The NEEDS(Scotland) Annual General Meeting was held on Monday 9th May 2016 in the Macrobin Centre. Here is the annual Chairperson’s report from April 2015 to April 2016.
Welcome to the Annual General Meeting of NEEDS(Scotland), including for the first time, our satellite group NEEDS2 Bridging the Gap which is doing just that in Dundee and Tayside since it’s launch in October 2015. We are indeed reaching out as we have always hoped to do. Many thanks go to the group members who decided to form this group, and to the Dundee group volunteers who give their time to help those in need in the city and the surrounding area.
Many thanks also to our volunteers in Aberdeen, who give up their free time, whilst juggling work, studies and family commitments to support group members, also to our administrator, Irene Kerr and our IT specialist George Baird for their assistance in keeping the wheels of the group moving. I would specifically mention, Mel Stevenson, one of our volunteers who does a wonderful job as Correspondence Secretary, personally replying to all email enquiries and offering kind words and sound advice in often difficult circumstances. Finally, I would like to thank our supervisors, Dr Phil Crockett and Dr Sam Aitcheson for taking time out of office hours to support our team and keep us on the straight and narrow. Some of the Tayside Eating Disorders Service will be offering the same service and we are also very grateful to them for their support as our new group gets off the ground.
Following on from our training last year with B-eat in Perth, we have put in a request to them for a follow-up session, but unfortunately they are busy with a re-organisation at present so this is on hold for the moment. However, we will push for this as it is important that our volunteers get a chance to get together with more experienced people and to discuss possible challenges they may face. Also the volunteer bases change from time to time and new people appreciate the chance of training.
We have explored more funding opportunities this year, most of which have been successful, particularly from Aberdeen University’s Raising and Giving Campaign, and Community Matters funds through John Lewis, Asda and the Co-op. Altogether this amounts to £3800. As we receive no regular funding, we will continue to explore such opportunities. We were also delighted to receive a £250 donation from a group of Ellon Mums, and a personal donation from the grandmother of a Youth Philanthropy Initiative pupil, of £160. This lady competed in the Baker Hughes 10k and donated her sponsorship money of £160 to us. This donation paid for some new books and they are now labelled with this lady’s name in acknowledgment of her generosity.
We were also chosen as the nominated charity of the Rosehill branch of the TSB Bank. This has proved to be very beneficial to both us and the bank staff.
They themselves have raised over £1200 to date for us with various different events such as a sponsored walk up Bennachie, bake sales, a Christmas hamper raffle and a sponsored static cycle. We have shared a pottery painting afternoon with them at Ceramika, which was paid for by them, and they also came along to our Film Event at Café Coast which was also funded by them. Money raised by them has also been spent on cosy cushions and throws, aromatherapy putty and colouring books and pencils in an effort to make the group room more welcoming on arrival. We also have a new ipod, which will be loaded with some relaxing music and some “mood cubes” which will provide relaxing coloured lighting.
Bigger projects include a Wellbeing Day in September featuring a workshop from BodyGossip on Body Image, Yoga and Mindfulness. We also hope to begin an Arts and Crafts Group, which would be held in Rosemount Community Education Centre on a monthly basis. We would hope to include volunteers from Aberdeen University RAG campaign and also TSB bank staff depending on their availability. It is difficult to organise due to everyone’s other commitments, but we hope to get both of these projects on the go as soon as possible.
The film event mentioned was called “Seen but not Heard” and featured young adults who had suffered from various different eating disorders. There were two girls present who had contributed to the film and a lively discussion was had after the film. After its success, another film has been launched featuring young adolescents, and we hope to hold a screening of it later in the year.
We continue to be involved with secondary schools in the region who compete in the Youth Philanthropy Initiative. Groups choose a nominated charity to prepare a presentation on. We have been represented 9 times this year in 6 schools. No wins this year, but a team from Banchory Academy was runner up and raised nearly £600. The Cults Academy group also raised £200. The opportunity to raise awareness within so many different groups is very valuable. The youngsters are always very interested in eating disorders and keen to ask questions. We would hope that this would encourage them to seek help if they or any of their friends became ill. Our thanks go to all pupils and staff involved in this initiative.
We also continue to attend Aberdeen University Freshers’ Fayre and with both this type of event in mind, and various conferences and displays we hold, we have bought some promotional pens and wristbands to spread the NEEDS(Scotland) word a little wider. These are also very popular with the YPI groups in schools.
We do our best to raise awareness where we can and have some presence at regional and national conferences. This is difficult due to other commitments that volunteers have. However, we have had four volunteers attend the North of Scotland MCN Eating Disorders Conference, two attended the Scottish Parliament Conference, there were three at the Carers’ Conference and one at the National Carers’ Conference in London. As well as bringing back more knowledge to the group, there are also opportunities for networking. We also have a representative on the North of Scotland Managed Clinic Network and on the Scottish CAMHS Steering group.
B-eat’s theme for Eating disorders Awareness Week was Eating Disorders in the Workplace. We put out several emails asking different companies to allow us to have displays on site. Paul Donald did a display at Dobbies Garden Centre, and there will be a display at Anderson Anderson Brown Accountants.
Finally, I want to look at the group evenings themselves. The attendance in Aberdeen has been regularly good, with around 8-12 group members and 4-6 carers attending per month. We also have at least one or two new members registering every month and a steady number of telephone/email enquiries. We have revised the group guidelines together with group members and now have a suggestion box. We also encourage group members to email their suggestions to us and hope to take as many of them forward as we can. We have had a talk on Supporting a Partner with an ED, both in Aberdeen and Dundee, by one of our volunteers and her husband. This was so popular that they will publish a leaflet on it. We also had arranged a talk from the author Tina McGuff, but unfortunately she was not able to attend. Group members in Aberdeen have decided to omit the icebreaker and just have occasional speakers in the early half of the evening.
Bridging the Gap has been very successful since its launch, with 28-30 attending per month. They have had a few speakers, Tina McGuff and Dr Paula Collin of the Tayside Eating Disorders Service at the launch, and our own Emma Lindsay speaking about her personal journey to recovery. They have also had one of their new volunteers speaking about yoga. Bridging the Gap hope to begin their own fundraising in the summer, planning a bagpack. In our experience, this is a super way to reach out to the public with plenty opportunities for speaking on a one to one basis about what we do. We have also been successful in obtaining a grant of £360 from the Dundee Voluntary Gateway to cover the group’s venue costs.
NEEDS(Scotland) has come a long way since its early days in a Westhill church. It still provides personal support, helping people help themselves, but now is very much a Scottish presence providing support to fledgling groups and also providing both the points of view of the recoverer and the carer in wider forums. We are indeed reaching out.
I have been involved with NEEDS(Scotland) now for 13 years, and chairperson second time around, for 3 years. I now feel it is time for a fresh face at the helm and intend standing down in 2017, remaining as a volunteer and trustee. I would urge my co-volunteers to think about taking on the role. I would offer my wholehearted support to anyone who takes on the task.