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An Introduction

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It is the aim of the Wessex Stoma Support Group to provide non-medical support and advice to all ostomists and their
families during all stages of ostomy surgery: prior to surgery, during hospital stays and also aftercare.
This might include home visits by our trained members, hospital visits or simply a phone call.
We have several trained advisors within the Group to provide non-medical support to anyone who asks for it.
Our information is given out to patients by the stoma clinic at Salisbury District Hospital and we are proud to have
the support of the stoma nurses.

We hold regular meetings approximately six times a year at the Bob Blandford Memorial Hall in Wilton.
To these we invite along a variety of guest 
speakers and suppliers to do talks and displays.
This part of the meeting is followed by free refreshments and cakes and a chance to mingle with other members.
And all this comes with pleasant chat and informal atmosphere where questions can be asked and stories shared.

Members also enjoy the social side of our Group including events such as the Annual Barbecue,
Christmas Lunch, Pantomime, Coffee Mornings and much more.

We offer to members transport to Hospital for stays and clinics, and for visiting relatives if they have no other means of transport.
It can be a reassuring thing to know that in times of trouble and isolation help is only a phone call away.
We hold fundraising events such as coffee mornings and craft fairs in and around the Salisbury area.

The Group has a strict code of confidentiality for all its members as well as codes for equality and child protection.
We also produce our own quarterly newsletter with regular input from the Salisbury District Hospital stoma nurses as well as
lots of other interesting pieces from members. This goes out to a wide range of hospitals and surgeries in the area.

The Group has a fully elected Committee, which meets on a regular basis to discuss policy and any other matters raised
by the members during the full meetings. It is the Group’s aim to work closely with Salisbury District Hospital for the benefit
of our members or any Ostomists who may show interest in 
joining the Group and also inform health professionals of the need
for support groups for ostomies.

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, at Salisbury District Hospital, 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, Pelican Healthcare and Irwin Mitchell, 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 to sponsor our meetings,
as well as Pelican/Respond Healthcare and Irwin Mitchell who help with sponsoring events and literature.
We are involved with Ostomy Lifestyle  and have been on training courses and also Ostomy Aid.
We are in contact with other support groups in the south of England, as well as Mitrofanoff Support, Colostomy UK & IA.
We do send surplus supplies abroad, through Jacobs Well Charity.

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.

We have campaigned nationally to get stoma friendly toilets and the names of disabled toilets changed to accessible toilets
with signage "Not all Disabilities are Visible " contacting Supermarkets, Attractions, Theme Parks, and Hotel Chains, and have
supported Colostomy UK, Crohns and Colitis UK in this campaign to great success.
We are also supporting Colostomy UK in better awareness at Airports, so ostomates can go through security with less
apprehension. We are constantly working towards a stoma friendly society.

Working with Salisbury City Council created the first Stoma friendly City
We recently released a 'Press Release' as follows:

Salisbury City becomes Stoma friendly

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The City of Salisbury is the first in the country to become Stoma friendly, the City Council has upgraded all its disabled
toilets to make them stoma friendly with the new signage (as above). 
The Campaign Not all Disabilities are Visible
by Colostomy UK, and Crones Colitis UK and Wessex Stoma Support group.

For many years ostomates, whether it be having a Colostomy Urostomy, Ileostomy or Mitrofanoff, have been abused by other
disabled toilets users when coming out as they look as if they, are not disabled, it had led to some not going out, as fear of not
being able the change their bags when needed,

Ken Edwards Chairman of Wessex Stoma Support Group has been helping to lead the campaign,has said;
"People with a stoma have additional needs when using the toilet even a simple day trip can be a potential source of anxiety.
Because the condition is ‘hidden’ they face discrimination too being challenged or criticised for using accessible toilets.
In an recent survey more than 30% of respondents stated they had experienced problems of this nature in shops,
venues and visitors attractions.
The campaign has really escalated with most supermarkets, and visitor attractions, upgrading their disabled toilet to
Accessible toilets with clear signage, improving the quality of life and giving ostomates of which there are 1 in every 500
in this country, giving them confidence to go out and about as the rest of the population."

Clare Mathews of Colostomy UK commented

"Colostomy UK is delighted that Salisbury City Council is leading the way in providing improved facilities for people with a stoma.
In the UK one in 500 people are living with a stoma and a suitable space for a shelf a hook to change a stoma bag,
and suitable signage can make huge difference to people’s lives, We would like to thank Colostomy UK supporter Ken Edwards
for all his hard work and dedication in making these changes happen."

Anyone interested in finding out more about stoma friendly toilets can contact us at
 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.colostomyuk.org