Jackie Fuidge Jackie Fuidge, learning and development manager, ERIC, The Children’s Bowel & Bladder Charity
It is estimated that one in 12 children and young people in the UK suffer with a wetting or soiling problem, which can have a devastating impact on their family life, social life and self-esteem (NHS Modernisation Agency, 2003). Afraid of wetting themselves in class or on a school trip; too many children and teenagers are missing out on sleepovers and camping trips, being bullied and constantly trying to hide the signs of their ‘secret’. Families often suffer in silence, blaming themselves and hoping their child will grow out of it. Left untreated, bladder and bowel problems can cause serious health complications, but with the right treatment and support most children can overcome their problem or learn to manage it.


ERIC, The Children’s Bowel & Bladder Charity, has been dedicated for over 30 years to improving the lives of all children and teenagers in the UK facing continence challenges. ERIC provides expert support, information and understanding to children and young people and those who care for them so that they can establish good bowel and bladder health for life.
Our core services include:
  • A free helpline service for families and professionals to talk to an expertly trained childhood continence advisor — www.eric.org.uk/helpline
  • A website full of information and downloadable resources, including many useful documents linked to our Children’s Continence Pathway — www.eric.org.uk
  • An online shop supplying a comprehensive range of continence products
  • Paediatric continence training courses for healthcare professionals across the UK to raise standards of continence care
  • Training courses for early years and education professionals to support children’s toilet training
  • Parent and carer workshops.
ERIC is highly regarded as a patient representative group and is a member of the NHS-led National Bladder & Bowel Project, the Bladder and Bowel Confidence Health Integration Team, Excellence in Continence Care Management Board, the Health Conditions in Schools Alliance, and the National Council for Child Health and Wellbeing. ERIC’s CEO is co-chair of the Paediatric Continence Forum, a group of patient representatives, healthcare professionals and company members who campaign to improve services for children and teenagers with bowel and bladder problems.


It is an exciting time here at ERIC! We are just embarking on a new three-year strategy, and we have secured funding for some great new projects.

Peer-to-peer support group

Thanks to a grant from the National Lottery Community Fund, we are delighted to be offering a drop-in support group for parents and carers in the Bristol area. ‘Engaged’ is for anyone caring for a child or young person under the age of 19 with a bladder or bowel problem. We are currently reviewing how we can move this online in a meaningful way for parents and carers.

Helpline expansion

Over the last year calls to our helpline have significantly increased. Feedback from the families we support reveals that many want to access our information and support outside helpline opening hours, and on digital platforms using their smartphones. In response, we secured funding from Garfield Weston Charitable Trust and the Brook Trust to enable us to deliver, in consultation with our community, a modern, interactive service. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the need to move quickly with this project and we are fast streaming the developments with the help of three interns from the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England.

Let’s Go Potty

In recent times, we have been developing our early intervention work with families, nurseries, and early years practitioners to help children achieve independence in using the toilet and maintain good bowel and bladder health for life. Ofsted’s annual report in December 2018 referenced ERIC’s joint research with the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (August 2016), which highlighted that more children than ever are starting school in nappies. They noted that the number of children starting school unable to use the toilet properly as a big concern and recommended: ‘Nurseries and childminders should identify children who cannot use the toilet at the earliest possible opportunity and work with parents to help their children learn’. At the beginning of 2019, ERIC and the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) conducted a survey of early years staff across the UK.
The results revealed the following:
  • 68% said they felt that over the last five years children were being potty trained at a later age
  • 70% of early years practitioners have received no training in how to potty train
  • 50% of nurseries had a potty-training policy in place.
Within that:
  • Only 16% include how to identify and manage constipation
  • Only 17% include how much children should drink during the day.
In response, ERIC developed a potty training policy and training for nursery staff. For more information see: www.eric.org.uk/Listing/Category/early-years-professionals   
To highlight the resources we have developed for both nurseries and parents we will be launching a new campaign ‘Let’s Go Potty’. This will be driven by social media and supported by a website packed with useful information and resources. We aim to reach more parents and early years practitioners looking for support with potty training.

Working with schools

 ERIC has also teamed up with Bladder and Bowel UK to produce new guidance for school leaders, proprietors, governors, staff and practitioners across the UK regarding all aspects of bladder and bowel issues and toileting in schools. ‘Managing Bladder and Bowel Issues in Nurseries, Schools and Colleges’ is available as a free downloadable resource from the ERIC website, see: www.eric.org.uk/help-at-school .
Also, on our website is a short film that ERIC produced in partnership with the University of Bristol, which raises awareness among early years practitioners and education professionals of the importance of supporting young people with bladder and bowel conditions. For example, having unrestricted access to the toilet and being able to drink throughout the school day. Our further project work with schools has been delayed due to the Covid-19 restrictions, however, we have a new campaign waiting in the wings which includes life-sized wee and poo mascots to help us engage with children and the wider public — so, watch this space...

For more information...

ERIC is dedicated to helping all children and teenagers manage and overcome distressing continence conditions. Whether it is a toilet-training issue, bedwetting, constipation or soiling problem, ERIC provides expert support, information and understanding to children and young people and enables parents, carers and professionals to help them establish good bowel and bladder health. ERIC’s family support includes a free helpline, parent and family workshops, online resources and information. Support for professionals includes training targeted at the needs of the health, education, early years and social care sectors working with children and families. Professionals can also access ERIC’s free helpline, online tools, resources, and information.

Address: 36 Old School House, Britannia Road, Kingswood, Bristol BS15 8DB
Helpline: 0808 169 9949
Website: www.eric.org.uk
This piece was first published in the Journal of Community Nursing. To cite this article use: Fuidge J (2020) Improving the lives of children/teenagers with continence challenges. J Community Nurs 34(4): 20-21


NHS Modernisation Agency (2003) Good practice in paediatric continence services - benchmarking in action. Department of Health, London