A NATIONAL charity based in Christchurch, which supports people who rely on artificial nutrition, is appealing for ambassadors and supporters to host fundraising activities to help support their services.

Patients On Intravenous & Nasogastric Nutrition Therapy, or PINNT hosts its national awareness week – Home Artificial Nutrition (HAN) week – at the beginning of every August, with numerous events taking place to help raise funds and awareness for the charity.

However, this year, with many patients affected by the government’s shielding advice, PINNT has been finding inventive ways to raise awareness, while keeping everyone safe.

Gary Taylor, a PINNT ambassador and HAN patient, had planned to cycle 375 miles from Christchurch to Durham, to raise awareness for the charity.

He said: “I was always planning to do an on-road bike challenge to raise awareness of PINNT during this week, but my plans were completely derailed by the coronavirus outbreak.”

Instead, he is going to take on the same challenge but from the comfort of his own living room, using Swift bike technology.

The Captain’s Club Hotel, where Gary was due to kick-start his ride is honouring their commitment to the week with activity on their social media account.

To overcome the lack of physical contact, PINNT are calling on HAN patients to set themselves a small challenge and share the results on Twitter and Facebook.

The theme for this online campaign is ‘This is Me’, highlighting how unique each patient is.

Founder of PINNT and Christchurch resident Carolyn Wheatley, said: “PINNT was faced with a huge challenge when coronavirus hit.

“We are just delighted that we’ve been able to find creative ways to engage patients, carers and the public, without compromising safety.

“It is also tremendously inspiring to see our ambassadors press on with their challenges in spite of the odds. I am very grateful to be part of such a resilient and positive organisation.”

Carolyn established PINNT in 1985, when she herself began her home artificial nutrition journey. Carolyn relies on ‘home parenteral nutrition’ (HPN), meaning that she receives all her nutrients through her central venous catheter, and is connected to her feed for 12-14 hours every day, seven days a week.

Before her medical team put her forward as a candidate for HPN - which at the time was a new form of home treatment - Carolyn was suffering from disease related malnutrition due to intestinal failure.

Her weight had dropped to just four stone and she had been given a prognosis of only months to live.

Once established on HPN and learning to live her life within its new boundaries, Carolyn regained her weight and strength and set about helping others to find support through PINNT.

Carolyn added: “Life on home artificial nutrition isn’t easy, but through PINNT we try to make it manageable. I volunteer for the organisation, but I am a patient just like everybody else. PINNT is my lifeline too.

“Although almost 50,000 people in the UK receive home artificial nutrition, there is little general awareness or understanding of what it is. They can sometimes feel isolated and misunderstood, even by healthcare professionals.

“PINNT and HAN Week have gone a long way to ensuring that patients are well connected to those undergoing similar treatment, helping them to feel less alone.

“They also promote understanding of HAN in the medical profession, so that patients receive the best possible medical, practical and emotional care.”