Meet our ambassador, Ant!
Tell us about yourself
So my name’s Ant or Anthony, or as most people know @ibdlife. I’m thirty-two (I can’t believe I’m thirty-two, it’s gone far too quickly!). I’m from Reigate or Red Hill, which is near Gatwick and I have an ileostomy. I’ve had it for just over two years and I had it due to Ulcerative Colitis for around eleven years. I went through lots of drug trials and things didn’t really work, so they said “Right, let’s try and cut it out and give you a better quality of life.” Now I’m part of the bag life crew, so couldn’t be happier.
What do you think makes a great service?
For me personally, it is about having a human conversation with the kind of people that understand you. The Respond customer service crew give me a call and say “Hi, Anthony, how are you? You were saying about work last week – how’s everything?”
For me, great service has that human element and someone on the end of the phone who’s always there to help you out and answer any questions you have. And also just check up on you when needed.
How long have you been using the Respond service?
About three or four months now. Prior to that, I was with another company that I was directed to from the hospital, and I had lots of issues and problems such as orders going wrong, not receiving the correct products and products going missing. Fortunately, I was having a chat with a few friends and they said “Have you heard about Respond?” I said that I hadn’t, so I gave them a call. The rest is history!
What is it about the Respond service you like?
What I really enjoy is I always get a call from a couple of people every month (like Julie, a lovely woman, and a few others) and they always say “Hi Ant, how are you? I’m just calling to check up and see if everything’s all right. What do you need this month, is it the same as last month?” I never experienced this with other services.
I know it sounds a bit odd, but I look forward to those conversations. I think, being in this sort of space, you can feel quite isolated if you aren’t necessarily on social media. I think some people may find a lot of comfort in having those conversations every few weeks, and you can always call them and say “I’m having problems, do you recommend any products?” It’s perfect. It literally does everything I want it to do.
What does it mean to you to be a part of the Respond ambassador programme and family?
It still hasn’t sunk in. I was having a chat with a few people last night and explained “Two years ago I had surgery. I started creating campaigns and posting Instagram photos and videos. And now it’s come so far that I’m now part of this incredible family.” It’s amazing to be a part of the ambassador programme, especially this whole experience that I’ve been a part of in the last couple of days. It’s also been great meeting so many people I’ve connected with on Instagram but not met in real life.
It’s quite humbling as well. Whilst I don’t think it per se (I just feel like I’m creating little videos and things like that), I’m reminded by people that I’m actually making a difference. I absolutely love it. So, thanks very much, honestly. I’ll keep saying thank you.
What would you say to someone who was looking to change their service?
I could wax lyrical for so long about how good the whole Respond service is. The experiences I had with previous services were very frustrating – really complicated processes and having to make complaints along the way. If I’d known Respond was available straight from the hospital I would have said “Well, can I just go straight into this?”
Everything’s taken care of. You don’t have to worry about contacting your GP or updating your prescription as Respond do all of it. They’ll regularly catch up with you to make sure you’ve got what you need and say things like “If you don’t, no worries, we’ll get a rush on that for you. You should expect to in a couple of days, if not, give us a call.” There’s constant feedback and it’s very, very reassuring.
Tell us three things we don’t know about you?
Firstly, I used to be a police officer for a little while and I now work in learning and development which is enjoyable. Secondly, I’m a massive foodie, and I really enjoy cooking. The third thing is I’m a keen drummer. I miss it as I haven’t drummed for ages but used to do it frequently as a child. My brother keeps asking if I’d join his band but it’s not looking likely as I don’t have the kit!