Chairperson’s report from each AGM

Chairperson's Report

Chairperson’s Report 2024

2023/24 has been a strange year. Attendances have not recovered as expected despite continuing enquiries about attending the group. The most likely reason for this is the growth of online support, which is much easier to access for those who find an evening slot difficult to manage or for those in rural areas. This is great, but we still feel that face to face meetings provide something more, and the opportunity to offer a helping hand or a hug if needed.

Although attendances are down, the same level of support is offered, with our personally experienced volunteers sharing the highs and lows of their recovery experiences. This is very highly valued by our group members.

Recently we had a Beat Lived Experience Ambassador come and talk about her recovery experience. She spoke from the heart, was inspirational and much appreciated by everyone.

Since our present numbers do not justify holding a Wellbeing Day, we continued to offer a voucher for a complementary therapy for our regular attenders. This was again very well received and appreciated.

We continue to have quarterly visits from Jake our Therapet who always brings a smile to our faces. He is such a chilled out gentleman!

We have also continued to be represented in our local schools’ Youth Philanthropy Initiative competitions. Two teams from Bucksburn Academy chose to represent us. Although neither group won this time, these presentations raise awareness of eating disorders in our school communities and are very valuable.

Sadly, our satellite group Bridging the Gap remains closed due to lack of premises and shortage of volunteers. Should it be able to resume, we will put a post on our website news page.

This year marks 30 years since two young women approached their church in Westhill requesting a room to offer support to anyone challenged by an eating disorder. Dr Harry Millar, who was the lead clinician for Eating Disorders in Aberdeen at that time found rooms for them to use at the Royal Cornhill Hospital where NEEDS(Scotland) still hold their meetings. We still enjoy the support of the services, NHS Grampian, NHS Tayside and also the North of Scotland Managed Clinical Network. We would like to thank everyone for their support over the years and as we move forward.

Thanks also go to our dedicated volunteers at home and abroad, our website designer, and our amazing administrator who always has a smile and a warm welcome for our group members.

We make our way through our thirtieth year with renewed dedication to supporting our group members through the recovery process, and hopefully encouraging more people to come along and sample what NEEDS(Scotland) has to offer.

Heather Cassie April 2024.

Chairperson's Report

Chairperson’s Report 2017

Chairperson’s Report   24.04.17

Firstly, as always, I must thank all our volunteers, both in Dundee with NEEDS 2 Bridging the Gap and also in Aberdeen. Time is precious to all, but the time you give to those who are challenged by eating disorders, either personally or as carers, is priceless. We all recognise the benefits of support, especially facilitating self help. Our group members acknowledge this, as do the professional services in Tayside and Aberdeen, so thank you for your time and your individual skills. Thanks also to Irene, who diligently organises meetings and does our administration, and also to George Baird who maintains our website so efficiently.

A very special thank you goes to Emma Lindsay for going that extra mile this year, as well as holding down a job, and doing her finals. She has continued to support patients from the Young Peoples’ Department along with Katie Bedford, which is proving a huge success. She has also been instrumental in inspiring two winning Youth Philanthropy Initiative (YPI) teams, Robert Gordon’s College and also Albyn School, talking candidly to pupils about her experience and raising awareness of eating disorders. She has also shared that experience at the second Aberdeenshire Schools’ Conference, which was widely appreciated by her audience of teachers and other school based staff. She also continues to work as a B-eat Young Ambassador, and support our group members each month. Well done, Emma, and all the best for your Master’s year wherever you choose to go.

We have focussed on looking after ourselves this year, with two very successful Wellbeing Days which were totally free of charge to group members, speakers on Kinesiology and Photography as therapy, and the launch of our Arts and Crafts Group, suggested by a group member. All these were made possible by monies raised by Rosehill TSB, Aberdeen University Raising and Giving Campaign 2016, and £3k from Robert Gordon’s College YPI team.

