‘I lived in a state of chronic pain’ - Norwich barista launches online sanctuary for women with hidden health conditions

Wendy England, creator of The Patchwork Project on Cromer Beach. PICURE: Camilla Andrea

Wendy England, creator of The Patchwork Project on Cromer Beach. PICURE: Camilla Andrea - Credit: The Patchwork Project

'Welcome to the community nobody chooses to join.'

This is the greeting on Wendy England's new website Project Patchwork, an online sanctuary for women suffering with hidden and debilitating health conditions.

Miss England, from Branford Road, Norwich, said: 'I believe women are still being left behind in the medical community. Serious conditions are being misdiagnosed and women are told they are 'just too sensitive', 'it's all in your head', and to 'get on with it'.'

The 33-year-old lived with undiagnosed endometriosis for 16 years, a painful condition where tissue that behaves like the lining of the womb grows in other parts of the body.

During that time she would collapse at work and experience panic attacks.

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Miss England wrote on the site: 'Instead of compassion, I was met with pity, annoyance and a pharmacy's worth of prescriptions.

'I lived in a state of chronic pain and constant fear, with no one I could turn to for support. It got so bad I developed anxiety and went through periods of depression.'

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Last year Miss England said she felt she had leave her job in Norwich due to her condition, and found herself reaching out for 'other women like me who were looking for support'.

She said: 'It made me realise there was this missing website to link everyone together.

'There are communities for single conditions but no one place where a woman can go online which supports multiple hidden conditions.'

Every person involved in the creation of Project Patchwork is a woman who has struggled with an invisible health problem.

Miss England said: 'It's a forum, with different links to different conditions.

'There will be fact sheets in collaboration with relevant charities, and you will get your own profile.'

Lifetime membership is £33, but an early bird offer of £25 is currently available.

Miss England, currently a barista, launched a Kickstarter page last week, and hopes to raise between £5,000 and £30,000 to run the site and work on it full time.

You can donate at kickstarter.com/projects/wendyengland/project-patchwork-every-scar-tells-a-story and find the project at theprojectpatchwork.com

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