A mum who discovered her son has food intolerances has set up a business to help others in the same position.
Sarah Collins, 30, from Golcar in Huddersfield, has established Allergy Buddies after discovering last year that her son Riley, who will turn two on April 24, was intolerant to some foods.
Now, to mark Allergy Awareness Week, which runs from April 22 to 28, she is hoping her newly-launched products and her free online forum will help raise awareness of the problems as well as supporting other parents.
It took us months to find out what was making Riley ill, but eventually we worked out that he was sick after having anything with dairy or eggs in it. We also think he has problems with citric acid and he’s got bad hayfever and pet allergies.
We were being really careful about what we fed him and then, on his first good day in about two months, I took him to a Christmas party.
I looked round at one point to find him walking up to me eating some chocolate which someone had unwrapped for him and my heart sank. I knew it had been done out of kindness, but it would mean we were back to having a poorly and miserable baby for a few days.
However, it also gave me the inspiration for Allergy Buddies.
Sarah decided to create a business which was aimed directly at parents of youngsters with allergies and intolerances. Allergy Buddies products include t-shirts, stickers, bags and keyrings, making sure children’s food problems are easy to spot so teachers, carers and other parents don’t give them something which will make them ill.
With up to half of children in the UK now thought to suffer from some form of allergy or intolerance, Allergy Buddies is already proving hugely popular.
Food allergies and intolerances vary in their severity, but even when the reaction is fairly mild it can be a nightmare for parents to try to keep their child away from whatever is causing the problem – particularly in social situations.
As well as being a practical solution, the Allergy Buddies products have fun characters on them so children will enjoy wearing them and using them, which is really important.
So far, all the products have been well received by other parents and carers, who have also enjoyed being able to share their experiences with each other on the Allergy Buddies Facebook page. Sarah hopes Allergy Awareness Week will bring new visitors to the group who might need support and help from existing members.
Looking after a child who has allergies and intolerances is hard work, especially if you’re not sure what it is that’s making them react,” she said.
I know how helpful I find it to be able to speak to other people who understand what I’m going through and can give me advice. Having access to so much support online gives you encouragement and inspiration when things get really tough, and you can then share your own success with other people who need help.