I am so excited to announce that my Spotlight of the Month for February is Natalie, also known as @theallergybadge. Natalie is an allergy mum herself and shares her experiences being an allergy mum. She has an amazing Instagram where she shares amazing information on allergies!
1. What made you want to create your social media platform?
When we first had Ella’s diagnosis of life-threatening food allergies, I felt totally lost. The information I could find wasn’t always clear about what we should and shouldn’t be doing – and I was constantly worrying about how I could keep our precious little girl safe. It took us a long time to get the answers we needed, and even when we did get them we were so scared about letting Ella out into the big wide world of nursery and then school. Through The Allergy Badge I found a platform where I could connect with other people who shared the same anxieties, and as the brand developed and moved into training, it’s become a place that I hope people will find the information they need and real sense of community, making the allergy journey we’re all on that little bit easier.
2. Do you have allergies yourself or are their people in your family that do, if so what are they allergic to?
Ella was just one year old when she was officially diagnosed with anaphylactic allergies to dairy and peanuts, but her struggles had been obvious since birth. She had a very serious reaction when she was two and the experience will never leave me. It was such a frightening time, and it made me realise how seriously I needed to take things from then on. I also have an allergy to hazelnuts, so allergies were part of my life before parenthood, but when it’s your child and the consequences can be so serious, that just takes over and you worry less about yourself.
3. Having children with allergies, do you think enough is done in schools to educate them on allergies? What would you like schools to do for children with allergies?
When Ella started pre-school, staff hadn’t had a child with such severe allergies in their care – so they asked us for our advice, which we really appreciated. We realised there was such a big knowledge gap and teachers didn’t have the training that would equip them with what they needed to ensure Ella wasn’t just safe, but could thrive. That’s when we decided to do something about it and The Allergy Badge began its mission to educate others. We’re now an accredited training centre, delivering allergy awareness and auto-injector training to schools, clubs parents and businesses. For us, it’s not just about caring for children like Ella’s physical wellbeing – but the mental wellbeing side of things that is often overlooked but makes such a difference to a child’s happiness. We want every child living with allergies to feel safe and included.
4. What advice would you give to other allergy mums out there?
You know your child best. Caring for a child with allergies is hard and can cause so much anxiety. You become a professional label reader! Triple-checking ingredients, arranging for alternatives at parties, play-dates and so on – it can be exhausting, but importantly, you can get through it. We also try to ensure allergies aren’t seen as scary or negative when we talk to Ella, it’s just part of her life that we have to manage, and we always pretend the dairy-free ice cream tastes much better!
5. What would you like people to take away from your social media platform about allergies?
Prevention is key! Processes need to be put in place beyond just how to use an auto-injector – a device that’s only used when something has already gone wrong. The more we can do to prevent that from happening, the better. With the number of children living with allergies continuing to rise, we believe this type of education should be mandatory. Until it is, we will keep on working around-the-clock to reach as many schools and businesses as possible.