I am sat here on a windy, wet Saturday (22nd September) in my quirky flat reminiscing on the last 2 weeks! It has been absolutely incredible and a rollercoaster of emotions! I knew September was going to be full on but I didn’t anticipate just how busy it would be and I am super proud that my body managed to get through the taxing schedule.

So, this is what I have been up to…

Presenting at the Association of Stoma care Nurses (ASCN) Conference in Birmingham

This was the first event of September and started on the 9th and lasted 3 days! This was my first time attending ASCN and it was extremely interesting. Coloplast invited me because I wear Coloplast products and have been involved with advocating their products this year and I was also presenting some preliminary research in the main theatre on the Monday. The first surprise was seeing both myself and Steve’s picture at the entrance of the International Conference Centre and other pictures dotted around inside!

What an incredible 2 weeks

It was great getting the chance to speak to lots of stoma care nurses, the companies, charities and other advocates that attended. I particularly enjoyed the presentations that were very interesting around the theme ‘Breaking barriers and enhancing relationships’. There were many interesting talks regarding sex and intimacy with a stoma, bridging the dementia gap in stoma care and many other topics.

On Monday the 9th September I was very honoured to be able to present to many stoma care nurses ‘The Urostomy – The Poor Relation?’ regarding preliminary research highlighting a knowledge gap amongst other healthcare professionals in different wards, departments and primary care (GP’s). To say I was nervous is probably an understatement I think the 8-minute presentation took over my life the week before but I knew I had something important to say. This meant a lot to me and standing up there I felt like it wasn’t just me but the urostomy community as a whole highlighting this much-needed subject that impacts us every time we go into hospital. I am very lucky to have amazing friends with me who helped calm me down and I am very grateful to all of them. I really enjoyed delivering the presentation and I was blown away by the amazing feedback. It was a chance to also highlight that this preliminary research will now be taken on as an official study which is a big win for the urostomy and urinary diversion (mitrofanoff and neobladder) community. Richard a researcher from Colostomy UK helped me with this and when I saw him and Libby afterwards there were a few tears of gratitude.

What an incredible 2 weeks 2

When the conference closed on Tuesday 11th I was planning to go straight to The Academy of Fab Stuff event called Super at Six in Birmingham sharing best practice in the NHS. However, I was very tired and decided it was probably best to go home and sleep.

National Diversity Awards Ceremony in Liverpool

I had a few days rest until Friday 14th September where I travelled to Liverpool (what an amazing city) to attend The National Diversity Awards in Liverpool Anglican Cathedral. I was shortlisted for the category ‘Positive Role Model for Disability’ and was asked to attend the event alongside 7 other awesome shortlisted nominees. To be honest, I was in complete shock I was nominated let alone to get shortlisted so, I felt like a winner just by being there and speaking to some incredible people.

The venue was out of this world and it just felt really magical! When Warwick Davies won ‘Celebrity of the Year Award category’ he began his speech by saying “Welcome to Hogwarts…” which was very fitting!

What an incredible 2 weeks 3

My mum was my plus one and was really looking forward to attending. Due to Steve’s operation being cancelled he was also able to attend which meant a lot. All 3 of us got dressed up and were looking forward to the evening. It truly was magical and the food was another level! When they got to the presenting I felt a bit nervous but to be honest, I seriously didn’t think I would win and I was really enjoying the atmosphere and energy.

Then it was my category and I listened while all our names got read out! I felt super proud listening to the bio about me and mentioned ostomy awareness but also the work I do regarding urostomy awareness campaigning amongst the general public and healthcare professionals. As the names got read out, I looked to the other table who I thought may have won ready to clap and suddenly they announce my name ‘Rachel Jury’…

What an incredible 2 weeks 5

Well…the shock on my face must have been a picture! I started making my way to the front shaking and just completely bewildered. While this was happening 3 videos from Steve, Stephie and Louise got shown which were really lovely and what they said about me. While that was going on I was introduced to the presenters of the award Ash Palmisciano and a guy representing the sponsor of that award Blackberry. Brian Dowling commented on my shaking and I also got meet him and Ana Matronic (from Scissor Sisters). A picture was taken and then I went to the stand. The picture below was when I was looking out in complete shock and astonishment where I put a hand on my forehead in disbelief.

