Alas, it is time for me to bid farewell.  I’m both really sad, but also really excited, to tell you that I’m going to be leaving Alopecia UK at the end of May.  The time has finally come!  For the last ten years, alongside my sidekick, colleague and now good friend Amy, I’ve been at the forefront of Alopecia UK while it continued carving out its path.  Together we’ve led and pushed the charity forwards.  It’s been an incredible journey as we (alongside a growing team) filled out and developed the charity workstreams around our aims of support,  awareness and research.  It’s involved a lot of blood, sweat and tears but we turned the organisation from one with a tiny income of just £20,000 a year to one with a steady income of £250-300k, an office and six members of staff (pictured below).  Of this I am incredibly proud. 

It has been a huge emotional rollercoaster getting to this point and making the final decision to completely step away.  Alopecia UK has been a massive part of the last ten years of my life.  But, as much as I love Alopecia UK, it’s time for a change in focus and new chapter.  To explain further, I started working at another charity, PAC Therapy, early in 2021.  This was just for one day a week doing Art Psychotherapy (which is what I originally trained in). The initial intention was just to break my week up a bit, however, a month later the CEO of PAC sadly passed away and everything kind of developed from there.  PAC Therapy is another small charity and over the last year I’ve increased my days there and reduced them here at AUK.  I’m currently doing development work for them and keen on helping develop mental health services for children and young people in Cumbria, my home county. 

The time feels right.  After ten years with Alopecia UK (a mixture of volunteering and later, employment), I’ve stayed a lot longer than I ever intended (I actually promised myself I would leave when I was 35, I’m 39 this year!).  My main aim at Alopecia UK was to achieve sustainability and ensuring that no matter who comes and goes, the organisation would still stand (after seeing other organisations such as 'Hairline International' fold when their leader, Elizabeth, decided it was time to finish but had no one to hand over to). And I feel I’ve done that.  Alopecia UK is in a good position with a brilliant team (Staff, Trustee Board, Research Committee, Volunteers and Alopecia Community) and I’m sure it will now thrive in its next chapter.  I will be championing from the wings! (and ensuring I continue with my monthly donation and an annual September awareness fundraiser).

It has been an incredible journey with Alopecia UK that I will be forever grateful for.  The job has been extremely varied and taken me to all kinds of places that I never imagined, enabled me to meet lots of different people and presented me with all kinds of opportunities.  Opportunities for growth in myself, and how I think and feel about alopecia, as well as growth in the skillset that I have.  I really appreciate how creative the board has allowed us to be over the years as well as how supportive the alopecia community has been in our adventures together!  It has been a pleasure to meet and get to know so many of you over the years.  Thank you to every single one of you who have got behind the charity and its work and helped it grow to be the success it is today.  I really hope you all continue to support Alopecia UK.  I believe there have been vast improvements in lots of things related to alopecia over the last ten years but there is still much to be done and we do need a large UK based organisation with a passionate team that drives change forward, across all of the things we want – Support, Awareness and Research.  So please do support any campaigns, become a monthly donor, become a fundraiser or buy a VIP Card.  Every single bit helps!

I hope to keep in touch with Alopecia UK and I hope to still see lots of you at future events.  If I’m not volunteering, I’m sure I’ll be attending them. I’ll also be sticking around as a member of the Facebook Groups as well.  So this is not a full goodbye, more of a see you later!  It anyone wants to keep in touch you can find me over on Instagram (@justjen_public) and Twitter (@alopeciajen).

To end, I just want to say thank you.  Thank you to all of you. Thank you to Vicky and her family for setting Alopecia UK up in the first place. Thank you to the Board of Trustees (past and present) for their input, support and guidance. Thank you to our Research Committee for helping us get our Research Aim off the ground. Thank you to all of the volunteers, past and present, for all their hard work and contributions and doing their bit.  Thank you to my parents for financially propping me up, particularly so when I decided I was leaving my job and moving back in with them so I could volunteer full time for Alopecia UK!  And thank you to all of my friends and family for their support, donations, fundraising, volunteering, dog care and patience.  I really couldn't have done it all without you.  Thank you to the whole staff team for being so awesome to work with. Thank you to Sue for coming in and taking all of this on (it’s a big job!), being so brilliant at it and giving me peace of mind to feel able to leave, knowing it’s all in good hands.

And finally, a very special thank you to Amy, for being the best partner in crime, work colleague and friend I could have ever wished for to go through the last ten years with and accomplish all that we did together. I’m going to miss so many things about working with you, too many to list... but it definitely includes the way you correct my grammar (which I know you are going to have done with this blog post, thanks!).  Not sure I’ll ever get over the sheer bewilderment of the 'stationary stationery' conversation. Ah, memories!  So many good memories.  Thank you.  Everyone. I am going to miss you all. A lot. xx

Jen currently has a little farewell fundraising page should anyone impacted by Jen’s work over the last ten years feel like they would like to leave a little acknowledgement.  We know she’d be delighted to see any one-off farewell or thank you donations, or for any of you to set up a monthly donation (something Jen has been doing every month since 2007!)

Visit Jen's Farewell Fundraiser here