A Warwickshire mum has launched a new website to help people with food allergies, intolerances or coeliac disease find suitable places to eat.
The idea for Allergy Companions was born following an unpleasant experience Liljia Polo-Richards and her husband James had while on holiday earlier this year with their son who was diagnosed with a severe nut allergy when he was just 13 months old.
Mrs Polo-Richards was inspired by the incident to create the new online platform for people to share reviews and help others find venues which she says “truly care about serving people with food allergies”.
It is estimated that up to three million people in the UK suffer from a food allergy, intolerance or coeliac disease.
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She said: “Our son is four and over the last two-and-a-half years we have found eating out challenging.
“When we went to Norfolk, we told the restaurant at the booking point that our son had an allergy, I called them the day before and on the day and I reminded them about it before our food arrived.
“Our dish arrived covered in nuts and when I mentioned it and asked the waiter to take it away, they didn’t deal with it very well.
“When our son went to bed that night, my husband and I decided to do something positive because we felt we couldn’t be the first family this had happened to and there needed to be a better resource available for others who were dealing with food allergies.
“We came up with the idea of having a platform to share information with recommendations so that, no matter where you travelled across the UK, you could hopefully find a place to eat if you suffer with food allergies, intolerances or coeliac disease.
“We’ve been blown away by the response so far as it’s great to read the feedback from people who say they have tried new places based on recommendations from others.”
Before launching the business, Mrs Polo-Richards, who lives in Leamington Spa, worked with the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s Growth Hub which gave her start-up support.
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Laura Delahunty, a business navigator at the hub, said: “Liljia’s wants Allergy Companions to bring the allergy community and businesses together so they can work towards improving the lives of those living with food allergies, intolerances and coeliac disease.
“We have had many discussions about the business and her ideas and I have given her information and advice throughout, acting as a sounding board for support. It is fantastic that her website has been launched and the business is starting to grow. “
The new platform was built by Birmingham-based web design agency Class.
Co-founder Chris Pyatt said: “It was great to help launch a business and website that solves a genuine problem for many people.
“Working with Liljia has opened my eyes to the two million+ UK diners affected by allergies. I wish her the best of luck with the venture as I know it means so much to her, her family and everyone affected by food allergies.”