The beginning of lockdown back in March 2020 meant we experienced a drastic drop in income from our shop and training programme. Most of the ERIC team were furloughed. But, with the help of generous donations from our service users, supporters and emergency funding from the Charities Aid Fund, we managed to keep our helpline open so that families could continue to access one-to-one support.  

With NHS services reduced as resources were reallocated to deal with the pandemic, our helpline was a lifeline for parents.  
During lockdown when all our support networks were taken away, you were the only ones that treated us like a normal family and were able to offer support. To be honest, it saved us.  
Faith, ERIC helpline user  

An emergency appeal during this difficult period was hugely successful and exceeded the £7,500 target. We are so grateful for the incredible outpouring of support and generosity we received, allowing us not just to continue, but also develop our service.  


While nobody could have been prepared for events over the last 18 months, our team had fortunately already been preparing for a digital world — becoming more flexible and adaptable. This undoubtedly made it easier to operate remotely as more staff returned to work. 

As lockdown restrictions eased, our services were able to hit the ground running, with our online shop providing products to help families cope and generating income to fund vital services (www.eric.org.uk/shop). An expanded range of products includes a variety of reminder watches, which are a great way to prompt children to take medication, drink and use the toilet.  

We are also delighted to have cuddly toy versions of our popular wee and poo characters for sale. Designed exclusively for ERIC, these adorable toys are perfect for cuddles when potty training and helping to raise awareness of bladder or bowel conditions within the home, nursery, school, clinic or workplace. The profits from each set purchased supports our charitable services.  


There have also been some exciting developments for our family services offering with a podcast series launched in 2020 (www.eric.org.uk/podcast). Each episode covers a topic or question that is commonly raised by callers to our helpline, such as toilet training children with a disability and following National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines on treating childhood constipation with a disimpaction regime. If there is a topic you’d like us to cover in future episodes, or maybe you’d like to take part in a podcast as the expert, please send an email to: alina@eric.org.uk  

We’ve also started broadcasting live on Facebook and Instagram answering questions about bedwetting and potty training (www.eric.org.uk/potty-training). All the recordings of these Q&As and a Potty Training webinar series are available to watch again via our YouTube channel. Click the YouTube icon on ERIC’s homepage to watch this and other videos.  

The bowel area of our website has been updated with a new ‘Advice sheet for children with constipation’ (www.eric.org.uk/advice-for-children-with-constipation), which can be translated into other languages using Google translate. Keep an eye on our website for lots more resources like this coming soon.  


Back in November 2020, we were thrilled to win a Nursing Times Award for our best practice guidance document ‘Managing Continence Issues at Nursery, School and College’. The award recognised a partnership approach with co-authors Bladder and Bowel UK (BBUK) to providing guidance and practical support for children at school in the category ‘Continence Promotion and Care’. 


Another outcome of the pandemic has meant that our training programme for health and education professionals transferred online. This proved to be hugely successful reaching many more people than we previously have via face-to-face training — over 900 professionals since January 2021! Attendees have joined from across the globe, including from as far afield as Iceland, Australia, Brazil and New Zealand!  


Juliette Rayner, ERIC’s CEO, explains what this exciting new project involves and how you can be a part of it: 

The Paediatric and Transition Workstream of the NHS England-led National Bladder and Bowel Health Project is now well underway.  

We are very excited to be working in collaboration with the NHS Children & Young People Transformation Board for the South West and the NHS LeDeR Morbidity Review Team. 

Who do we need to join this project?  

We are now recruiting to the sub-groups and are particularly keen to hear from community midwives, nursery nurses, health visitors and school nurses. Or, indeed, anyone with an interest and knowledge of providing services, support and education. Our vision is for:  
  • Healthcare professionals to have a better understanding of constipation in children and young people and know how to manage it better  
  • Parents and carers to have a better understanding of constipation in their children  
  • Adolescents to have a way of discussing their bowel issues in a safe, confidential and sensitive environment.  
Together, we can make a real difference to the lives of children and young people with constipation, including those with learning disabilities and autism.  

The paediatric and transition workstream has set up three task/ finish sub-groups, each with a specific remit to work towards and agree a consistent approach to developing a pathway for constipation from pre-birth to adult services:  
  1. Birth to four years  
  2. GP engagement  
  3. Unplanned hospital admissions.  
If you’d like to be involved and get more information, please contact: juliette@eric.org.uk 


We continue to develop our virtual information and learning offering for parents, carers, healthcare, school and early years sectors. We are working on several exciting new projects focused on raising awareness of healthy toilet habits in primary schools, potty training, and working directly with teenagers to create new, age-relevant resources. 

About ERIC  

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, and working with children and families. Professionals can also access ERIC’s free helpline, online tools, resources and information.  

Helpline: 0808 169 9949  
Email: web@eric.org.uk  
Website: www.eric.org.uk 


Keeping in touch 

Get all ERIC’s latest news, up-to-date resources and training dates at: www.eric.org.uk  

Follow us on:  
Facebook: ERIC.UK1/  
Twitter: ERIC_UK  
Instagram: eric_charity and lets.go.potty 
This piece was first published in the Journal of Community Nursing. To cite this article use: Lynden A (2021) Pandemic prompts ERIC to diversify services and go digital. J Community Nurs 35(5): 30-31