Sophie who has a birthmark on her forehead smiles at the camera wearing a white t-shirt

BBC Lifeline Appeal 2021

Changing Faces was proud to be featured on BBC One for their May BBC Lifeline Appeal, presented by Gail Porter. Find out more and how you can still support the appeal.

We were delighted that the BBC chose to feature Changing Faces for their May Lifeline Appeal (the BBC’s monthly charity appeal programme).

Please, could you help more young people with visible differences today, by supporting our appeal?
You can still support the appeal

Why support our appeal

More than 3.5 million children and young people throughout the UK self-identify as having a visible difference, such as a scar, mark or condition that makes them look different. Yet many young people with a visible difference don’t get the support they need, especially when it comes to mental health.

Changing Faces knows that when we get to speak to young people and support them and their families early on, it can change lives. Our services for children and their families are completely dependent on voluntary funding – please consider helping today.

Your support will help us expand our advice and support available for children with visible differences, giving more children the support to manage their feelings and cope in social settings including key transitions like starting school.

Together, we can be there for every child with a visible difference who needs us.


Meet the young people featured in the appeal

Sophie sitting in a kitchen, facing the camera, chatting to a woman with video equipment facing away from the camera

In the appeal, Sophie, David and Marcus shared their experiences of growing up with a visible difference, and how Changing Faces was a lifeline for them. Find out more about the incredible young people behind our BBC Lifeline film.

Sophie’s story

Sophie was born with a large red birthmark on her forehead. Her mum, Frances, says that hurtful comments have come from both strangers and even family who have said things like, “such a shame about that birthmark”, and suggested, “she should have it surgically removed”.

Sophie first got in touch with Changing Faces when she was 11 because she wanted to try out some of the charity’s skin camouflage products. While using skin camouflage helped, as her confidence grew she decided she no longer needed to wear it.

I decided not to cover up my birthmark at secondary school because I wanted to be me. I got a few comments and stares at first, but it was when I was 13 I was bullied by one boy quite badly. He would shout things at me and call me ‘iron burn’ when he walked past. It went on for weeks.

Working with the charity over the last few years has helped Sophie grow in confidence and cope with the stares and comments that she still occasionally gets. She now shares her experiences to help other young people.

Marcus’ story

Marcus was born with a cleft palate and has had over 20 operations, leaving him with facial scars.

When Marcus was about eight years old his mum Sam became very worried about him: “he went from being this bright, bubbly little boy, to being very quiet and I knew something was really wrong.”

Marcus admitted he was being bullied at school because of how he looked and was frequently called names like ‘scar face’ and ‘Joker’.

After contacting Changing Faces, Sam and Marcus went along to one of our parent and child workshops. Sam says she’ll never forget that day.

Marcus got to meet other children that look different and I got to meet the parents. What an eye opener. I wasn’t the only one, and the fact that Changing Faces had already helped these other parents gave me hope that they could help us, too.

Sam, Marcus’ mum

Changing Faces also supported Marcus’ school on how to talk about visible difference. Marcus says: “school life definitely got better because the bullying stopped, my classmates understood more and they just started treating me like there wasn’t anything different.”

Tulsi’s story

When Tulsi was ten years old she was in a plane crash in which she lost her immediate family and sustained second and third-degree burns to 45% of her face and body. For years Tulsi was bullied for how she looked which affected her mental health and led to feelings of low self-worth.

Tulsi has worked tirelessly alongside Changing Faces as an ambassador to be a force for change for every individual living with a visible difference. This includes sharing her experiences as part of the charity’s Visible Hate campaign, as well as being a model for Avon as part of the Changing Faces ‘Pledge To Be Seen’ campaign which calls on brands to feature more people with a visible difference in their campaigns.

I have now accepted my scars and wouldn’t want to change them now. I want to portray them in a positive light. I wear my scars with pride as each has its own journey and story to tell.

David’s story

13-year-old David has a skin condition which means his skin blisters all the time and he can’t do the activities he loves, such as football or rugby, because his skin will rip or tear. David has to use daily ointments and creams to stop his skin from getting infections.

David’s earliest memories of primary school are of being bullied by children who would call him names such as ‘cornflakes’, ‘scabby’ and ‘flaky’.

Moving up to secondary school was really good. I just started talking to people and I made a lot of new friends pretty quickly. Just because of the confidence I found from Changing Faces.

David’s dad says they were very worried: “it was devastating to think that your kid didn’t want to go to school because nobody would talk to him, nobody would go near him, nobody would touch him, nobody would want to play with him.”

With the support of Changing Faces, David has regained his confidence and learnt to cope with any comments or stares.

Please support our appeal to ensure we can be there to support every child living with a visible difference who needs us.

You can still support the appeal

How does Changing Faces support young people?

Changing Faces provides the UK’s only counselling and wellbeing service for children experiencing mental health problems because of their appearance, and our support has become even more important during the pandemic.

We run workshops for children and families, and provide access to our Skin Camouflage Service. We also provide guidance for children, parents and families, with advice and tools to help build confidence, reduce worries and anxiety, and cope with other people’s reactions.

Leaving school and working with Changing Faces over the past few years has helped me grow in self-confidence to the point where I no longer feel the need to cover my birthmark.

Sophie, who was born with a birthmark on her forehead

Get support

If you, or someone you know, needs support in relation to their visible difference, Changing Faces can help.

Find out about the services available to you and read our advice and guidance for children, parents and families. We also offer confidential practical, emotional and wellbeing support via our Support and Information Line.

Marcus, who has facial scars on the right side of his face, wearing a black hat and grey hoodie, looks towards the camera with a slight smile

Support our work

Marcus was bullied at school was called names like ‘scar face’ and ‘Joker’. Changing Faces supported his school on educating the children about visible difference and the bullying stopped. Our services are completely dependent on voluntary funding – please consider helping today.

Support the appeal

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