|Wigs With Dignity|
Wigs with Dignity
Question for you Mr Cameron & Mr Clegg
Why can't women choose the wig they want with their NHS grant?
They're not even asking for more money, just the right to select one that restores their self-confidence
Hairdresser and mum-of-three Alison Kirkham has launched a one-woman campaign to press the Government to allow hair-loss victims the dignity of choosing their own wigs at a time when their self-confidence may have been shattered.
Alison looks as confident as she feels
in her new Dimples lightweight wig.
Alison before her hair loss
Called Wigs with Dignity, she embarked on her fight after discovering that NHS grants towards wigs for patients suffering illness-induced hair loss could only be used on a limited range of wigs.
When she offered to put in her own money to top up the grant to meet the cost of a newly launched ultra lightweight wig from one of Britain's longest established distributors she was told she would have to foot the whole bill herself.
"I was furious," said Alison, from Nottingham, a 43 year old who started losing her hair three months ago when she began taking a course of powerful drugs to treat the auto-immune condition that has left her utterly debilitated.
"I had been wearing one of the very basic wigs that you can use on the grant but I was totally depressed. It felt so not right that I wouldn't leave the house. What's more it is far from comfortable so I couldn't wear it for any length of time."
Then Alison was introduced to a newly released ultra-lightweight Premier Collection wig from British distributor Dimples by Nottingham wig specialist Michael Rivelli of Rivelli Capelli in Victoria Street and she was delighted with the result.
"It is lightweight, doesn't slip, looks natural and costs just £250," explained Alison. "I had grant vouchers to the value of £150 and was prepared to find the extra cash to top up the vouchers but was told I wasn't allowed to do that.
"I think it is disgraceful when women like me are desperately trying to retain some of the dignity that is often shattered when you have to cope with debilitating conditions. I'm not asking for more money from the Government but just the right to choose the wig I want to wear."
Now after writing about her campaign to Nottingham Labour representative, Emilie Oldknow, she has received a letter saying: "I promise to you that I will fight to make sure this is changed.
"I find it unacceptable that the NHS - with all the billions of pounds spent every year - cannot provide the full amount for a decent, comfortable wig."
Conservative winning MP Mark Spencer replied to Alison's letter with the words: "I will pursue the dept of health for information and clarification and seek to change the rules you mention that prevent patients from adding their own money to the best result for themselves.
"I very much recognise the importance of self confidence, to be able to function as a "normal person".
Alison added: "My condition is not life threatening but it is severely debilitating and the hair loss I have suffered was a major blow to my self-confidence. I've now heard of other women who are having the same problem so I'm determined to see if the politicians can help us."
Michael of Rivelli Capelli said: "I can sympathise with Alison because losing one's hair really is devastating. We see many hair loss victims experiencing this confusion with NHS vouchers and we do our utmost to find the right wig at the right price for everyone.
"However, in Alison's case it was vitally important that the wig she chose not only looked right but felt right. I introduced her to the Premier Collection because they are so lightweight. Once she tried it she was determined to have it, but as you can only use NHS vouchers on specific brands of wigs, it was out of her price range.
"We put a lot of time into finding the right wigs for NHS patients and often negotiate with the local NHS and manufacturers to get the best price for the client. But this can be a stressful time for all."
Alison added: "I can't thank Michael enough for all his help and guidance but I'm asking the MP and the NHS to look more sympathetically at hair loss victims and help them to get through their health crises with dignity.
"And the first step could be allowing us to use our NHS vouchers towards whichever wig suits us best as individuals."
You can show your support for Alison's campaign and follow it's progress on Facebook - just search for "Wigs with Dignity".
Alison's husband Tony has wasted no time in going straight to the top, a recent entry on their Facebook wall says:
" I'm on a roll tonight. Have just e-mailed David Cameron and Nick Clegg asking them to have a look at our campaign and sort the inequality out. Nothing like going straight to the top!!!"
UKHairdressers wishes Alison every success in her worthy campaign, it will make such a difference to the lives of people who have suffered hair loss through illness.
We look forward to bringing you news of progress soon.....