group, the inaugural meeting took place in the Chalke Valley on 29th April 2006. At that time, we had just a few members, consisting of friends and family, but had the idea to open the Group up to anyone who felt they might need some support before or after their stoma surgery.

Not only did the Group want to offer support to ostomists, we also wanted to include their friends and family. So we started holding full meetings, above Salisbury District Hospital’s Social Club, inviting anyone who was interested along. Mainly, these meetings were and still are social gatherings, a chance to get together with friendly people who have had similar experiences and face similar problems and have a chat over tea and cake. This is still the way we hold our meetings today.

In those first few meetings, we had a few interested people and since then our numbers have grown – we now have over 80 members! We are currently the only stoma support group in the Wessex area that meets regularly.

Through our fundraising efforts and the kind support of Fittleworth, we raise enough money to be able to now host our meetings at the Bob Blandford Memorial Hall in Wilton, which provides a lovely atmosphere, with free refreshments provided. All this goes towards making the experience easier on members. It can be daunting to attend our meetings so we strive to make it as welcoming as possible.

We produce a quarterly newsletter, which has been enormously successful both with members and non-members. We feel this helps people who do not feel comfortable, or who are unable to attending the meetings, to remain connected to the Group and still receive a level of support.

We pride ourselves on having good relationships with other support groups and companies. We are in regular contact with manufacturers of stoma products, most of whom attend our meetings at some point. We also have a wonderful relationship with supplier Fittleworth, who have been kind enough not only to sponsor our meetings but also to send a representative to each. We are involved with Ostomy Lifestyle and have attended their training courses and also with Ostomy Aid. We are in contact with other support groups in the south of England, as well as Mitrofanoff Support, CA & IA.

We are currently spreading our wings even further. After making contact with Dr. De Zoysa at one of our fundraising efforts, we are working with him as he sets up his own stoma support group in Sri Lanka. This is a very exciting project for us and we hope that both sides will benefit enormously.

Our hope is that we continue to grow and offer support to members of the community and their families. Just knowing that there is someone who has been through some similar experiences and who is always available to talk to can be a great relief and we hope to continue providing that.