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Since the Anaphylaxis Campaign was founded 25 years ago hospital admissions for children and young people has increased sharply with latest figures from NHS Digital showing a 70% rise in children under 18 in the last five years.
Although there is no single cause for the rising prevalence of allergy and numerous possible reasons are still under debate, it’s important that the right support and information is available to those affected.
Living with the risk of anaphylaxis can be stressful for both parent and child and we receive a high number of calls to our National Helpline concerning children and young people, including questions on bullying and the psychological impact of having an allergy. We’ve created educational and supportive initiatives to make sure young people are not only safe but also feel supported throughout their development.
In schools, we believe staff should be regularly trained on how to deal with allergies and anaphylaxis. Medications such as auto adrenaline injectors (AAIs) should always be available and pupils should not be excluded from activities because of their allergies.
We offer free primary and secondary resources as part of our Making Schools Safer Project which include lesson plans and assembly presentations, and this year the number of downloads of these resources has increased by over half (52%) showing a growing interest in allergy awareness.
Parents and carers of young children, as well as school staff, can also take our free 45-minute online AllergyWise courses to gain a greater understanding of what anaphylaxis is and how to respond in an emergency situation.
16 to 25 year olds are a high risk group, disproportionately more prone to die from an allergic reaction than other age groups. As they reach adulthood, they may engage in more risk taking behaviour including experimenting with new foods, travelling alone or with friends, reluctance to share information and resistance to carrying AAIs on them at all times.
Some young people can often feel embarrassed when speaking about their allergy, and working with the Food Standards Agency and Allergy UK, the #EasytoASK campaign aims to empower young people, make them aware of their right to safe food, and raise awareness amongst peers and food businesses.
University will often be the first-time they have to manage their allergies on their own and many face challenges living in shared accommodation and going on nights out. We provide more information on these subjects on our website.
In 2020, we’re planning to host our first Teen Away Days aimed at 11 to 17-year olds who have severe allergies. These events are designed to encourage individuals to share their experiences in a supportive environment and build confidence within their peer group.
Our Chief Executive Lynne Regent said:
“As young people are more at risk it’s very important that those who work closely or spend time with children and young people are knowledgeable on what to do in the event of a severe allergic reaction.
“It’s also not just about creating a safer environment, but ensuring young people aren’t excluded and that they feel supported and confident to discuss their allergies.”
The Anaphylaxis Campaign is the only UK charity operating solely for the people at risk from severe allergic reactions www.anaphylaxis.org.uk. If you have an allergy or care for someone who does or if you work in education, healthcare or the food industry and need information or support on allergies, you contact our helpline team by calling 01252 542029 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.