We bring exciting news! After 12 years of Alopecia UK being based from spare bedrooms, dining rooms, living rooms, attics and garages, we are getting our first office. And we need your help to set it up! Please read on....
If you’ve followed Alopecia UK for a while now, you may know that the charity was entirely volunteer-led from its inception in 2004 until 2014 – ten years of being an entirely voluntary organisation. The charity achieved great things in that time but was only able to do so much given its team was juggling charity activities around full time work and families. Two years ago, the charity took the big step towards employing staff and we now, in 2016, have Jen Chambers and Amy Johnson working for Alopecia UK full-time. The charity's Trustees recognised that the way for Alopecia UK to grow is to have dedicated staff working towards the charity’s aims full time. There is still further work to do for Alopecia UK to be the national alopecia charity that everyone with alopecia deserves but we have come a long way in just the past couple of years. By having full time employees in place we have achieved the following:
- We are able to respond to support emails and answer calls far more quickly than in the past, something that is so important when helping those struggling with alopecia, particularly as the charity grows and more and more people are getting in touch
- Alopecia UK now has more active support groups than ever before, with two new children’s groups in the pipeline
- Our support group leaders now have resources to assist them in running their groups and supporting members
- We host national events each year, including our Alton Towers trip and our Big Weekend, bringing together the largest meetings of people with alopecia in the UK for information, advice, support, and awareness
- We have built an active social media platform reaching more people with alopecia and helping to raise awareness of alopecia amongst the general public
- We now regularly communicate with members via our monthly newsletter keeping people up to date and feeling involved with the Charity
- We are working on a report to challenge the postcode lottery that exists for NHS wig provision
- We are working on launching new resources specifically for children, teens, parents and schools which we hope to be able to launch later this year
- We have increased our awareness efforts with medical professionals by not only committing to attend two annual dermatology conferences but we have also extended our conference circuit to include the largest annual meeting of GPs. We also attended the World Congress for Hair Research last November after being invited to have a stall. Attendance at these conferences also provides brilliant networking opportunities helping to bring relevant speakers to our own Big Weekend conference.
- We are able to support and advise those who wish to fundraise for Alopecia UK which has helped to increase the charity income.
- We have also been able to start working towards diversifying where the charity’s funds come from, through bid writing and sponsorship opportunities, which gives the charity more stability and security going forward.
- We completed a Hair Loss Priority Setting Partnership with the James Lind Alliance, producing two ‘Top Ten Priority Lists for Research’ which will help to drive further research. We continue to be involved in taking this forward, with a pilot study funding scheme in development.
- We have developed a team of volunteers who help Alopecia UK at events and support with the admin of our forum and Facebook group
- We are able to pick up other email enquiries that come in around things like media requests enabling wider alopecia awareness, researchers looking for participants, suppliers wanting to join the suppliers directory.
We have done all this (and more, this list is not exhaustive!) with a staff of two.
All work is currently done from Amy’s dining room table and Jen’s spare room. Each working remotely from home. Amy in Yorkshire, Jen in Cumbria. But the time has come to bring the two of them together. To work under the same roof. We are certain that this will lead to easier working, greater productivity and increased creativity – essentially ‘more stuff happening’ at Alopecia UK. A further benefit is it will allow us to continue to expand and recruit a third member to the AUK team, again increasing our charitable activities.
A small, modest, unfurnished office space (pictured) has been found in Yorkshire and Jen (and little Gizmo!) will be relocating. We believe Yorkshire will be a good base for Alopecia UK. We hope to continue to develop links with the Department of Psychology at the University of Sheffield and researchers at the Skin Science Centre at the University of Bradford. Yorkshire is also a good central base for visiting many areas of the UK – much easier for Jen to reach places than from her current home in Cumbria, where she was always about 4-5 hours from anywhere!
How can you help?
We need to furnish the office and we’re hoping that those of you who agree that this is a step in the right direction for Alopecia UK will make a small (or large!) donation to support the cost of getting some furniture. We’re going to need desks, chairs and storage furniture. We will be trying to source any furniture as cheaply as possible (if anyone knows anyone that might be able to give us furniture for free, give us a shout!) but there will inevitably be things we need to pay for.
We’ve set ourselves a target of £750 to assist with our office start-up costs and we’d LOVE it if our fabulous supporters would consider making a contribution. Any funds donated to this appeal that do not end up being spent on office furniture, will go into the wider Alopecia UK charity pot – all donations will be used to support the work Alopecia UK does in improving the lives of those with alopecia. So please dig deep if you’re able to!
We would also be particularly grateful for any messages of support that you may wish to leave with your donations – there is space in the donation form. This is a big step for Alopecia UK and Amy and Jen (particularly so for Jen who is moving across the country…again!) and words of encouragement are always hugely appreciated.
Thank you in advance for your support.