SIX in ten people with a disfigurement have experienced hostility from strangers.

New research, by charity Changing Faces, found people with a visible difference such as a scar or mark, are still being excluded from public life, with many facing discrimination, isolation and loneliness.

The report, My Visible Difference, includes a ComRes survey of more than 1000 adults exploring their experiences across areas such as employment, health and wellbeing, family and relationships.

The charity found that around six in ten (58 per cent) experienced hostile behaviour from someone they did not know., while almost a quarter (23 per cent) said they felt self-conscious or embarrassed going out in public as a result of their visible difference.

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More than a third of people surveyed (36 percent) said they had been discriminated against in job applications because of their appearance. Of those in employment, a third (34 per cent) said their employers had not been effective in preventing discrimination against them.

Only a quarter (25%) of people with a visible difference form friendships or relationships through school, education or work.

The report was unveiled today, on Face Equality Day - the UK’s only campaign to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and equally whatever the appearance of their face or body.

The charity’s interim Head of Scotland, Marie McQuade, explains: “People with a visible difference deserve to live the life they want, but are still facing multiple challenges. They are vulnerable to isolation, loneliness, social anxiety and low self-esteem. They face staring, harassment, bullying and hate crime.

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“We need to act now to challenge stigma and prejudice, achieve better representation for people with visible differences across the media and in brand campaigns, and increase awareness and education across schools, workplaces and amongst the general public.”

The research revealed that two-thirds of people (64 percent) do not think visible differences are represented well in adverts and more than 40 percent would be more likely to spend their money on brands that had better representation.

Changing Faces has launched a new campaign calling on brands to feature more people with a visible difference called #PledgeToBeSeen. Avon is the first to sign up and the charity wants many more to follow its lead.

Changing Faces is also calling on all employers to tackle appearance-related discrimination in the workplace and provide training for staff. The charity, which provides counselling and wellbeing support, is launching new self-help materials for anyone with a visible difference.

Marie added: “This year we’re looking to work with more organisations across Scotland to help them better understand what life is like with visible difference. Our Youth Action Group is going to be delivering training sessions with Police Scotland.”

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Lucy Ritchie, from Newton Mearns, was born with Treacher Collins syndrome, a rare congenital condition in which the cheekbones, jaw and eye sockets fail to develop properly. She was fed through a tube for two years, required a ventilator at night for eight years, uses a hearing aid and, so far, has had 20 operations.

The 23-year-old management and marketing graduate has spent the last four years as a media champion for Changing Faces in Scotland, telling her story to raise awareness of what it is like to live with a visible difference. She now works for the charity as a fundraiser, based in the Glasgow office.

“We’d love it if people would get behind us and organise bake sales or fundraising parties, and we are hoping workplaces will make us their charity partner,” adds Lucy, who lives in Newton Mearns with her mum Louise, dad Brian and brother and sister Cameron and Katie.

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The charity is hoping schools and companies will back its Butterfly campaign – contact the office for a donation box – and that cyclists will sign up for its Night Rider event on June 22.

“We’d love it if people would get behind us and organise bake sales or fundraising parties, and we are hoping workplaces will make us their charity partner,” adds Lucy, who lives in Newton Mearns with her mum Louise, dad Brian and brother and sister Cameron and Katie.

“I never felt I needed the support of Changing Faces, growing up. My parents always made sure I knew I was no different to anyone else. I never thought I was different – yes, some people stared, but it was never really an issue. I thought I could help people who weren’t as lucky as me.”


Changing Faces provides advice, support and psychosocial services to children, young people and adults, challenging discrimination and campaigning for Face Equality - a world that truly values and respects people who look different.

The Changing Faces Support Line is 0300 012 0275.

To support the work of Changing Faces text FaceEquality to 70085 to donate £5 plus your standard network rate message.

Alternatively visit

For more information on Changing Faces or to get involved email or call 0141 559 5028