ERIC is the only charity dedicated to the bowel and bladder health of all children and teenagers in the UK.

Our work

We offer the following services:

  • helpline service for families to talk to an expertly trained childhood continence advisor
  • A website with information on childhood bowel and bladder problems and downloadable resources
  • An online shop supplying a comprehensive range of life-transforming continence products
  • Paediatric continence training courses for health professionals across the UK to raise standards of continence care
  • Campaigns to raise awareness of the causes and treatment of children's bowel and bladder problems, to improve national paediatric continence services and the support available to children in education settings and the NHS.

Our mission

We provide expert support, information and understanding to children and teenagers and enable parents, carers and professionals to help them establish good bowel and bladder health.

We continue to develop our expertise to ensure we can help even more families live better, fuller lives.

Our vision

Every child and teenager with a bowel or bladder condition can access support and live free from embarrassment, shame, isolation and fear.

The scale and impact of childhood continence problems

In the UK an estimated 900,000, or 1 in 12, 5-19 year olds suffer from bowel and bladder conditions such as bedwetting, daytime wetting, constipation and soiling*.

Bowel and bladder problems have perhaps more impact than almost any other medical condition on children’s self esteem, education and social relationships, and effective treatment can change children’s lives. (Dr Eve Fleming, retired GP and ERIC Trustee)

1 in 12 children and teenagers in the UK suffer from a bowel or bladder problem

The impact of continence conditions can be profound on a child or teenager’s life and can continue to affect them as adults. Research has shown that those affected:

The stress that comes with dealing with a child's wetting or soiling problem can be considerable for families too, with disrupted sleep, constant washing of clothing or bedding and reluctance to leave the house placing a heavy burden on family life. We hear everyday from parents struggling to cope with the day-to-day consequences of their child’s condition. In extreme cases, children are abused as a result.

Most bowel and bladder problems are avoidable and treatable, yet it’s estimated that only 11% of those affected ask for help. In England alone, there are 15,000 hospital admissions for paediatric cases of chronic constipation and urinary tract infections (UTIs) each year, 80% of which could be avoided if the problems were spotted early and dealt with properly, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

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

ERIC's creation

ERIC founder Dr Penny Dobson MBEERIC was set up in 1988 by Dr Penny Dobson MBE (pictured, left, at the ERIC Paediatric Continence Care Conference 2016). A trained nurse and social worker, Penny formed the charity to fill the gap in the support available to children suffering from bedwetting, otherwise known as nocturnal enuresis. The Enuresis Resource and Information Centre, or 'ERIC' for short, was formed.

In time, ERIC's remit extended to support children and teenagers with toilet and potty training, daytime wetting, constipation and soiling problems as well. Even though we’re now formally known as The Children’s Bowel & Bladder Charity, the original acronym ERIC remains.

Initially supported by the Children’s Society, Penny was given just three years to make the charity financially independent - a challenge for any charity, but particularly so for one dealing with such an unappealing cause!

Based in a tiny office at the University of Bristol, and supported by the late Professor of Child Health David Baum, Penny inspired and engaged people across the country to develop and grow the charity, which she led until her retirement in 2008.

Growth and expansion

ERIC set up the first national helpline for childhood continence, published a range of information resources, and developed training courses for health and education professionals, as well as an international conference.

We also set up a shop selling a wide range of continence products. Today we sell around 200 different items through our online shop, from bedwetting alarms and vibrating watches to bedding protection, books and clothing. All profits from these sales go back into funding our work.

Research has always been at the heart of what we do. In 1991 ERIC worked with the University of Bristol to include questions on bladder and bowel control in its major national longitudinal study of health and development of children (the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children). This valuable source of data has resulted in research publications of international importance.

ERIC has also ran a number of successful national campaigns over the years to improve the lives of children and teenagers with bowel and bladder conditions.

ERIC today

With just 11 part-time members of staff, ERIC remains a small but influential charity. We have won several prestigious awards, including a Nursing Times Award in October 2016 for our early intervention work.

We continue to liaise with our founder, Dr Penny Dobson MBE, through her role as Chair of the Paediatric Continence Forum (PCF), which she set up in 2003. The PCF represents the interests and concerns of children and teens affected by wee and poo problems and lobbies Government to ensure that paediatric continence is included in national health policies.

ERIC’s Chief Executive Juliette Randall joined the team in 2015.

We received royal recognition for our work when Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal visited our office in Kingswood, Bristol, in March 2016. 

Looking ahead

We have set ambitious priority goals for 2017-2020, which will help us achieve our key overall aim - to reduce the impact of bowel and bladder issues on children’s and teenagers lives in the UK. These are to:

1. Provide information and support which is accessible and available to communities across the UK
2. Develop tools to support the continence journey
3. Promote early intervention
4. Building a strong and resilient organisation.

You can download ERIC’s Strategic Plan 2017-2020 here.

I’m hopeful that every day we’re a step closer to seeing our vision become reality, and every child and teenager with a bowel or bladder condition can access support and live free from embarrassment, shame, isolation and fear. – Juliette Randall, Chief Executive of ERIC