Our campaigners programme is a vital part of how we raise awareness about what life is like living with a visible difference. Each year, we’re joined by a new group of brilliant individuals who volunteer to share their stories and experiences to help others with a visible difference feel supported and heard, and to challenge discrimination and negative stereotypes.
This year, we had an incredible number of applications, with every person who applied sharing a powerful story about their own experiences. It was a tricky shortlisting process, because we can only accept a limited number of campaigners each year. Thank you to everyone who put themselves forward to be a volunteer campaigner.
We now have a group of campaigners from across the UK who each have a unique story to tell. Here’s why they’re looking forward to being part of the programme:
“In 2019 I was told the devastating news that I had a cancerous tumour in my upper jaw, that needed urgent surgery to be removed to save my life. My appearance changed overnight – something I wasn’t ready for. I would look in the mirror and see a different person to who I thought I was.
“This is why I have chosen to become a campaigner. I wasn’t born with a visible difference; I was lucky enough to live for 58 years without this challenge, but I know there will be other people who will experience similar journeys in the future. I want to be able to help them.” – Gary
“I am really looking forward to the opportunities ahead to share my story and contribute to the fight against discrimination towards those with a visible difference. I also can’t wait to see how much I grow in confidence, and I’m excited about meeting some lovely people along the way!” – Stacey
“People with visible differences are all on unique journeys and have incredibly valuable stories to tell. I’m so pleased to have been chosen as a Changing Faces campaigner, where I can join others like me in the celebration of who we are.” – Rhiannon
“Discriminatory incidents are experienced by many people with facial differences. Overcoming such challenges has helped me to build resilience and become the person I am today. I now have a Master’s degree, a PhD and a successful career working in education, and have never allowed my negative experiences to hold me back from achieving my goals. I hope that my experiences can help others to overcome the prejudice they face in their own lives.” – Chris
“I’m really looking forward to being a campaigner for Changing Faces because the charity means so much to me. Their work has changed my life, so I want to be able to give back and help those with a visible difference feel less alone. Hopefully I can educate others along the way about what life is like for those who look different.” – Bronwen
“I’m looking forward to being able to share my journey and experiences with a wider audience and campaigning for the equality of people with visible differences. Keeping the conversation going and letting others know they are heard are two of the things I’m most passionate about, so I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of this group.” – Allie
“I lost my hair three and a half years ago after my father died. I lost my sense of self, identity and didn’t recognise the new person in the mirror. It’s been a tough few years but following Changing Faces and the accounts of inspiring people with a visible difference has really encouraged my own acceptance.
“I want to normalise female baldness, and promote kindness, empathy and respect to all with a visible difference.” – Zelda
“As a child there was limited awareness and resources available to support me with my visible difference. I often felt alone, different and as if something was wrong with me.
“I want to be that reassuring and understanding voice I needed at seven years old when I thought the name calling would never end. I want to help people of all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, genders and more to look beyond the visible difference and realise that these differences do not define or limit individuals.” – Richard
“It’s not right that every day I have to explain to strangers why I look different. I’m not the only one – we shouldn’t have to explain. That’s why I’m excited to be campaigning with Changing Faces, in the hope that we change things for those with visible differences by being more visible and vocal about what we experience.” – John
“I want to encourage, embolden and inspire my peers. I want to be a positive example for those with visible differences, who like me at one stage, couldn’t see where they fit. I want to challenge beauty ideals and stretch the concepts of disability and ‘normal’. I want to make people stare, but in a good way. For the first time in my life, I want to be seen instead of being invisible.” – Mel
“I’m excited to be a campaigner to use my voice to spread awareness of visible differences, to advocate for a brighter future for those with visible differences and to empower others with visible differences to achieve their potential.” – Cari
“I’m looking forward to being a campaigner so I can raise awareness of what it’s like to live with a visible difference and offer support to others like me. I believe people should not judge us by what we look like; we should be treated the same as everyone else.” – Hannah
“The only way that the experiences of people with a visible difference can improve is through other people becoming more aware of how having a visible difference impacts us. Ultimately, I believe that it’s not us who should do the work, it’s society, but the only way this can happen is if people like me speak out.” – Jo
“I’ve followed Changing Faces for a while now and have always connected with the charity’s message and ethos. In my daily life, I am already confronted with educating people and to have a platform with Changing Faces will help to spread vast awareness. If this benefits just one person with a visible difference, it will be worth it to me. We need to recognise our differences and celebrate them!” – Emily
“I know how isolating it can be to have a visible difference. I am passionate about empowering others, spreading awareness, and supporting people in the community. I’d love to be a voice of support for those struggling and to show them you can be happy and live a wonderful life with a visible difference.” – Isabella
“When I was in secondary school, I realised I didn’t want to live life being worried about what everyone else thinks. Being involved with Changing Faces over the years has enabled me to speak out and become more confident. I want to help others to find that same self-acceptance.” – Sophie
“Having personally benefitted from the support Changing Faces provides, I would now like to take a more front-seat role in bringing attention to the work the charity does. I think a lot of people could benefit from being aware of the charity and the support available.” – Sudha
“Volunteering to be a campaigner for Changing Faces takes me completely out of my comfort zone. I struggle talking about my birthmark and spend most days pretending it isn’t there. The truth is, I look different and that’s okay – pretending I don’t look different isn’t really working for me. And if my work with Changing Faces helps other people realise that looking different is okay, then my world and theirs will be an infinitely better place.” – Katie
“I was at my most vulnerable when I was in my teens, and the kind of support that Changing Faces offers just didn’t seem to be available – I felt very alone, as I didn’t really know anyone else who was going through what I was experiencing. Even now, I still care too much about how I look and fear that people are judging me accordingly, and I feel that older people need support as well.
“More still needs to be done to encourage acceptance and inclusivity, at all levels, and I hope I can be part of that.” – Helen
“In the past, I’ve debated with myself whether I was worthy of support, because I didn’t feel ‘disabled enough’. I want to change that for other people in the future. We all need support and can learn through each other’s experiences of living with difference, regardless of diagnosis.” – Catherine
You’ll be hearing plenty more from all of our new campaigners over the next two years. We can’t wait to see where the programme takes them!