I’ve been advocating, sharing, fundraising and talking about allergies, anaphylaxis and asthma now for years, long before I started this blog, so I thought I’d write about how you can advocate, whether you have allergies yourself or not.
Allergy community – You don’t have to be a blogger, speaker or sharing everything on social media to be an advocate.
Allergy supporters – There are loads of really simple ways you can make a big difference.
What is advocay?
So firstly, what is advocacy and what can it look like?
Advocacy can take many forms, and you can be an advocate in many small ways, or you can also seek out an advocate to help you if you are feeling lost, unsupported and confused.
So I’ve made a list of all the ways that I have advocated in the past for those of us living with life threatening allergies.
A lot of you will already be acting as advocates without even knowing it. so to you all HIGH FIVE!
Thank you all so much, from the bottom of my heart 🙂
And if you think you could be doing more, I’m not saying you have to do all of these, just one. See what you think and choose something that works for you or that you’d feel comfortable doing.
- Educate yourself – Find out what your friend or family member is allergic to. Ask them how that makes them feel. Ask them what would help them. Be in their gang. Have their back! Because trust me, it’s exhausting being on high alert all the time. For me this also means going to conferences, events and exhibitions and absorbing everything I can. I am always learning.
- Join online groups and engage – you’ll learn loads on all the different social media challenges. Follow a few of the top inspirational advocates on Instagram or check out the Facebook groups to find out what the hot topics are.
- Keep up to date – Set some google alerts so you hear of the latest news, research and become a mini expert. I love it when my friends send me links to articles and news because most of the time I’ve often not seen it yet (I am a news phobic) so you’re doing me a favour and showing me you care!
- Check out the charities – there are quite a few charities supporting those with allergies. Find out how you can get involved, read what they’re doing and get involved if you can. Can’t believe how many there are!
- The Anaphylaxis Campaign (UK)
- Allergy UK (UK)
- The Natasha Foundation (UK)
- Owen’s Law (UK)
- Sadie Bristow Foundation (UK)
- National Allergy Strategy Group (UK)
- Action Against Allergy (UK)
- Asthma and Allergy Foundation (UK)
- Asthma Allergy and Inflammation Research (University of Southampon UK)
- The British Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (BSACI) UK
- The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI)
- FARE (USA)
- Red Sneakers for Oakley
- Elijah Alavi Foundation (USA)
- The Canadian Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology Foundation (CAAIF)
- Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA)
- The Allergy and Immunology Foundation of Australasia (AIFA)
- Try the food – Start to experiment yourself and try out free from food, you’ll find it’s actually not that bad. Spread the word and tell others! We want more inclusivity and since everyone can enjoy our free from food why not all eat it!
- Call people out – if you hear someone being disrespectful about allergies or flippant about keeping those with allergies safe, call them out. Ask them if they know how life threatening it is. Ask them if they know anyone who is at risk of anaphylaxis and chances are they won’t. Share a bit of your story and ask them to be kinder and more respectful. You can do this politely and it’s much needed. It always amazes me how many people still don’t really know how terrifying and serious anaphylaxis really is.
- Get reading – There are loads of great books out there to help you learn more, so if reading is your thing, this could be the one for you! Check out the Top 10 allergy books for adults and kids.
- Visit the Allergy Show – You could even arrange to join your allergy friend or family member. It’s actually really good fun and educational with loads of talks and seminars. Immerse yourself in our world and soak up some knowledge.
- Plan something fun – With your allergy person in mind, take the control and choose a venue or activity that’s suitable for them and plan a day out with their safety, needs and requirements in mind. For instance find a safe place to eat that understands allergies or organise a safe free from food picnic.
- Complain – If you hear or see allergies being portrayed badly on TV, radio, in the news, press, media of any kind, such as flippant comments, disrespect, incorrect use of adrenaline autoinjectors, please write to complain, tweet or share your thoughts. By doing this we make those responsible for production more aware and accountable.
- Write to your MP – If you feel really passionate, you could always write to your local MP to raise concerns about lack of allergy services, poor referral rates, lack of funding. Every little helps.
- Vote for an Allergy Tsar – You can find more about the Natasha Foundation campaign to get an Allergy Tsar appointed here – We need an Allergy Tsar
- Donate – If you have a favourite allergy charity you could consider donating to them, they do amazing work supporting those living with allergies, from support over the phone, groups, training, raising awareness and online information.
- Simply listen and support your allergy friend – You can be an awesome advocate simply by asking your allergy friend or family member how they are, how they feel, what is troubling them. Be their friend, be their back up, be their support. They will probably put a brave face on things but it can get on top of people being hyper vigilant all the time. Be kind, be gentle. Be understanding and be thoughtful.
- Build others up – The allergy community is immensely supportive and nourishing. One way you can support us is to encourage, share, comment and build up other allergy advocates, bloggers, influencers, writers and anyone vocal and sharing their experiences, tips, great products etc.
- Say thanks – When you see really good advocacy going on, say thanks to that person. Give them a like, a thumbs up, a huge thank you. It can be endless, tireless and sometimes feel like a drop in an ocean, but seriously we appreciate it. Thank you all!
- Support the small businesses – There are loads of people going into business, inspired to provide something safe and previously missing for their child or themselves. Let’s support those businesses. We’ll miss them if they’re gone. I see so many brilliant initiatives fail or disappear after a few years and it always breaks my heart.
- Become a volunteer – Offer your help for free at allergy events, meetups, charity fundraisers.
- Learn how to Administer an Adrenaline Auto Injector – Read 20 Lifesaving tips for Anaphylaxis to find out how to do this.
- Offer your help – If you see anyone struggling, an allergy mum or dad or a friend, reach out and offer your help. You can find an advocate to help you through Allergy UK or The Anaphylaxis Campaign (links above). If you need help, ask for it.
Actually, you don’t have to be doing any of these things at all, you could just be realising that this is a real, traumatic and worrying condition for a lot of people. All we really want is your understanding and respect.
If you’ve never met anyone with anaphylaxis and don’t know what it means, just find out that simple fact and you’ll be huge steps ahead.
Just by more people knowing this is a serious condition, we make progress and it still amazes me that many people don’t.
To me advocacy is about inclusion, empowerment and community.
Are you an Allergy Advocate? Are you going to start being one? What are you going to do? Do you advocate in other ways? Who is your favourite allergy advocate? I’d love to hear your views. Please comment below…