EATING disorder charity Beat has received £254,600 in funding to deliver a London-wide campaign raising awareness of the condition amongst young people.
The scheme, funded by City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charitable funder, will help youngsters find specialist treatment in the shortest possible timeframe after diagnosis.
The campaign will highlight the early stages of eating disorders, the importance of prompt treatment, and show people where to get help. It will also fund training and telephone support to 540 professionals across London’s 498 secondary schools, helping people to spots the signs early on.
As part of the project, Beat will contact all 1,900 London GPs so they can expect more patients to present with eating disorders, know how to support them in line with the best practice guidance, and have posters and leaflets on display for young patients and their families.
Alison Gowman, Chairman of the City Bridge Trust Committee, commented:
“Beat is a renowned leader, nationally and internationally, in the field of eating disorders and together we are determined to make a real impact.
“This campaign will raise awareness of a really important and growing issue affecting so many Londoners today. We want to help educate and ensure those that need support are getting the right help at the right time.
“City Bridge Trust is committed to making London a fairer place to work and live.”
Andrew Radford, CEO of Beat, said:
“Eating disorders cause immense distress for the 1.25 million sufferers in the UK and their families.
“We know that the sooner someone gets help for an eating disorder, the better their chances of recovery. Through training schools to spot the signs, helping doctors to take the right action and raising awareness through our network of Ambassadors, we aim to reduce the nearly three and a half years it takes, on average, for someone to receive treatment for an eating disorder.
“Thanks to this grant from City Bridge Trust, we can ensure more people get the help they need, at a time when it will be most effective.”
Laura Phelan, an ambassador for Beat who has had an eating disorder in the past, said:
“Through Beat, I have been lucky enough to have invaluable experiences in mentoring, writing, campaigning in Parliament and public speaking, whether that be through the media or in schools and workplaces.
“Beat enabled me to use my voice in a way that not only healed me in the latest stages of my recovery but also to act as a beacon of hope for anyone struggling. They continue to grow from strength to strength as a charity and I feel extremely grateful to be a part of this.”
Beat is the UK’s leading charity supporting people affected by eating disorders and campaigning on their behalf. In recent years, it has tripled the number of people it helps and set an ambitious target to support 100,000 people a year by 2021.
Beat provides information and support through Helplines which are open 365 days a year via phone, email, anonymous one-to-one web chat and social media. The charity also trains and supports schools and health professionals to spot the signs of eating disorders and has a national network of Ambassadors who help raise awareness.
“I developed anorexia at the age of 13, so I have been in recovery for over 12 years now. Prior to this I was quite shy, didn’t have a lot of self-confidence and when embarking on what I thought was a “healthy eating regime”, I didn’t realise the drastic consequence it would have on my mental health.
“I soon became obsessed by calorie counting, over exercising and controlling what I ate. It felt safe, like a coping mechanism I didn’t know I needed as a teenage girl trying to understand her place in society, and something I think of as my ‘worst best friend’.
“Anorexia is quite literally like being possessed by something greater than you, instilling fear and a sense of co-dependency on certain behaviours. It strips you of your happiness, health and many relationships.
“My turning point was hitting rock bottom on my 14th birthday. My BMI had become critical, but more importantly, my mental health was completely shot, and I was being threatened to be hospitalised and sectioned if I did not adhere to the help I was being given by therapists and dietitians.
“Luckily, with time, patience and an everyday fight, I decided I wanted to at least try, the realisation that it might kill me and that dying wasn’t as scary as trying to eat more, was enough to make me realise something really was wrong. So, through years of therapy support, family support and a conscious daily battle to fight the thoughts and behaviours that had gotten me so ill, I started to get through. I still longed to be smaller, I still longed to control my food and had severe body image and self-confidence issues for years after, but I knew I had to keep going.
“I look back today and realise, life experiences, my greatest challenges including the hard ones, but also the good ones like travelling and setting up a business to help others suffering, are the things which enabled me to heal wholly.
“I am always grateful for where I am today and try my utmost to live life to the full, enjoy food and every day without worrying about what I am eating or what I look like. A life after recovery is a life of freedom and opportunity and these days, I look to show up in life in a much bigger way.”
City Bridge Trust is the funding arm of the City of London Corporation’s charity, Bridge House Estates. It is London’s biggest independent grant giver, making grants of £20 million a year to tackle disadvantage across the capital.
The Trust has awarded around 7,900 grants totalling over £395 million since it first began in 1995. It helps achieve the City Corporation’s aim of changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners.