Vanilla Blush's award winning CEO, Nicola Dames, celebrates World Ostomy Awareness Day 2017, which takes place Saturday October 7, with the launch of SED - the Stoma Equality and Diversity campaign. 

Nicola, who has had her Stoma since 2006, said: "We have always aimed to put people with Stomas at the table of normality. It is important that people who have a Stoma are represented on Equality and Diversity Boards.

"The launch of our Stoma Equality and Diversity campaign allows the public-sector, the private-sector and the third-sector to access our wealth of experience and expertise to make their places of work become more inclusive by becoming Stoma-friendly."

The Dublin-born international businesswoman added: "What has become clear is that there is still very little understanding of what it is like to have a Stoma. Ten years ago, Vanilla Blush set the ball rolling for smashing the taboo of Colostomy and Ileostomy embarrassment by launching live on ITV's 'This Morning Show'. That legacy of secrecy and shame has largely been destroyed, especially with the help of great people and great groups, such as Colostomy UK.

"However, we are continually reminded that there is much work still to be done. To put it bluntly, if you don't have a Stoma, then the general advice is to listen and learn. Knowing that we have psychological as well as physical support. Knowing that our individual needs are being listened to. Knowing that our NHS care is person-centred, not accounts-centred. These matter when it comes to quality of life issues for the person with the Stoma."

Nicola concluded: "And this is about continual learning and education for everyone involved. Our expertise and experience will continue to help those involved in the broad Stoma community, including the NHS. 

"At the end of the day, every workplace must remember that unless you walk in our shoes - and wear our Stoma bags - then you, even as a health professional, are going to struggle to fully understand what it is to have a bum on your belly. This is why we are launching SED."

A spokesperson for the Colostomy UK, a leading charity in the field, said: "It is a great idea from Vanilla Blush, and we at the Colostomy UK  will be at hand to help Nicola help others any time she needs. Stoma support in the workplace is the new inclusive."

SED (the Stoma Equality and Diversity campaign) has a five-point programme:

(1) Time investment to advise Public Sector, Private Sector and Third Sector 'Equality and Diversity Inclusion Boards';

(2) Production of 'Equality and Diversity' programmes and classes for Stoma-education of non-Stoma aware colleagues;

(3) Production of working fundamentals as base to policy. Examples: a group support attitude of "non-victimhood"; practical support of Stoma supplies for unforseen occasions; the use of the top line educational awareness programme based on "we all poo and we all wee...";

(4) Time investment to offer individual support and representation within a work environment in the event a person with a Stoma requests additional articulation and support; 

(5) Help Human Resource departments formulate policies and practices which are inclusive of people with Stomas.