Telling the stories behind the scars

The Brief

Since 2018 Barley has provided communications support to The Scar Free Foundation, a medical research charity that funds life-changing research into scarring from conflict wounds, burns and cleft.  

After successfully supporting the launch of their new Centre for Conflict Wound Research, we were asked to help highlight the stories of their Ambassadors – supporters with personal experiences of scarring. 

Insights and Approach

Our approach was to bring the Ambassadors’ experiences to life – to tell the stories behind their scars. By putting the Ambassadors front and centre of The Scar Free Foundations communications campaigns, we demonstrated why funding medical research into scarring is so vital in order to engage with new and existing audiences. 

We produced a series of written case studies, Ambassador images and short videos underlining the range of people living with scarring – from children who have survived severe burns and scalds or live with cleft to Armed Forces veterans.  Importantly, we allowed the Ambassadors to tell their own story and share their experiences – whether the numerous operations needed over a lifetime or the physical discomfort in pursuing everyday activities. 

To balance the emotional and serious tone we ended each film with an inspirational question what did they think of The Scar Free Foundation’s ultimate aim: a world without scarring?  To quote lead ambassador Simon Weston CBE, “a world without scars, wouldn’t that be wonderful?” 

Working with the charity’s patron HRH The Countess of Wessex, we advised on the filming of a surprise zoom meeting with the Ambassadors – capturing the screen recording as well as via a third camera in the Countess’ study to capture her comments and responses in closer detail. We put together a script to maximise the best moments of the call and produced a ‘reel’ from all three camera perspectives.  

The Outcome

We launched The Scar Free Foundation’s new burns research programme working with Ambassador Elizabeth – resulting in live interviews with the family on primetime BBC Breakfast, Radio 5 Live and online coverage in The Metro (using the video content) and The Daily Mail.    

The video of the Countess meeting Ambassadors received 21k views on The Scar Free Foundation’s Twitter page, and was later featured in the Daily Mail and Hello! magazine. 

We increased The Scar Free Foundation’s network of followers on social channels and raised awareness of the problems caused by scarring amongst new audiences. Our videos and case studies also provided the charity with engaging content to share directly with donors and stakeholders. 

At every turn, I have been deeply impressed with the way Barley operate. The team worked hard and smart to generate well targeted national media coverage for the opening of The Scar Free Foundation Centre for Conflict Wound Research, resulting in the best UK-wide profile we have ever achieved. The quality of their work and the support we receive is excellent. I have now commissioned Barley to prepare a communications strategy for the Foundation and anticipate they will continue to be a key partner, supporting our work for years to come.

Brendan Eley | CEO, Scar Free Foundation