Our history

We’ve been battling to improve the quality of life and clinical care for people with Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis for more than 35 years. 

Here’s a brief history of Crohn’s and Colitis UK, from our early days as a grassroots support network through our growth into a respected UK-wide charity that provides support, education, research funding and a powerful voice for everyone whose life is affected by Inflammatory Bowel disease.

Crohn's and Colitis UK is a wonderful organisation which is available to anyone. It has an amazing network of up-to-date research, treatment and support.

Anastacia, pop star and Crohn’s and Colitis UK ambassador
Diagnosed with Crohn's Disease, aged 14


Though we are now  popularly known as Crohn’s and Colitis UK, the charity was founded as the National Association for Colitis and Crohn’s Disease in 1979 by Robert and Patricia Annetts, after their daughter was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease.

From the outset, we’ve been dedicated to giving a voice to everyone affected by the conditions – and we’ve aimed to be an equal partnership of patients, families and health professionals.

1980s – Getting started

Our first priority was to establish a support network for people, like Robert and Patricia, who were affected by Crohn’s and Colitis.

We began with a membership scheme and local meeting groups. Our first membership newsletter was produced in 1980 and the first local group formed in Liverpool in 1982.

That year also saw the establishment of a national Medical Advisers Committee to help us prepare early booklets on Crohn’s and Colitis. This was the first step forward in providing accurate lay information for those affected by these diseases.

We also realised the need for more research into the conditions. Thanks to the efforts of all the pioneer groups, by 1983 some £35K had been accumulated in a separate research fund to ensure that every £1 raised for research was spent on research.

The burgeoning Association grew steadily but surely. By the autumn of 1984 we had 3,000 members. In 1987, emboldened by our strengthening collective voice, we launched the ‘Can’t Wait Card’  and continued to develop our support services.

1990s – A decade of growth

Over the next decade the Association continued to grow at a steady rate. By 1999, an impressive 29,000 people had become members. Our network of local groups had grown by more than 50 per cent, from 46 in 1990 to almost 70.

Thanks, in the main, to the efforts of the membership, groups and their supporters raising substantial funds through subscriptions, voluntary donations and fundraising, grants from the research fund reached £1 million in 1992. By the end of the decade, that figure had doubled to £2 million.

2000s – Expanding services

As we celebrated our 30th anniversary in 2009,  membership and group numbers had remained fairly constant. Membership was around 30,000 and there were still approximately 70 local groups.

By contrast, the number of volunteers and the range of support services made generally available to the public had increased considerably.

We were now providing an Information Service  [4], Crohn’s and Colitis Support and the number of booklets, information sheets and publications [6] developed. Similarly, the level of research grants awarded for medical research, along with research into the social and psychological impact of living with IBD, had increased to £4.8 million.

Crohn’s and Colitis UK today

Today, the Charity’s core values, principles and vision largely remain unchanged, and continue to underpin our services, our activities, who we are, the people we partner with and the people we serve.

The breadth of activity has been extended to include public affairs and campaigning to raise the profile of the charity, influencing decision makers at local and national levels, to improve the availability and the quality of IBD healthcare services.

We continue to grow and prosper, employing around 45 people at our office in St Albans, supported by a range of volunteers, external specialist resources and health professionals. In monetary terms, at the end of the financial year for 2014, total incoming resources had increased to just short of £4 million.

Our mission remains the same as it always has: We want to see a world in which nobody’s life is limited by Crohn’s and Colitis.

We continue believe that, with your help, we can achieve that.

Support our work and add to the growing history of Crohn’s and Colitis UK.

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