Coming to terms with an accident that has left a person with an facial injury or illness that affects their appearance can be traumatic time.

And it leaves some people unsure of where to turn for help.

Siobhan Ryan speaks to an organisation that provides the support needed.

After hours of surgery, doctors have managed to rebuild a car accident victim's face so she is finally able to start getting on with her life again.

But no matter how hard or carefully they work there are still physical, permanent scars, that are clearly visible. The victim now has to work on the mental scars as she learns to live with what has happened.

It is at this stage the Sussex-based Friendly Faces support group comes in. The group is made up of a group of nurses who work to provide help, support and advice to people who have suffered facial changes.

Apart from accident victims, this can include people with severe burns, cancer, skin conditions or congenital conditions, for example birth marks.

The organisation is affiliated with the international support network Let's Face It and after more than a year in operation is already proving to be popular.

The aim of the group is to offer support, guidance and friendship for those affected and their partners, relatives and friends.

It meets twice a month to chat and guest speakers are invited to discuss a range of issues such as how to cope psychologically and talk through the latest treatments.

The group says its main aim is to remind people that having a problem does not need to affect the way they live their lives and there are many others who are facing the same difficulties and who are managing to cope.

It also keeps an eye on patients and will refer them to specialists for further help if needed so that nobody starts to slip into a spiral of depression or feels they are on their own.

The group was set up by sisters on the Crusade Ward in Worthing Hospital, which looks after people with facial problems. Maggy Morley and Mary-Anne Ley both realised the demand for help was there and they could try and do something about it.

Kim Cheetham, a fellow nurse, said: Some patients were often coming back to the ward and it was clear they were looking for advice and information and sometimes just for people to talk to.

"We are nurses, not skilled counsellors, so we can't offer a full service like that, but we are there to help and point people in the right direction.

"Things are still at a very early stage and we are adapting the group as we go along and more people join us.

"We are open and amenable to change but we are still on a learning curve.

"Although we are based at Worthing we are actually open to anyone who feels in need of support, whether they go to this hospital or not.

"We want to broaden the group's horizons and try to get out to as many people as possible."

Information given at group sessions include advice from dieticians, hairdressers, make-up experts and details of the latest developments in prosthetics.

An information leaflet is also printed and sent out to group members providing all the latest advice and information. For further information on the range of help on offer, contact Crusade Ward on 01903 205111 ext 5412.