For me, the highlight of 2017-18 was when I found myself on a podium giving the closing speech at Beat’s conference for carers and frontline health professionals. I was trying to pay tribute to the huge energy and enthusiasm that had been evident over the previous two days. And I was completely failing – partly because I couldn’t find the words to express my admiration both for the conference participants and for Beat’s staff, but mostly because the emotion got too much.
You – Beat’s supporters and beneficiaries – are truly amazing. You have to cope with so much as eating disorders pull your lives apart, yet you still have the energy to drive Beat forward and help shape our work to bring closer an end to the pain and suffering of these terrible illnesses.
On the back of that conference, we started a new phase in Beat’s strategy. The jargon calls it co-production – it means that we are in this together. Nobody knows better than the people directly affected by eating disorders what Beat should be doing, so we started a new conversation with you. Over 550 people have taken part so far, and you can see their views starting to shape Beat’s future as you read this report.
We’ve also worked together on Beat’s new logo and the new look to our publications, while groups of Beat supporters are shaping our campaigns, developing new services and promoting local action. You’ll also read in this report about the shocking results of our investigation into the delays experienced before people start treatment, which made us ever more determined to bring about the political and social changes needed so that nobody has to wait years before they start getting better.
While we’re pleased that our Helpline helped two times more people this year than last, we know that it’s not enough. So we’re aiming to help an additional 20,000 people in the year ahead. And while you like the leaflet we’ve created to make sure people get a referral when they go to their GP, you’ve also told us that too many bad decisions are being taken about you and your loved ones, denying you the treatment or involvement that you have every right to expect. So Beat will soon launch a service that helps people challenge and change bad decisions.
So I’m pleased with the impact that Beat has had over the past year, and I hope you’ll value reading about it in this report. And, like you, I know that so much more is needed – more change, more funding, more research, better support. The good news is that, together, we are on our way.