13 June, 2019
At Colostomy UK we are proud to say that we have been supporting ostomates for over 50 years. With each year that passes, the number of people we reach and the ways in which we are able to help them grows, but our core values never change: from the voice on the other end of the phone reassuring you that you aren’t alone, to the projects encouraging you to express yourself through art or be more active, our focus remains on supporting you to live your life.
We are a self-funding charity and one way you can help us to continue our good work is to leave Colostomy UK a gift in your will. Many people are put off doing this as they think they need to give a substantial amount. This isn’t the case. Every penny left to us is put to good use helping ostomates of today and tomorrow. If you leave us a gift, we will use it where we feel the need is greatest. Alternatively, you can request that it is used to support one of our campaigns or projects. You can even specify that you would like it to help ostomates in a particular part of the country.
A great example of this is our ‘Isabel and Derek Jonas’ project. Towards the end of 2017 we were left a legacy with the request that the funds be used to support ostomates in the North East. Our first step in implementing the donor’s wishes was to listen to the views of local people. For us to deliver something that is both sustainable and impactful, we know it is crucial that those affected are involved right from the outset. Hence, last spring we visited Durham, Gateshead and Newcastle, where we met with the stoma care teams from North Durham and Gateshead Hospitals, our local volunteers, a number of facilities run by Gateshead and Newcastle councils, and members of support groups in Newcastle and Gateshead.
We came away with loads of great ideas from which we were able to formulate a plan to implement over the coming years. Some things we were able to deliver very quickly.
Late last October we held closed swimming sessions at pools in Newcastle and Gateshead, for ostomates and their families. This was a chance for people, often the first time after their surgery, to try swimming again in a closed and supportive environment. Amongst other things, we hoped that this would help give them back the confidence to attend public swimming sessions and generally encourage them to be active. The response was very positive. One of the success stories was Martin, who said afterwards: “I’ve had my stoma for 40 years and this is the first time I’ve been swimming since my surgery. I wish I’d done it years ago”.
Of course, swimming isn’t for everyone, so around the same time we also started to deliver the first Chair Yoga and Creative Minds arts sessions at support groups in Newcastle. We hope to extend these to other groups in North East this year. Other parts of the plan will take longer to implement and the results won’t be felt quite so quickly. Part of gift we were left is being used to offer better 1–to1e and group support to ostomates in the immediate post–surgery period. We are also aiming to strengthen our volunteer base in the North East and want to help make the area’s support groups more sustainable.
So, as you can see, from the gift of a single generous donor, many ostomates have and will benefit. We are looking forward to updating you as our plans develop further.