This month Sue tells us a little about the 'Bold Over Club', the support group she runs in Leicester with Jane, Jackie and Kate.
How long has the Bold Over Club (Leicester) support group being going?
The support group has been meeting for 4 years.
How often do you meet?
Our meetings are held once every two months.
Why did you decide to become a support group leader?
Myself and Jackie both have personal experience of alopecia. I found losing my hair extremely isolating and felt very alone. I felt we needed something in Leicester for people who may feel similar to me.
Jane and Kate work with hair pieces and offer information on what is available and are extremely empathetic and supportive to alopecia attendees.
Do you always meet in the same venue?
We mainly meet at George’s Salon, Allandale Road, Leicester. Our meetings are held on Sundays so we have exclusive use of the salon, affording us some privacy. Possibly once a year we will do something different but this is advertised early on in the year in our bi-monthly newsletter.
What can people expect from a Leicester support group meeting?
We have approximately 17 – 25 people who attend meetings and we offer refreshments and often a fun raffle. The attendees generally are women but we welcome males too. We welcome friends or family and are happy for children to attend with an adult. We welcome anyone with medical hair loss and have a range of different conditions represented in the group including alopecia areata (at various stages), hair loss through cancer treatment and androgenetic alopecia.
We offer a range of activities which include occasionally inviting speakers in, offering demonstrations and workshops.
Examples have included a dermatologist coming in to speak about alopecia; a dermatology nurse attended and discussed the treatment available in Leicester; an explanation of semi-permanent make up; head massage; hand massage; scarf tying demonstrations and a class instructing on false eyelash application. All our activities are advertised on the newsletter we send out via email or post.
What is the best thing about leading the Bold Over Club?
I personally have gained great confidence by meeting with others who have this condition and this has been the driving force in keeping the group going. Since attending the group I am able to talk openly about my hair loss whereas before this I was ashamed and embarrassed and would go to great lengths to cover it up.
I also enjoy seeing others get support and grow in confidence when attending the group and getting support from each other.
What would you say to someone feeling nervous about attending a support group meeting for the first time?
I would say we are happy to meet with anyone beforehand on a one to one basis if this helps. You can email the group and we will organise this. We can arrange to meet them on the day for that additional support if anxious about initially walking in.
I personally found and have had feedback from others that they have felt very welcome at the group and that everyone is very friendly and welcoming.
(Photo taken when Alopecia UK's Communications & Fundraising Manager, Amy, visited the group in 2015. Pictured from L-R are Jane, Jackie, Amy and Sue)