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More people to be trained to spot eating disorders

More young sufferers and their families will benefit from Beat’s vital support as the UK’s eating disorder charity has been awarded more than £1 million in National Lottery funding.

Beat will use the grant to increase community knowledge, train school-based professionals and carers on how to spot the early signs of an eating disorder and support young sufferers to seek early treatment. 

The new funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, which distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes and is the largest funder of community activity in the UK, will see Beat delivering its one-day training programme to 800 professionals in secondary schools in the North West of England and in Scotland, aiming to reach every school. It will also enable Beat to start delivering its Echo peer support service for carers in the North West, matching the service which has started in Scotland.

There are an estimated 1.25 million people with an eating disorder in the UK, with around 130,000 falling ill each year. Last year Beat’s Helpline and support services helped over 28,000 people. It also trained 24 “Echo” coaches – carers who have guided a loved one into recovery - to give peer-to-peer support to other families currently dealing with the illness in a loved one. 

Beat, working alongside the Scottish Eating Disorder Interest Group, NHS Lothian and North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, will also support over 450 parents and carers through skills and situation management training on how to help a loved one suffering from an eating disorder.

The three-year National Lottery funding will also allow Beat to ensure over 2,000 GP surgeries have up-to-date information on eating disorders and know how to refer sufferers for specialist assessment and treatment.

At the same time, Beat will be able to support 50 Ambassadors - people who have recovered from an eating disorder, or who have a loved one who has suffered – to help spread Beat’s messages of hope and recovery to people currently suffering from an eating disorder.

Joe Ferns, UK Funding Director at The National Lottery Community Fund, says: “We’re proud that National Lottery funding will enable Beat to empower even more carers and school-based professionals to spot the early signs of an eating disorder in young people in the UK.”

Andrew Radford, Beat’s Chief Executive, says: “We’re delighted that The National Lottery Community Fund has supported our work in this way. Now, thanks to National Lottery players, we can make sure even more people are aware of the importance of spotting the signs of an eating disorders as soon as possible.  

“This project will make a real difference to people living in the North West of England and in Scotland. We want teachers, school professionals and anybody who looks after a young person to have the confidence and knowledge to spot the early signs of an eating disorder and to know how to access treatment quickly. 

“The evidence could not be clearer: seeking help at the early stage of these mental illnesses is crucial to a rapid, sustained and full recovery. Early intervention is central to our vision of a society where fewer people suffer eating disorders and where they can quickly access treatment that supports recovery. 

“By focusing on early intervention, we can ensure that more people than ever recover from eating disorders and that we can make the biggest difference to sufferers of this terrible illness right across the UK.”

Professor Sandeep Ranote, Medical Director at North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, says: “Eating disorders can be devastating illnesses for sufferers and their families and we know that early intervention is crucial to ensuring the best chance of recovery.

“The work of our voluntary sector partner, Beat, is vital to the success in delivering whole packages of care for the person and their network of care around them.”

Fiona Duffy, Eating Disorder Development Team Leader at NHS Lothian, says: “We recognise the importance of early identification of eating disorder symptoms in children and young people to support fast access to evidence-based treatment.  

“Therefore, we welcome this national project and look forward to seeing increased awareness of eating disorders in Scottish schools supporting faster identification and recovery.” 

Karen McMahon, Chair of the Scottish Eating Disorders Interest Group, says: “The provision of education to professionals based in schools and primary care has the potential to reduce stigma, improve identification and promote early intervention for young people with eating disorders.  

“Delivering training to carers is essential in reducing loneliness, increasing understanding and providing effective strategies for coping. Harnessing voices of experience to raise awareness of eating disorders is crucially important to influencing hearts and minds.

  “These three strands of the project combine to represent a powerful weapon that can make a significant contribution to changing the world of eating disorder recognition, support and treatment.”