Sheetal, mother of Sia and Vian, aged 4 and 6 who both have allergies, has worked closely with the Anaphylaxis Campaign, using our resources and information to improve awareness of allergies at her children’s school and developing a mutually supportive relationship.
Here she shares her feelings and experiences about that journey.
Sia, aged 6 and Vian aged 4 both have allergies. With Sia being anaphylactic to dairy, nuts and peanuts, Sheetal expressed her concerns about Sia starting school in 2016.
“1 week before Sia started school, I was very anxious about her inability to express how she was feeling when suffering from a reaction. I arranged a meeting with our chosen school beforehand. In the meeting I explained Sia’s allergies and symptom and gave a demonstration as to how to use her adrenaline auto-injectors using trainer pens and encouraged staff to take up anaphylaxis training.”
“I provided staff with a personalised drawstring bag with a photo of Sia on it, this was labelled with her condition and an emergency phone alongside a care plan. I also took the time to work with the catering and lunchtime staff to make sure they understood what to do in an emergency.”
Whilst this process was time consuming and at times challenging, Sheetal feels that it helped her to establish a mutually supportive relationship with the school and reassure her that they were fully equipped to deal with her daughters’ allergies.
Sheetal worked alongside the school, with regular meetings to ensure that the processes were maintained, and risks were managed. To further raise awareness, Sheetal coordinated a fundraising event in support of The Anaphylaxis Campaign In June 2019, holding assemblies using the KS1 and KS2 assembly presentations and resources and following this up with a mufti day, in which children donated £1 and wore a wristband or orange wig to show their support for Anaphylaxis Awareness Week.
Sheetal praised the Anaphylaxis Campaign’s fundraising team in being pivotal in making sure the awareness raising and fundraising events were a success.
“I had parents telling me how impressed they were that their children learnt so much in the assemblies and how they associated the orange wigs to ‘allergy day’ at school! At such a young age and especially at the age of 3 and 4 that is amazing!”
Now that Vian is about to start school, Sheetal feels much more confident in how to manage his allergies.
Her top tips for engaging schools in better allergy management practices and increase awareness of allergies are as follows:
- Ensure that you arrange a meeting with the school before finalising your choice to ensure the school will be happy to meet your child’s needs.
- Arrange a meeting with the head, welfare officer and teacher once you have been offered a place to discuss your child’s needs and how the school can help.
- Ensure you have a detailed medical plan with a clearly labelled medical bag that stands out and has everything your child may need in emergency. Make sure that this is easily accessible to staff.
- Have a medical bracelet made for your child – this could help save their life in the event they are unable to communicate what is happening to them.
- Keep in regular contact with the school and with the teacher on a daily basis – a home/school book for written communication could help with this.
- Teach your child to read ingredients as soon as they are able to read.
- Be safer with a packed lunch and / or meet with the catering team to see what they can offer.
- Volunteer on the school trips if possible.
- Spread the word to class friends and parents – more awareness is always a good thing and it’s better to be safe than sorry! This can be encouraged through play dates.
- Communicate as much as possible about allergies and the support available from charities such as The Anaphylaxis Campaign to raise much needed awareness and support
Anaphylaxis Campaign’s resources to help schools be allergy aware
As part of our Making Schools Safer Project, we have been in contact with over 28,000 schools in the UK to give them access to our free resources including;
- Our online e-learning course AllergyWise for Schools which is designed to ensure that all staff:
- Understand how to safeguard children with allergies.
- Are fully aware of the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis.
- Know how to provide emergency treatment.
- Our KS1-2 Schools allergy awareness resource pack which is designed to facilitate an allergy awareness session for infant and primary school age children.
- Our KS3-5 Schools allergy awareness resource pack which is designed to facilitate an allergy awareness presentation for secondary school age children.
The Anaphylaxis Campaign believes it is vital for all schools to not only have training for all staff but to also raise pupil’s awareness of the seriousness of living with a food allergy. We hope our resources will support this and help schools become more allergy aware.
All our schools’ resources are available to view and download on our website:
- AllergyWise for Schools
- KS1-2 resource pack – as used in the school’s fundraising event
- KS3-5 resource pack
For information on fundraising for the Anaphylaxis Campaign at school, please see here.
We can provide advice and encouragement as well as supply sponsor forms and literature about the Campaign to assist with your fundraising events. Please contact us via [email protected] to discuss your plans.
If you have any concerns or questions, please contact our helpline team at [email protected] or call 01252 542029 for support from 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday.