This month, I wanted to share the story of Ashley Medicks who got in touch with me after Dragons' Den aired. I was really moved by his story and wanted to raise awareness through my blog of how he has set up a dermatology helpline to help others after being diagnosed with a skin condition himself. Please take a look and visit Skinship's website for more details. As always, I'd love to hear your views.
Founder of Vitiliglow™
Hi, my name is Ashley Medicks. For the past 20 years I have run the UK’s only general dermatology helpline called Skinship (UK) which supports people suffering from any kind of skin problem, including all types of skin cancer.
I first came across Polly when I watched a documentary series called ‘Too ugly for love?’ I was so very impressed with the way she had overcome her reluctance to show her Vitiligo patches and I was compelled to get in touch with her after her successful appearance on ‘Dragons’ Den’. After I explained what Skinship (UK) offers, Polly urged me to tell you more about what Skinship (UK) offers help to its callers through her blog.
We are a general dermatology helpline, and receive calls from all sorts of people with all kinds of problems. Some might be seen as minor in the eyes of a GP or Dermatologist, but may present major quality of life issues for the individual. Others may have received a potentially devastating diagnosis such as Malignant Melanoma, and been left hanging by a busy Health Service which has been unable through lack of time, or a non-empathetic approach, to provide suitable information, and holistic support. I have that time. I never put any limits on my calls. If someone tries to reach Skinship whilst I’m taking a call, our answerphone system allows them to still leave their details. I ALWAYS return calls. I try my best to make each and every caller feel as if I have listened and responded in such a way as to make a positive difference in their sometimes unfortunate circumstances.
Living in a society which seems to be placing an increasingly undue emphasis on looking good, one where we are bombarded with images of thin, tanned, unblemished, photo-shopped, good looking people, can made those of us (and that means most of us) who don’t fit this bill, feel pretty miserable. The pressures on young people especially, can lead to all kinds of really difficult emotional and psychological consequences. It seems likely that the readers of this blog will know of at least one person in their lives who is suffering in this way. Self-harming is becoming increasing common, along with other conditions affecting self-esteem, such as body dysmorphia. What a very sad state of affairs this is. I can only hope that the more these issues are discussed openly, the less people will suffer.
I have lost count of the number of calls I have taken over the years from people who have really horrific tales to tell on the subject of bullying, staring and unkind comments which are to do with their appearance. Years ago, children and young people could leave their bullies at the school gates. These days, with the advent of social media, cyber-bullying can, and does, follow them home, and into their bedrooms. The very worst stories I have heard, are the ones which tragically end with a young person taking their own life because of just how miserable they were made to feel.
If you, or anyone you know, is suffering through living with any kind of skin problem, including birth marks, disfigurement, scarring or skin cancers, do please feel free to call us on 01387 760567.
Additionally, I have run Skinship for twenty years on a purely voluntary basis, having to support the work that we do via fundraising, which for any Charity these days is an increasingly difficult task. Therefore, should you log on to our website, and wish to support the work that we do, there is a ‘Donation’ section which will enable you to help us. Every penny is very gratefully received. Thank you!
I'd like to start off by thanking you all for waiting so patiently for me to respond to your emails - my inbox is finally under control! I've loved hearing from you all and thank you so much for sharing your stories and photos with me. Knowing that there are others out there that feel the same as me has been very emotional but this week I'm pleased to say I've been crying tears of joy.
After receiving investment, I've spent the last few months working directly with the manufacturer of Vitiliglow™. I've been personally testing each formula they've sent me, racing home from work with the samples to try out the latest version of the product. It's taken a few attempts this time as I wanted to make some fundamental changes to the product but I can tell you that....we've got it...the product that we have been waiting for and so desperately need.
This week, I tried the latest version of Vitiliglow™. I was blown away. It went on really easily and the staying power was fantastic. I slept in it. I wore some white pyjamas (anyone else out there that hasn't worn white in years?) I woke up and for the FIRST TIME in 20 years, I looked at myself in the mirror as I got out of bed and wasn't upset by my patches, because the product had stayed on all night. Yup, a full 8 hours. I couldn't believe it. I had a shower, washing gently not scrubbing at my skin, got dressed for work and I didn't need to reapply the product because it was still on. And it looked flawless!
I'm delighted that Vitiliglow™ will stay on for even longer than I thought and because it stays on for 2-3 days, I hope it will make as much difference to your daily life as it does to mine. I feel so confident using the new Vitiliglow™ that I would (for the first time in two decades) be happy to wear a bikini - where's that Indian Summer we've been promised?
OK, when will Vitiliglow™ be ready? Because of the exceptional staying power, we are working on a remover, which is something I still need to test. Once I'm confident that the remover is good enough, we'll be ready to accept your orders. If you've pre ordered, I'll get back in touch with you to let you know how to confirm and pay for your order. I'm hoping that this will be at the start of October, with your orders reaching you in mid-October.
Here's a couple more things you probably want to know:
Founder of Vitiliglow™