Age at interview: 20
Brief Outline: Elliott was born with a cleft lip and palate. He works as a retail manager and enjoys going to the gym and socialising in his spare time.
Background: Elliott is a retail manager and is single. Elliott is White British.

More about me...

Elliott was born with a cleft lip and palate and he has an 8 year old brother. He works as a retail manager and enjoys going to the gym and socialising in his spare time. 

Elliott experienced bullying while he was at secondary school, however with the support of family, friends and a ‘peer mentor’ scheme that was in operation at his school he overcame the bullies and gained self-confidence.

Elliott had his cleft lip and palate repaired as an infant but has also had surgery as a teenager including jaw alignment. The jaw alignment surgery serves both a functional and cosmetic purpose, and Elliott was involved in discussions with the health professionals from the cleft service before deciding to have the surgery. 

On leaving school Elliott went to college to study Public Services with the intention of joining the military. However, Elliott was given a managerial position with the frozen yoghurt company he was working for and is now recruiting and managing staff. Elliott enjoys his job and travels in the UK and abroad which has further boosted in his self-confidence.

Elliott had surgery on his jaw when was 18 years of age and he felt comfortable with the making the decision as he been treated by the same team throughout his life.

OK so you said you had a jaw alignment.

Realigned yeah.

Yeah could you tell me a bit more about the experiences leading up to that?

...So before I had that operation I had to have... I had obviously the braces to get my teeth in the right place so they could do it. ...I also had, before that, a few years before I still had a small hole in the roof of my mouth.

So they closed that with some collagen and I had an operation for that. ...And I had my wisdom teeth out ready as well at the same time.

Right so it sounds like it was quite intense?

Yeah well I think that was when I was like 15-16. And then when I was 18 they realigned my jaw, so they... essentially I think broke it and just put it in a new place and... clamped it back together [laughs] I guess.

And what was the outcome of that then, that operation?

It basically meant that my... top jaw was more in line with my bottom jaw, because I think my top row of teeth were slightly further back.


...It also... they also put two little... pad things in my cheeks, which make your cheeks look more normal.

Oh OK.

It just sort of improves your bite, your grip in your teeth and the general appearance.

So it was partly functional and party a cosmetic thing, would you say?

Yes it was sort of half and half I guess then, yeah.

And was that something you were more or less expected to have done or did they ask if you wanted it done? What level of engagement did you have with?

I think it was when I was... 15 or 16 they asked if I wanted it done.


It was something I... sort of thought about for a while and then agreed to have done. It wasn’t something that they said, “This is, you have to have this done.”

OK so a bit of negotiation?

No they sort explained what they could do, what that would improve, what the risks were, sort of the positives and the negatives, and said, “It’s up to you.” And it was something I chose to have done... but... yeah.

How do you find that communication process with the health professionals and team?

I think I’ve seen the same sort of team for as long as I can remember.


I’ve always said... I thought they were very sort of friendly and... open. They don’t really... pressure you into doing this. They explain things quite well. So I’ve always been very happy with it all. Yeah they’re very... I’d say approachable as well.

Hmm OK yeah.

So I don’t feel like, oh I’ve got a question now, I won’t ask, ask the... I’d say you can always ask them questions, which I’ve found is very good, especially if you’ve got to choose some- something like that, if they can do this whole operation, but I think you’d be a bit silly not to ask them questions about it.

Elliott says he has struggled in the past with relationships with girls but is now more confident in himself.

I’d say I’ve always had like... average amount of friends and just always gone out socially. I wouldn’t really say it’s played any impact at all. …Yeah just socially my life’s been fine: sort of always gone out with friends and had a laugh. It hasn’t really played... any impact at all.

I think I became sort of, from when you become a teenager to sort of the age I’ve reached now, you become sort of very self-conscious... and I just feel that maybe other people shouldn’t let that try and... just because you have a cleft lip and palate, you should try not to feel... I don’t know, I definitely felt a bit... self-conscious in those ages because of the way I looked. I think there’s a lot of peer pressure and

Did you feel comfortable with girls, has that been?

See that’s something I struggled with as well, I’d say. It’s like your whole image to like the opposite sex or... whatever and... just your whole, the whole social thing was a bit... I think everyone becomes a bit obsessed with their image and I just, yeah, I’d try not to let that bother you too much, would be some advice I guess. I mean as I got to sort of 17-18, the confidence I sort of grew from college, it didn’t bother me as much at all.

But... there’s something I feel about it can be difficult. I think it’s a difficult age. ...But, yeah, I found, I sort of found it difficult with relationships as well I guess. But... especially now like 19-20 I’ve... become a lot more relaxed with it and feel a lot more... comfortable about myself... and with the way I look and relationships and stuff so... a lot happier now.

So were there issues in the past at all?

...Only really self-confidence issues, I’d say.


I don’t feel there was anything... else wrong at all. I think it was just the way I made myself feel.

So it was more within you than anything.


Since leaving school and going into further education Elliott has gained confidence and is now a retail manager.

I think college definitely helped me a lot.

Would you say it was a bit of a turning point?

Yeah definitely that’s where my life... well I feel I began to feel a lot more positive. ...College, through college as well is where I got sort of introduced to... getting fit and going to the gym, which has also been another sort of constant, positive thing for me.

Would you say that gives you confidence as well?

...Yeah I’d say to. It’s a, it’s a confidence thing. ...I enjoy challenges as well so... I’m always sort of... trying to push myself a bit further and try new things. So college and gym was that sort of start of a new phase in my life almost I’d say.

Yeah, yeah.

...Yeah and met obviously new friends who are sort of... same interests as me, because obviously we were on the same course and... that’s where I met, I’d say, a few of my closest friends now from college.

OK yeah.

So... yeah college was a lot more positive for me than school was.

Yeah that’s good. And then following from college, how have your experiences been of entering the world of work? Can you maybe explain a bit more about that pathway?

I got my first sort of part-time job while I was still at college. So I worked in this sandwich shop for like, I think it was the last six months of college, part-time. And then when I finished college I was... decided I’d work full time a bit more before I went in to join the military so I got a job at [place name] full-time, and sort of told myself I’d work there for maybe a year, and then they sort of [laughs] progressed it a bit. …It’s sort of travelling round the world and it’s kept me interested so... I sort of…

So you’re travelling, yeah?

Yeah so I’ve been to a few countries now... 

Has that been a big life changing thing for you to do the travelling?

Not really a big life changing... thing, because I sort of went on a few holidays with my Nan when I was younger so I’ve been to a few places anyway. But it was good to sort of get to work in other countries. So I went to Mauritius, that was really nice, and been to Italy, which was like a life goal, I always wanted to go to Italy.

Yeah nice, yeah.

So getting to do that through work was quite enjoyable. ...So I’ve enjoyed that as well; it’s been good. It’s kept me interested.

Elliott was bullied when he was younger and regrets that he let it happen to him. His advice is to surround yourself with positive people.

I’d say my main bit of advice, if I was going to give anyone advice, is try not to... let what other people say get to you.

Just... I’d almost say surround yourself with positive people and if anyone sort of is negative or says things or... affects you in any way, just... don’t let them bother you; ignore them.

I think just because you’ve got a cleft lip and palate, it doesn’t make you different or it shouldn’t; you’re the same as everyone else, it shouldn’t matter at all. I think it’s one of the most... regrettable things I did was letting someone make me think that because I looked different I should be treated different and... should allow myself to be bullied. And... now I think about it, I think it’s quite a... silly thing to let myself think.

It’s easy to say that in hindsight, yeah.

Yeah I mean people said it to me at the time but sort of... you don’t know. But... now, now I think about it, it is really true. 
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