Today I would like to talk to you all about a charity that means a lot to me… the Purple Wings Charity. They work with people with stoma’s due to IBD (or that get IBD after stoma surgery as it does happen) to help them regain confidence within themselves again. Lauren the founder has helped me more than I think she will ever know and I didn’t need a grant but just a friend and if it wasn’t for her doing the charity work I might never have met her.Can you tell us a little about yourself?
“Well, where do I begin? I am a mummy, a part time drama and music teacher, I own three horses, run a charity and… I have a stoma.”
What is your charities focus (and why?)
“Purple Wings Charity helps sufferers of IBD with ostomies regain and self-esteem. We chose this niche because it was just that – a niche. I found there was incredible support for those suffering from IBD and equally fantastic support for people who have a bag but I found that my journey was unique because I have a bag but also a 5 year IBD journey prior to this. I wanted to get people together who had suffered the same so we could share our experiences and support each other.”
What made you start the charity?
“After 5 long years of horrendous agony, chronic exhaustion and embarrassment I had stoma surgery and only three months after I was getting married in the snow. Why bother mentioning this? I felt that my fairy tale wedding was the symbol that I was better and life was starting again. I didn’t have my old life back; I had a brand-new life and it was just about to get a whole lot more exciting! I was back teaching (without running down the corridors with 10 kids chasing me asking why I had just legged it out the classroom when I needed the toilet!), I got married to an incredible man who totally accepted not only my horrid illness but now my ostomy and then 10 months after surgery – after being told more children were off limits – I fell pregnant with my second child, Bella. My family was complete with my amazing husband, Kieran and my two beautiful children, Teddy and Bella.
It was during my pregnancy when life couldn’t get any better that I decided to do something to help others. I was already chatting to many sufferers on the support pages and now was the time to extend that to real life and I organised a ball. Initially, that was it – just a chance to get together with people who had been through similar experiences. Only, it grew and grew and now it is a registered charity and I absolute love the PW community.”
What do you do for the people you help?
“Our money raised goes straight back into the IBD and ostomy community. Our Time for me Grants involve sending people with stoma’s due to IBD for spa treatments, mini breaks, family days out – anything! The whole aim is so that the person can see that they can still do the little things and regain some much-needed confidence. So many shut themselves away and my aim is for sufferers to understand that their bag and their illness does not define them and they can be who they want to be. We also organise confidence-boosting days such as our recent pin up photo shoot day where we had around 25 ladies have their hair and make-up done then had a mini photo shoot all in the name of seeing how beautiful they are! I can honestly say their bags were the last thing I noticed! #femalecrush”
What does a Time For Me Grant entail and who can apply?
“A grant really is dependent on the individual. I always try and have a detailed telephone conversation with the person applying to establish where their confidence issues lie. Some people find it difficult to go out with friends, find it difficult to have intimate relationships with their partner, struggle to feel like a worthy parent and so each grant is tailored. We have sent people for spa treatments, photo shoots, experience days such as go-karting with friends etc. We have also purchased items to help the person feel more confident/secure such as ostomy wraps, lingerie or support armour for the gym-bods! Anyone can apply who has a stoma due to IBD.”
What has been your favourite grant?
“I remember every grant. I remember every name. I remember every story. These people become friends – its an unavoidable but wonderful part of helping others. There are many grants where I have come off the phone and felt like sobbing – sometimes through sheer happiness and sometimes through sadness of their terrible journeys and how brave they have been. There are probably two grants that really stand out and one was for a gentleman who was struggling with his confidence as a father as he had a hernia that prevented him from lifting his son. I spoke on the phone with him for a very long time and tried to reason that his little boy will only remember the wonderful things that daddy CAN do rather than focusing on the things daddy cannot do. PW paid for him and his family to go to Legoland where they inevitably had a wonderful time; this was not the best bit for me… The incredible moment was a few weeks later when the same gentleman I had spoken to weeks before, where I really thought ‘I cannot help this man, I really don’t think I can help’ because he was so low, posted a photo of himself sat in his paddling pool with his little boy! It made me laugh out loud because this man had told me he could not be a great daddy because of his hernia. His little boy looked so happy! Its these cherished moments in life that are important – and that’s what I strive to help people see. The second grant that stands out was a lady who had terrible problems with her teeth due to her Crohns disease. I spent not only one phone call but several talking in depth with the lady trying to help her to feel more confident. PW paid for her teeth to be rectified and I was inundated with photos of her glorious, new smile! I still smile now when I see a post from her as she is always grinning with those gorgeous pearls!”
How do you raise money for the charity?
“PW relies solely on fundraising from our followers and our annual events such as the ball. We sometimes do sponsored events such as mountain climbs and runs too. Ultimately, we rely on the kindness of others to choose our charity to fundraise so please, if you want to help then do get in contact at firstname.lastname@example.org!”
What sort of events do you hold?
“We hold an annual ball each year in the midlands. This July will be our fourth one! The ball consists of a three-course meal, wine, entertainment and lots of fun! We also have an afternoon exhibition where ostomy companies exhibit their goods and services; plus, we have guest speakers who share their inspirational stories. It’s definitely worth the £29 ticket! BARGAIN! If you would like to attend this year’s ball, then please contact email@example.com.
We also hold events such as our calendar photo shoots or pin up photo shoot days. Please keep an eye on our website for future events which you can find here.”
What is your favourite type of event?
“Oh wow, what a question! I love the ball where everyone gets together and we celebrate our year in progress. I love seeing people having fun and seeing so much love for PW. I also love the photo shoots because our butterfly logo really does symbolise the transformation of the people in that room. It makes me feel so proud. I love seeing that a little help, a little boost and they are away. I very much enjoy the sponsored events such as climbing Snowdon – however, last year made me very sad as it was torrential rain and wind; not fun at the top of a mountain and there definitely is nothing worse than wet feet!”
Where do you hope to see the charity in 5 years?
“The charity has recently become registered and so we are getting more and more well-known. More people are applying for grants; however, we need more funds to carry out the grants and make our events affordable. I would like to see us having regular, annual sponsors so we can reach out to more sufferers with our grants. I would also like to have a trained counsellor to speak with sufferers and our plan is to create pre-op PW packs full of useful information, contacts and a text-buddy. Let’s hope we can fulfil our dreams!”
I love Lauren’s enthusiasm and just how much she cares about each and every single person she comes across. I too am raising money for Purple Wings Charity by doing a 5K walk with Ra-Ra on May 6th (revenge of the sith to any Star Wars fans out there) since being pregnant with Ra-Ra I have done a 5K every year, yep even last year when I was around 4 weeks post op ha ha! But this year I will be 8 months pregnant and not had the greatest time with it, yet I will not let Ra-Ra down so here we are raising money in the only way I can right now by walking!! So please help me reach my target and help someone else get a grant which you can make a donation here.