IA – Ileostomy & Internal Pouch Support Group

IA (the ileostomy & internal pouch) Support Group is the national charity throughout the UK and Ireland which specialises in supporting people living with an ileostomy or an internal pouch; their families, friends and carers. Formed through collaboration between surgeon and patient, IA been supporting people for over 60 years and was the first stoma patient support group in the UK.

Since our humble beginnings in Birmingham in 1956, IA has grown to become a network of groups throughout the UK & Ireland, run by volunteers, who are themselves primarily living with an ileostomy or an internal pouch.

When surgeon and founding IA President Bryan Brooke (later to become Professor Bryan Brooke) developed the ‘spouted’ stoma (Brooke ileostomy), which diverted bowel content away from the body thus preserving skin surrounding the stoma) a method still used by surgeons today, Bryan understood the difficulties that patients faced both physically and psychologically.

Bryan saw that despite the experience and extensive knowledge of the surgeon, talking to someone else who had been through a similar experience was of great benefit and therefore with their permission, Bryan connected patients to talk. From those early days this ‘visiting’ service, and IA, developed and is today one of the core services offered by IA.

IA now has a team of over 100 visitors who are themselves living life after surgery and have been trained to talk to others. IA’s Visiting Service aims to match visitor to patient in terms of gender, age and lifestyle, to provide a listening ear; a positive voice and someone who understands what living with (or living with someone who has) an ileostomy or an internal pouch is like.

Experience has shown that we should never underestimate the benefit of talking to someone who understands. Those who use our service tell us that it has helped them to speak to someone else who has been through a similar experience and talk through the things that typically only experience can offer.

Our connections with healthcare professionals remain as strong today, an ethos by which IA has lived for the last 62 years.

In addition to our Visiting Service, IA offers

  • a wealth of patient-focused literature aimed at those living with an ileostomy or an internal pouch
  • a network of local groups run by experienced volunteers offering local meetings and events
  • a quarterly Journal offering medical articles, patient stories, latest product information and readers’ letters
  • online forums enabling others to connect (anonymously, if preferred)
  • online support through our website and social media channels
  • funding into research which supports the aims of IA

In summary IA aims to help people return to a full and active life after surgery and works hard to challenge the fear and misconceptions that surround bowel surgery, whether that be for Inflammatory or other bowel-related disease, cancer, polyposis, trauma or motility issues.

If you’d like to join IA (annually £15 (if under 60) or £10 (60 or over)), or get in touch for more information or support, you can contact us:

The Crohn's and Colitis Charity


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