Changing Faces (charity)
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Changing Faces is a United Kingdom charity supporting and representing children, young people and adults who have disfigurements to the face, hands or body, whether present from birth or caused by accident, injury or by illness or medical episode. It campaigns to change public opinion and combat discrimination, and to help and support those with a visual difference.
The charity was founded in 1992 by Dr James Partridge OBE, who sustained severe burns injuries in a car fire when he was 18 years old. He wrote about the experience in a book, titled 'Changing Faces', in the late 1980s, and was persuaded to set up the charity after speaking about it with doctors from University College Hospital in London.
Changing Faces today
Changing Faces provides psychological support for people who have disfigurements through advice, information, counselling and workshops across the UK. They also provide advice to health professionals, teachers and employers and run training courses and study days to enable professionals to develop effective clinical services, inclusive school curricula and clear equal opportunities and training policies.
Modern reconstructive surgery and other medical treatments can be effective in making a disfigurement much less noticeable but a disfigurement can rarely be removed completely. Some scarring, asymmetry or change in complexion usually remains. Changing Faces complements medical and surgical interventions by addressing the psychological and social challenges posed by disfigurement. All their services are underpinned by academic research and informed by service users including a Young People's Council.
The charity's Face Equality campaign aims to ensure that people with disfigurement are treated without prejudice or discrimination. The campaign targets employers, schools, health care professionals, the media, policy makers and the general public, and has used posters featuring adults and children with facial disfigurement that have appeared on the London Underground and across England.
As part of the 'Face Equality' campaign, in November 2009 Partridge presented the lunchtime news bulletins on UK television channel Five all week. "We hope it will make viewers examine their own prejudices", commented Five News chief Chris Shaw.
'What Success Looks Like' is the name of the charity's campaign to transform the treatment of disfigurement in the workplace. Through with employers and industry bodies, it aims to inform business leaders and human resource managers about disfigurement, and also help people living with a visual difference to overcome barriers.
In 2012, the British Red Cross transferred its Skin Camouflage Service to Changing Faces. According to the charity's website, 'for someone living with scarring or a skin condition that affects their appearance and confidence, specialist camouflage products offer a way to cope'. The service 'helps individuals to regain self-confidence and independence', and now operates at more than 120 locations throughout the UK, with exceptionally high demand leading to significant waiting times in some areas.
The chief executive is Dr James Partridge OBE and chair is David Clayton, a businessman. The charity employs more than thirty staff who work throughout the UK.
Their patrons include actor Michelle Dockery, comedian Rory Bremner, actor William Simons, Lord Fellowes of West Stafford, Simon Weston OBE, poet Benjamin Zephaniah, and comedian and actor Jan Ravens.