Written by Lynne Regent | Chief Executive, the Anaphylaxis Campaign | [email protected]
Over 150 million people have allergies in Europe, where it is the most common chronic disease, 1 and in the UK the problem is particularly acute. Up to 7 million people have allergies severe enough to require specialist allergy care and over 650,000 lifesaving adrenaline auto-injector devices are prescribed each year to people at risk of severe allergic reactions in the UK. 2,3
The Anaphylaxis Campaign is the only UK-wide charity to exclusively meet the needs of the growing numbers of people at risk from severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), by providing information and support about food and other allergy triggers, such as latex, drugs, and insect stings, through their national helpline, volunteer-led local support groups, and free and accredited online AllergyWise training courses.
The ultimate aim of the Anaphylaxis Campaign is to create a safe environment for all people with allergies by educating patients, the food industry, schools and preschools, colleges, healthcare professionals, and other key audiences. While the focus of the charity is extremely serious, they have chosen a unique way of raising awareness of anaphylaxis and severe allergy: orange wigs!
Orange Wig Day is the biggest and brightest day in the Anaphylaxis Campaign’s annual calendar. It sees people from across the UK wear orange wigs to work, school, a special Orange Wig Day event, or in their clinic. In 2017, >1,200 people wore orange wigs and hundreds more organised dress-down or ‘wear orange’ days.
“The idea is simple, inclusive, and remarkably effective in raising awareness of the seriousness of allergies and risks of anaphylaxis. We want people to have fun and at the same time open a dialogue about allergies and how the Anaphylaxis Campaign can help individuals with allergies, their families, and the people who care for them,” said Carey Ledford, Fundraising Manager at the Anaphylaxis Campaign.
Hillingdon Hospital, Uxbridge, UK was an early adopter of Orange Wig Day and reported: “The wigs provided a unique and informal talking point; when patients asked us about it, we were able to tell them about the Anaphylaxis Campaign and the condition itself. We’re really pleased we took part.”
Orange Wig Day 2018, taking place on Friday 18th May, will feature the highest number of hospitals and clinics to take part in the event’s 6-year history. Hospitals, clinics, and surgeries can order their own orange wigs until 12th May 2018 at www.orangewigday.co.uk.
In addition to healthcare settings, the charity also encourages participation from schools, families, groups of friends, youth groups, hobby groups, and work colleagues. The flexibility of Orange Wig Day allows anyone to participate and everyone to make a difference. Wig photos and selfies can be posted to the Anaphylaxis Campaign’s Facebook wall using @orangewigday, and shared on Twitter using #OrangeWigDay or mentioning @anaphylaxiscoms.
Orange Wig Day is just one of the many opportunities the Anaphylaxis Campaign provides people working in healthcare to engage with the organisation year-round. Through their membership scheme (https://www.anaphylaxis.org.uk/hcp/hcp-membership/) the charity aims to provide tailored advice to healthcare professionals, including practical advice and up to date information on research and treatments. The charity also supports the continued professional development of people working in healthcare settings through providing free and accredited online AllergyWise eLearning courses (https://allergywise.org.uk/), including comprehensive ‘train the trainer’ courses: AllergyWise for Healthcare Professionals and AllergyWise for GPs and Practice Nurses.
As Chief Executive of the Anaphylaxis Campaign, Lynne Regent explained how maintaining a connection between patients and the professionals who support them is a crucial part of the charity’s work: “Our Healthcare Professional Membership programme has been running for >8 years now and has grown marvellously. We know from the feedback that we receive that people working in healthcare who are involved with us as members find our conferences and information so helpful as part of their continuing professional development. Our charity receives no government funding, so this support, as well as Orange Wig Day, is also vital to enable us to support people who are living with severe allergies.”
The charity’s next conference (https://www.anaphylaxis.org.uk/hcp/hcp-events/) will be focussing specifically on the psychological impact of allergies and will be held on Tuesday 13th November 2018 in London, UK.
- European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EACCI). 150 million Europeans are ‘trapped’ by allergy. 2014. Available here. Last accessed: 25 April 2018.
- British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology (BSACI). Allergy update; Issue 17. 2011. Available at: http://www.bsaci.org/publications/AU17_spring2011.pdf. Last accessed: 25 April 2018.
- National Health Service Digital. Prescription Cost Analysis: England 2016. 2017. Available at: https://files.digital.nhs.uk/publicationimport/pub23xxx/pub23631/pres-cost-anal-eng-2016-rep.pdf. Last accessed: 01 May 2018.