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!