A local woman is encouraging Te Awamutu businesses to take part in Crohn's and Colitis New Zealand's (CCNZ) I Can't Wait campaign to help diminish the fear held by those who have the chronic autoimmune diseases.
But to her surprise, Karen Nicholson is having difficulty getting businesses on board.
"There's only a couple of businesses on board in Te Awamutu, it would be great to see more taking part," says Karen.
So far the Te Awamutu Medical Centre and Snap Fitness have come on to support the campaign.
"We're happy to help, so let's do it," says Snap Fitness club manager David Lisignoli.
Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), attack the digestive system and can cause debilitating pain and severe diarrhoea.
More than 20,000 New Zealanders have the diseases and there is no cure.
Patients are often afraid to leave their home, fearful of having an accident while out in public.
This is where the I Can't Wait programme helps.
CCNZ has a card that patients can present at toilets to jump the queue or help them gain access to a workplace or business toilet when there are no public toilets nearby.
The card reads "I can't wait. The bearer of this card has a medical condition that requires him/her to use the bathroom facilities urgently."
Retailers, business owners and vendors can show their support by displaying a window sticker acknowledging the "I Can't Wait" card's function in their premises.
"A lot of people don't go out because they are worried that they won't be able to find a toilet," says Karen.
CCNZ says patients and cardholders would be more encouraged to shop at participating businesses as they will feel confident in knowing they have access to toilets if required.
Their advice around being approached by a cardholder is to understand that the person has a serious medical condition and to remember that some disabilities are not visible. If they have made an approach it means they have no other option.
Businesses can get involved or find out more directly from Crohn's and Colitis New Zealand or by getting in contact with Karen on 021 250 3358.