The Anaphylaxis Campaign celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2019, and we are taking the opportunity to look back over our successful history. Our Honorary Vice-President David Reading formed the charity in January 1994 after his 17-year-old daughter Sarah sadly passed away following an allergic reaction to peanuts. A small group of allergy sufferers and parents of children with allergies met in London, and shortly afterwards the founders launched their first publicity campaign.
The Campaign subsequently set up its first support and education programme, in order to help the food industry and those affected by life-threatening allergies. The late 1990s saw the arrival of many of the features our members will be familiar with. After receiving £58,000 from the National Lottery grant, the Campaign opened an office in Farnborough, Hampshire. This allowed us to develop some of our most useful and successful awareness tools:
- We developed information tools including Factsheets and training courses
- We set up our national helpline with a full-time staff member operating it
- We began a series of interactive workshops for allergic teenagers
- We continued to inform and work with the food and pharmaceutical industries
March 2003 saw the arrival of our membership scheme for the food industry – in which we offered subscribers regular, high-quality news bulletins and the opportunity to attend seminars, where problems could be discussed and analysed. In 2004, the Campaign sent out the first of its food alerts by mail. This system warns people when a mistake has been made by the food industry, and informs them of products that have been taken off sale as they pose a risk to food allergic customers. Thanks to social media, the food alerts system is becoming increasingly more recognised and appreciated.
Looking to the future
Since the late 1990s, the Campaign has been holding meetings from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (now the Food Standards Agency) and the Department of Health, in order to discuss the inadequate state of allergy services across the UK.
Lynne Regent, CEO of the Anaphylaxis Campaign, is hopeful that we can continue this in the future. The charity is hoping to build on their work of the last 25 years, and continue to provide the best possible information to those living with severe allergies. We will continue this through our work with the food industry, clinicians and individuals, and by raising awareness with families affected by anaphylaxis. The charity has a number of campaigns lined up for 2019, including campaigns which will focus on schools, universities, nurseries and playgroups. We are also focusing on adults, particularly the 18-25 age group who often struggle alone with their allergies, as well as continuing to provide much needed support for bereaved families during difficult inquests.
The charity will continue to support changes to legislation, such as the recent government consultation on pre-packed food labelling. By working with the food industry, we hope to help improve the lives of people suffering with allergies, and to raise the profile of the struggles that families face.
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