What’s that old expression, ‘Always the bridesmaid, never the bride’? Well, I’ve been involved with Alopecia UK in some capacity for over 10 years and, to be honest, sometimes it doesn’t feel like we’re even invited to the wedding. Let me explain… 

Recently, Alopecia UK was nominated to be ‘Charity of the Year’ by an employee of a large company that each year selects a different charity to support. The company in question contacted us to let us know that we had been nominated and to ask us, if we were chosen, would we be happy to receive any income that would come from this initiative? They explained that they were drawing up a shortlist of charities and there would be an employee vote to determine the successful charity. There was no guarantee Alopecia UK would even be selected for the shortlist. I was also informed that previously successful charities had received in the region of £100,000 from the initiative. You only need to look at Alopecia UK’s annual accounts to know that this would be a HUGE sum of money for the charity. 

I replied with warmth and enthusiasm, explaining that we were delighted that someone had taken the time to nominate Alopecia UK and we would be over the moon to be shortlisted. (I didn’t add that if we were selected as the overall winner that my scream of delight might be heard on the moon!) 

We have recently been informed that we did not make the shortlist. I would like to say this was a big surprise but, in reality, it played out exactly as I expected it would. Over the past decade, I can think of several occasions where Alopecia UK has been nominated to be a ‘Charity of the Year’ and we have been unsuccessful. In fact, before I worked for Alopecia UK, I worked for a private sector company and couldn’t convince them to support Alopecia UK and I was an employee who had recently lost all her hair and I pleaded a very passionate case! 

The bottom line is, Alopecia UK is not a popular cause. Unless you have been directly affected, or have a loved one directly affected, alopecia can leave people thinking ‘So what?!’ Before I got alopecia myself, I would have probably felt the same. I now know that it is far more than ‘just hair loss’ but turn the clock back 15 years, I would have probably immediately scrolled past Alopecia UK when reading charity summaries to choose from.

I also understand about the other very worthy causes out there. I have supported and donated to other charities over the years. Cancer hospices, children’s charities, dementia charities and animal shelters, to name just a few that have tugged on my heart strings. And, putting it bluntly, if Alopecia UK is ever in the running against these causes, it’s highly unlikely we will ever be picked.   

The point of this blog post is not to seek pity. Many other small charities that focus on a single health issue, especially dermatology patient organisations like us, find themselves in the same boat as Alopecia UK. Part of working for a small charity is learning to live with rejection! The reason of this blog is to highlight the reality of this position and ensure our wonderful alopecia community know just how important it is that we continue to have their support and Alopecia UK continues to have brilliant people affected by alopecia doing a spot of fundraising or making a monthly donation. The £50 dress-down collection, the £3 a month donation, the £400 half-marathon sponsorship – they all add up. They really make a difference. We appreciate each and every one.  

To our Alopecia Community, please continue to know that we appreciate your support. If you have previously supported Alopecia UK, thank you. If you presently support Alopecia UK, thank you. If you are thinking of supporting Alopecia UK, please do, and thank you! 

And as a final seed to plant, if you, or someone close to you, are in a position to start a monthly donation, please consider doing that. Whether you can afford to give £3, £5, £10, £20 or more a month, every pound helps Alopecia UK to continue its work to improve the lives of those affected by alopecia through aims of Support, Awareness and Research.  

Start your monthly donation to Alopecia UK today

PS. Although we have not been successful with this ‘Charity of the Year’ nomination, please, please, please continue to nominate us. While we may not be chosen, it does help to build awareness and others may find AUK for the first time as a result.