What an incredible 2 weeks 7

Once the videos had stopped it was my turn to speak. Well, the tears started and I announced that I was in shock, that I had no speech prepared and instead spoke from the heart. I thanking my family, Steve, my friends and said how this is a win for the ostomy community as a whole and shows that you can live life to the fullest with 1 or 2 stoma bags. Short and sweet but I think it came across well. I then had to do an interview and some more photos where I clocked my mum hysterically crying in pure happiness and we had this picture taken of us.

What an incredible 2 weeks 4

I have nearly died many times and my family have been through so much but to show I have now turned it around and mum attending with me meant the world.

We watched all the other category winners and managed to speak to lots of people after. I met some awesome people on my table iichild and the incredible work they do, some lovely ladies from Safe Haven and an awesome lady up for lifetime achiever award called Anne Ross. There was an after party which was brilliant meeting many other people and catching up with Simon again.

What an incredible 2 weeks 6

The next day I met up with another ostomate, Sue who I very much look up to regarding the work she does with physicians and research. The night before I was talking to Sammy Davies (Warwick’s wife to get a spare pouch signed for somebody) but unfortunately I had missed them but we messaged and met up on the Saturday. It was lovely meeting Warwick but for me, it was all about Sammy. She had recently had sepsis and we had a huge connection and that will stay with me forever!


What an incredible 2 weeks 12

Steve and I travelled back to Birmingham and my mum back to South Wales. I was still in shock but I felt proud thinking of the broken, lost girl I was to the award I have just won being a ‘role model’.

Talking at the ‘Capital Market Days’ in Copenhagen

I had a day’s rest before I was due to fly to Copenhagen early Monday morning. Originally, Steve got asked to do this but had to decline due to his surgery date (however this did get pushed back in the end) I was due to fly to Copenhagen and I have never flown on my own before. I was nervous but I knew this would be another personal accomplishment. A blog post will follow about this soon.


What an incredible 2 weeks 8

I arrived in Copenhagen, rehearsed the interview with the Director of Communications for Coloplast and that night had a lovely meal with Anne-Marie.

What an incredible 2 weeks 9

On Tuesday I had the lovely Thalia Skye looking after me and keeping me company. The room was full of bankers, analysts and journalists mainly for a side of the business I had not previously have thought about. The interview on stage went really well and the questions although different were very interesting and thought-provoking. This was the first time a product user had been on stage at this kind of event. I spoke to many people and then eventually had to say my goodbyes to Thalia not before I gave her some British tea and made my way to the airport.

What an incredible 2 weeks 10

I flew back through the storm last week and I wasn’t too bad. I have ticked another personal goal off and have proven I can fly on my own!

Back in Bournemouth

I arrived back here last Friday and have been busy with a sigmoidoscopy and some more speaking events this week.

However, I feel this weekend I really need a break and will be switching my social media off tonight and just stop. I feel a bit overwhelmed and I think need a moment to ground myself do the hobbies I enjoy (chess, reading and some art) so I can come back stronger next week.

Thank you for reading and for all your continued support.

Rachel x


Source – Rocking2Stomas

A transgender vicar has led a unique project to bring together a collection of churches to foster better diversity in the Church of England.

Twelve churches in Manchester have joined together to form the first inclusive deanery.

Canon Rachel Mann was inspired to act partly following the case of a 14-year-old girl who took her own life after believing the church would not accept her as a gay Christian.

The Withington Deanery sees each church commit to accepting all people, regardless of their race, sexuality, gender or disabilities.

Canon Mann, rector of the Church of St Nicholas in Burnage, became one of the first transgender priests to be ordained in the Church of England.

She said she knows what it is like to experience life “on the margins” of society.

Click Here To Watch Video


Source : BBC News

Parents have spoken of their wishes to build a centre for children with autism.

Aaron and Rachael Pearson are looking to raise £50,000 for the Autism Inclusion Centre. The couple, from Denmead, have a son with the condition and want to expand on Rachael’s charity Autism Isolation No More which she runs from their front room.The centre will create a place where children with autism and their families can go to have fun and relax.

Aaron and Rachael’s plans come just days after the pair were both successful in winning national awards. Rachael won the Positive Role Model for Gender Award at the National Diversity Awards after she turned their living room into a sensory space for youngsters with autism.Meanwhile, Aaron won £10,000 worth of building materials after winning Jewson’s Building Better Communities Trade Hero 2018 award.

