ON THE GROUND: Incontact

Scheme: Programme to produce a series of educational booklets and factsheets, providing accessible information about the causes, treatments and self-help for incontinence

Funding: £132,711 over three years from the Community Fund and £9,750 from the Grand Charity

Objectives: To break down some of the isolation felt by sufferers and the taboos surrounding incontinence problems

Incontact provides information and support for people affected by severe bladder and bowel conditions. Formed in 1989, the charity aims to raise awareness of the problem and to ensure that sufferers have access to the help they need.

To this end, it has persuaded the Community Fund to provide funding for 400,000 books and 100,000 factsheets over the next three years.

This is necessary because of the lack of available independent material on the subject, according to Incontact's executive director Jolyon Rose.

"The existing information is provided by commercial companies which produce one-sided leaflets about their products. There hasn't been a concerted effort to collate the best information and combine it into an independent book on the subject that will help everyone's needs."

But thanks to the scheme, now there will be. "Six million people are affected in some way, yet you never hear about it,

says Rose. "Most people affected don't know where help is available. There needs to be awareness and the books and factsheets will help achieve this and offer advice in a user-friendly way about the range of bladder and bowel problems. Of which there are four to five different types."

Incontinence is slightly more common among women because it relates to childbirth and increases in 50 to 60 year olds after the menopause. Older men tend to suffer from it if they experience problems with the prostate gland.

The literature will be introduced in stages from early autumn and Incontact will launch the idea of the factsheets at its conference: Bladder and Bowel Problems - meeting others, finding out more on 4-5 September.

People need to find out more too, says Rose. "We aim to tackle the taboos and make people realise incontinence is a common complaint.

Our research shows that one in 10 adults are affected by the condition.

As a result many people fail to seek help. Then they become isolated and are often afraid to go out or to receive visitors."

Incontact works in partnership with the NHS and health professionals to draw up guidelines surrounding the problem. It also provides training and advice for health workers and for people who are interested in setting up local support groups.

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