Friday, 11 April 2014


Unless you've been living in a cave for the past month, you will have seen the widespread cancer campaign, the #NoMakeupSelfie which has been covered online, in the press and on your TV. Women have been sharing their natural skin selfies on social media in a bid to raise awareness for Cancer. The amazing #NoMakeUpSelfie campaign raised thousands in funds and awareness for Cancer sufferers and their families.
Following in their footsteps, a small team decided to do the same for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), namely Crohns and Ulcerative Colitis - both of these diseases are debilitating, sometimes life-threatening and often come with humiliating symptoms yet very few people have heard of them. IBD is an auto-immune disease where sometimes surgery is the only option, sections of the intestines are removed, often resulting in sufferers needing permanent ileostomies, internal pouch construction and sometimes becoming reliant on tube feeding. Sometimes doctors find medications to manage the disease and the symptoms become controllable but some of these medications have serious side effects that can be as debilitating as the disease itself. Unfortunately these diseases are often confused with IBS which is a much milder and overall manageable condition. To date, there is no known cure for IBD. Crohns and Colitis UK is the UK association for IBD; providing information, support and guidance to sufferers and their families. They also work hard to raise funds which they hope will eventually lead to a cure for IBD. The problem is, how do you raise funds for, and awareness of, a disease that so few people are willing to talk about, because of the private and somewhat embarrassing nature of its symptoms. On March 23rd, Derbyshire based Marketing Manager, Sahara Fleetwood-Beresford had an idea off the back of the #NoMakesup social media campaigns for something that was much more personal to her and altogether more suitable for raising awareness of severe health conditions. Along with some of the other members of the team working on this campaign, Sahara was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2007 and has since had numerous operations leaving her with an internal pouch, constructed from her own small intestine and now battles a new form of IBD, pouchitis. Early in the campaign, Sahara decided it would have to be a campaign that got as many people as possible involved and it had to be something that didn't involve financial outlay. She decided on something simple yet effective. Everyone from the IBD community was encouraged to upload a photograph of their belly alongside the hashtag #GetYourBellyOut to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and instagram. They were asked to text IBDA99 £3 (or their donation amount) to 70070 if they wished to donate to Crohns and Colitis UK. The goal was to raise awareness and funds to support research into finally finding a cure for IBD. People without IBD were also asked to join the campaign. The only criterion needed to support the campaign is a willingness to raise awareness of IBD.

A dedicated team of people joined Sahara and have all worked very hard to co-ordinate the project. Gem Willingham and Lorna Haymes both have Crohn's disease and Victoria Marie and Kay Wilkinson have Ulcerative Colitis. Despite the daily struggles they are all dealing with, they have fought on with the #GetYourBellyOut campaign and have helped so many IBD patients come together with a common cause in mind: A cure for IBD and to tell people about what it's like to have Inflammatory Bowel Disease. The campaign has been backed by the charity Crohns and Colitis UK, who have published the campaigns details on their website. Sahara says of the #GetYourBellyOut campaign, which has now gone global “What started out as a campaign to raise awareness of an invisible illness that so many people suffer with in silence, has turned in to a campaign of Inspiration and unity!" The campaign has been met by great praise from the online IBD community and has had the backing of two celebs; Kay Murray and Ali Jawad, who also suffers from Crohn’s disease. The campaign has already raised in excess of £2,500 and the total is rising daily. It is an exciting, innovative campaign that is sweeping social media and the #GetYourBellyOut team are looking for your support. ### Sahara Fleetwood-Beresford is a Marketing Manager for a local Marketing firm, her day-to-day lifestyle is a huge struggle and despite suffering, she has been in full-time employment for over four years, with very little time off as a result of her illness. Sahara was first diagnosed with Colitis in 2007

With thanks to Kay Wilkinson at Brink of Bedlam for the information.

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