Rachael said: ‘We want to try and buy a piece of land so we can build a log cabin and move all our services from our living room there. ‘There will be a place for all the sensory equipment and children and families can go in and relax, parents can chat and join in a play session and stay for longer.’At the moment I can only work with families on an individual basis but I want to hold group events.

That’s beneficial for the children because social interaction is more enjoyable for them.’A number of Rachael’s family members are autistic including her two sons, her brother and nephew.She added: ‘I saw the lack of support my mother had with children with autism, it affected my life. If she had support there are so many things that could have been different.

‘As a parent of a child with autism you can feel lonely, the sleep deprivation is awful.’I provide support for parents and want them to know they’re not alone, I’ll never judge.’

Rachael and Aaron will use the prize from Jewson to help start the log cabin but need funds to get it off the ground. Aaron said: ‘We’ve got the building materials now we’re basically trying to get the project off the ground.‘It’s a mission we both have and it would fulfil us.’

Anyone wishing to donate should visit autismisolationnomore.com.

Source – Written by Ellie Pilmoor & Tamara Siddiqui as featured in The News – https://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/health/denmead-parents-call-for-donations-to-help-build-autism-children-s-centre-1-8647460

Marks & Spencer has achieved what is said to be a high street first by introducing a new line of clothing catered to disabled children.

The supermarket and fashion retailer has designed easy dressing, a range of clothing designed to be easier to those with disabilities to put on and take off.

Children using wheelchairs, crutches, or who have different needs can now have all the same clothes as their able counterparts, but specifically designed for their bodies.

M&S got one mum, Emma, to try out some of the outfits on her five-year-old twins Edward and Celia.

‘There are around 1.5 million children in the UK who have a sensory or physical disability,’ explained M&S online.

‘So after talking to parents and experts, we’ve developed an easy-dressing range for kids that’s fun to wear, plus the designs are the same as our standard range, so kids have the choice to wear the same cool clothes as their friends or siblings.

‘From all-in-ones that allow for a cast (for hip dysplasia) to tees and dresses with discreet pockets for feeding tubes, the range uses the softest materials, the fewest seams possible and hidden care labels that won’t irritate sensitive skin.’

To show off the range, the company used youngsters with Down’s Syndrome, cerebral palsy, and hip dysplasia, to show off bodysuits, detachable jackets, coats, and trousers with spaces for nappies and leg openings to ensure a quick change.

Emma, who got a sneak peak of the line for her children, explained how it worked for her twins, Edward and Celia.

‘Edward has hemiplegia, which is cerebral palsy that affects his right side. He has limited control and movement in his arm and leg and epilepsy. We use a wheelchair a lot of the time, particularly when Edward’s tired,’ she said

‘That’s why this range is great. The velcro fastening down the back of the sweater and bodywarmer means I can easily get Edward ready to go out when he’s in his wheelchair.

‘I haven’t seen anything else like this before – Edward loved how cool they looked. The dress Celia wore is in the standard and adapted range too, meaning it can also be removed easily with the velcro strip. I’m sure loads of girls out there will love to wear it – Celia did!’

It’s all affordable too, ranging from £2.50 to £26. You can purchase the line here.


Source: Metro Newspaper


Mental Health and Wellbeing Charity Touchstone ranked number 1 for a second year in a row on The Inclusive Top 50 UK Employers List earlier this year, showcasing exceptional levels of representation across all protected characteristics at Senior Management, Executive and Board level. The Leeds based charity was born in 1982 after it was acknowledged that large numbers of vulnerable people were left feeling isolated and distressed. More than 30 years on and Touchstone provide services to over 6,000 people per year, aiming to make the cities they work in more culturally competent. Their strong submission showcases phenomenal commitment to diversity across various topics including recruitment, training, community initiatives, employee engagement and mentoring schemes. Evidence provided is a testament to Touchstone’s passion and determination to putting equality, diversity and inclusion at the heart of the charity.

We spoke with Alison Lowe, CEO at Touchstone after they won The Diverse Company Award at The National Diversity Awards 2018. Here’s what she had to say:

What were your thoughts on the other shortlisted nominees within your category?

We were really blown away to be included alongside the quality shortlisted nominees and actually thought we would not win.

What were your thoughts after winning The Diverse Company of the Year Award?

Amazed, delighted and determined to keep up the hard work of making Touchstone, and everywhere we operate, the best and most inclusive place we can.  We recognise we can’t change the world – but we can change our little bit of it – and we will whilst ever we have the passion and resources to do so.

