We have a new regular feature for 2016 - 'Support Group Spotlight'. Each month, with the help of our fabulous volunteer support group leaders, we will provide details of our support groups allowing you to learn a little more about them. First up is a support group led by one of our ambassadors.....
What is your name and which Alopecia UK support group do you lead?
I'm Sue Hampton and I run the Berkhamsted (Herts) group.
How long as the Berkhamsted group been going?
I think we've been meeting for about two years now. I can't remember the exact date of our first meeting.
How often do you meet?
The Berkhamsted group meets every other month.
Why did you decide to become a support group leader?
I'd just become an ambassador for Alopecia UK after more than 30 years without hair. I am an author and have written two books featuring characters with alopecia. I had recently raised some money for Alopecia UK with a 'dance-a-thon'. Starting a support group seemed the obvious next step to continue my involvement.
Do you always meet in the same venue?
Until recently we met in a cafe which unfortunately has now closed. We have a new venue for 2016, the Quaker Meeting House on the high street. This is good for parking and includes kitchen facilities.
What can people expect from a Berkhamsted support group meeting?
Warm, open and caring conversation, advice/tips and shared stories. Hopefully some laughs and a cuppa and biscuit too! Occasionally we may have a visitor. For instance, at our next meeting a local lady who makes wigs will bring some with her. I am also planning to show some images from Alopecia UK's Big Weekend using a projector and screen. The group's attendance doesn't currently justify regular speakers although we now have 20 people on the group's distribution list. At one meeting we had two teenagers but most regulars are older and tend to be female. We have welcomed family members and a boyfriend to support members. Those who attend have different types of alopecia
What is the best thing about leading the Berkhamsted support group?
When people say it's helped or that they really enjoyed it. When the two teenagers clicked and stayed in touch with each other. The feeling of solidarity and yes, support.
What would you say to someone feeling nervous about attending a support group meeting for the first time?
I expect everyone who's been along has felt the same the first time but you can be sure of a welcome. We listen. You won't feel alone anymore and you'll feel understood.