What reaction have you received from supporters/fellow employees since winning the award?

Our staff are really proud of our achievement and they tell us it spurs them on to be part of the inclusion solution everyday.  We have been inundated with good will and messages of support from a wide range of partners and stakeholders who are delighted for us, but also for the credit this brings on the communities we work in and with.

Now that you have won a National Diversity Award, where are you going to go from here? What are your next steps?

We are asking our Diversity Action Group to review the application we submitted to identify where we can improve in time for our next submission in 2019.  We have already identified areas of good practice from other organisations around disability practice, for example, which we are going to introduce at Touchstone to increase our inclusion practice even more.

In your own words, how do you feel the work you are carrying out is making a difference?

We feel that Touchstone is a safe place to work and receive services.  We are passionate about bringing our vision of an inclusive world for all to the widest audience possible – and by showcasing our successes on platforms such as NDA – we are spreading the love and the message that hope wins through.

Why do you think it is important to highlight Diversity, Equality and Inclusion?

Because we all matter.  We all have hearts that can be broken and hope that can be extinguished by a cruel or unthinking word. Inclusion means we give hope the heat it needs to catch fire and burn bright – long after that person is no longer here – to inspire others to do great things in the world and give life to our vision of an inclusive world.

Who or What is your inspiration?

People who can forgive and move on to be their best whilst expecting the best from others.  I suppose Nelson Mandela personifies this most aptly but anyone really who has experienced hate or injustice because of who they are but who combats this with passion and love.

What were your thoughts on The National Diversity Awards Ceremony? Did you enjoy your evening?

The National Diversity Awards were amazing.  The setting was majestic and stunning and we felt like VIPs all night long – the goody bags certainly were popular too. There was world class entertainment that met a diverse range of needs and tastes and the food was scrumptious!  We will certainly be there in 2019.


Touchstone – the Beeston based mental health and wellbeing charity – is celebrating winning the National Diversity Awards in the Diverse Company category at a star-studded night at the breathtaking Liverpool Anglican Cathedral.

The awards were held on 14 September and saw individuals and organisations from across the UK crowned the best in British diversity. A record 24,584 people nominated this year alone with an astonishing 124 nominees being recognised for their various achievements nationwide.

NDA Founder and Chief Executive Paul Sesay thanked attendees for their passion and commitment to inclusion:

“Thank You. Thank You for striving to make the world a better place to live, and thank you for your outstanding contributions to Equality, Diversity & Inclusion. You should all feel extremely proud, and we have no doubt in our minds that you will continue to make waves for a long time to come.”

Touchstone’s Chief Executive, Alison Lowe said on receiving the award:

“Touchstone is committed to inclusion and our effort is focused on achieving this for everyone. The National Diversity Awards were a brilliant way of telling the world about our passion for justice and fairness and winning the Diverse Company category was a vindication of the energy and resources we invest in delivering this vision. Thank you Paul and the team for letting our staff shine.”

Touchstone CBT Therapist, Simone Stephenson-Bellwood attended the awards with fellow colleagues.

“I’m incredibly proud working at and for Touchstone” she said. “Alison Lowe is the most inspirational leader. She leads by example and has created an environment across a large organisation where it is safe to bring your whole self to work (if you choose) and people will still support, respect and value who we are.

“We all do our best for Touchstone because our organisation genuinely cares for us and we can give that same care to our service users.”

Source – South Shields Life

Meghan Markle hails her new home city’s diversity in a heartfelt speech at Grenfell charity event.

Meghan has hailed London’s diversity as she launches her charity cookbook supporting families affected by the devastating Grenfell Tower fire.

The Duchess of Sussex, 37, said she was ‘so proud’ to live in the British capital as she delivered a three-minute speech without any notes at the launch event at Kensington Palace today.

She described how the charity cookbook was a ‘labour of love’ and a ‘passion project’ that she had been working on with the women of the Hubb Community Kitchen for the past nine months.

The Together: Our Community Cookbook, which is available in stores from today, is Meghan’s first solo project as a member of the royal family.

Addressing the women of the Hubb Community Kitchen at the event today, Meghan said: ‘I’m so privileged to know you. Working on this project for the past nine months has been a tremendous labour of love.

‘I have just recently moved to London and I felt so immediately embraced by the women in the kitchen, by your kindness and to be in this city and be in this room and see how multi-cultural it was.

Choosing to inspire,We never want to retire,

Lives to save and protect,On the past we must reflect,

We take steps forward a learn from mistakes,In life there aren’t any retakes,

The people we meet,The ones we greet,

Stand tall on your feet,Listen and watch your life is a movie- take your seat,

Love and be proud of the person you have become,Unlock the door to your dreams – you are welcome ,

Every year,We must wipe the tears and choose to cheer,

Life is tough,The road is rough,

We are at our best,So forget the rest,

We are stronger than we ever believed we were and could be,Set your soul free,

Focus on the positives and the light, Be the star that shines so bright,

People gravitate towards your kind heart, You are your own cheerleader for your team that everyone wants to be a part,

Open your mind,The treasure you can find,

Dark days do bring rain,We suffer through a lot of pain,

From our struggles we have so much to gain, So go out and dance in the rain,

The world is full of people making a change for a better, Be a go-getter,

Life is a gift, So don’t just drift,

Leave footprints in the Earth’s core, You have the world to explore,

I am so lucky and blessed, To be right here I wouldn’t have guessed,

My life went off road for a while, I have chosen to smile,

Inspired by my strength and pain, I’ve realised from my darkness I have so much to gain,

I have so much more to give, To fate we must forgive,

Turn the darkness into light, Keeping dreams and goals in sight,

Empowering and inspiring people all around, Keep your feet on the ground,

If you give your best that is all that can be asked, With many hardships you have been tasked,

The strength you show, More than you know,

Helps to inspire and empower, In kindness always chose to shower,

You are rocking life and adding your own mark, One bright and beautiful spark,

Choosing to inspire, Never wishing or wanting to retire.

Hackney Wick FC’s Bobby Kasanga has been recognised for being a positive role model through his work to deter young people from a life in gangs.

The reformed ex-gang member was “amazed, surprised, overwhelmed and grateful” to be recognised at the National Diversity Awards.

On his release from prison in 2015 he established Hackney Wick Football Club, giving the borough its first semi-professional football team in over 100 years. He was taken on to manage the Wickers Charity which works to reduce gang related crime by providing positive role models.

He also helps rehabilitate other ex-convicts by going into prisons and encouraging people to turn their lives around when they’re released. Three former prisoners now play for Hackney Wick FC’s first team.

“Before their release they got in touch, said they’d heard about the organisation and wanted to play to keep out of trouble,” said Bobby.

“Football is a unifier, you can be the biggest baddest gangster in the world but as soon as you see a football it makes you feel like a child again and you want to have a touch of the ball.

“Whilst in prison I was planning what I was going to do after my release and that’s what I’m trying to encourage more people who are in prison to do the same– there are consequences for your actions but make the most of your time there. This is what makes our organisation so unique, we’re going into prison and making a difference.”


September 17, 2018 – Sophe Ward

What can I say, I was looking forward to the Diversity awards beforehand but it out did all my expectations ten fold. It was truly what dreams are made of and an incredible night. It was an honour to be shortlisted, especially out of so many nominees but then when we got there everyone felt like a winner because we all received a beautiful certificate. Such a lovely touch that brought home how much we had achieved in reaching the place we had. 

The competition was so tough. The amazing people that filled the cathedral, well words fail me. Everyone was so incredible and have definitely filled me with motivation and drive for the future. I was so inspired,reading the stories and back stories of the other shortlisted role models that more than ever I determined to make a difference in the best way and be the best person I can possibly be.

I wear my heart on my sleeve and in the past that has made me vulnerable to been taken advantage of but through those heart breaking times, being so open and giving has made me into who I am today . How  approach life and my mission. I put others first and I don’t just fight for myself but for others and the generations to come.

Friday night was not just an achievement for me but it was a massive success for my family, friends, readers, supporters and loved ones. We all fight together and work hard to achieve our dreams. You inspire me everyday to get up and take on the day. No matter how bad my pain levels are or rubbish and rough I feel. I know I have a purpose and a job to do. I will aim to always inspire and never retire. Without my amazing support system I would not be able to experience these amazing adventures and opportunities I am being blessed with.  I am forever grateful and look forward to the future.

I need to get my head down and really continue to work hard… there isn’t any limits.

Thank you Paul Sesay for an amazing – out of this world night and being such an incredible man. You really put on a show!! A true role model, thank you!



Source – Sophantastic.org

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