The attendance at the Wellbeing Days was low, but enjoyed immensely by those who did attend; volunteers, some past group members, some present and some carers. Presentations included Yoga, Mindfulness, Movement as Therapy, and Body Image. There was also a selection of alternative therapy taster sessions, Shiatsu, Reiki, Aromatherapy Massage, Deep Tissue Massage, Reflexology available and a Nail Bar. Since we have recently won another YPI, thanks to Albyn School, and we hope to hold more Wellbeing Days next year using this extra funding. Comments ranged from “It was good to spend some time on me.”, to “I feel grounded, relaxed, chilled.”

Our Arts and Crafts Group has also had low numbers attend, but was very much appreciated by those who did attend, and latterly became involved in the Can You Hear Me? Recovery Song project led by 4th Year music student, Nadine Allan. This project used art, mind mapping and music to produce a song for the group. Unfortunately the Arts and Crafts Group will have to fold due to those low numbers, but hopefully we will be able to re-start it in the future.

During Eating Disorders Awareness Week, we were invited to attend a Wellbeing Fayre at Banchory Academy. This was an excellent event for raising awareness, as we were able to chat with pupils from all the different year groups and also school staff.

It has been an immensely satisfying year, with the Wellbeing Days and some group members deciding to move on, acknowledging the role NEEDS(Scotland) has had in their sustained recovery. We have had three new babies born, and we have a wedding, a graduation and an emigration ahead. Life goes on and NEEDS(Scotland) will have to adapt to the changes. It has before, and it will again.

Sourcing volunteers is a constant struggle, but we will survive in whatever way we can to continue to offer support in both Aberdeen and Tayside. I am still keen to pass on the mantle of Chairperson, due to increasing personal commitments, but I will endeavour to do the best I can to keep the group running until someone comes forward.


The following report is from our volunteers at NEEDS2 Bridging the Gap, who continue to provide a much valued and needed service to those in Tayside.

NEEDS 2 Bridging the Gap Report 24.04.17.

Our group was established in October 2015 and has been very successful since then. Our time has been spent developing a routine and settling in to our meeting rooms which are within Dundee Carers’ Centre.

This year we want to focus on fundraising for ourselves and hope to arrange a bagpacking event in a store such as Sainsbury’s, but so far there has been no response. We are also looking at using a pop-up café for an event. Our biggest event is to be a sponsored walk over the Tay Road Bridge on Sunday 11th June. The timings of this event are still to be confirmed. We have also had a team represent us in Carnoustie High School’s Youth Philanthropy Initiative competition. Unfortunately we were unsuccessful this time, but there is always another chance! We hope to publicise NEEDS2 Bridging the Gap so that other schools may select us as one of their charities.

Our volunteers are very appreciative of the local ED Service offering us supervision, which is proving most beneficial. We are most appreciative of the time that this involves out of hours. Unfortunately we have two volunteers leaving. Natasha and Duncan have been a great asset to both groups in Aberdeen and in Dundee, and we wish them well in their new home. Three of our volunteers hope to attend a training event which is being organised by Anne Tremble of the Linda Tremble Foundation in Fife.

Attendance has settled in the group with 8-12 members attending monthly with 3-4 volunteers. Sometimes there can be only one volunteer for carers as there are two needed for group members. It would be good if we could find more volunteers.

Tayside CAMHS have said they would like to become involved. However, there has been little contact so far. They are very keen to set up peer mentoring as in Aberdeen Young Persons’ Department, but sadly there are no younger volunteers available at the moment.

One evening which proved very popular with most group members, was a poetry reading session. Sara Preston’s poem, There is a light and there is a door, was read out and group members discussed their own favourites.

There continues to be regular enquiries regarding the group coming in to South Lodge in Aberdeen, and attendance remains excellent, which shows the continuing need for a group in Dundee.



Chairperson's Report

Chairperson’s Report 09.05.2016.

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.


Heather Cassie
Chairperson NEEDS(Scotland)

Chairperson's Report

Chairperson’s Report 28.04.14.

I must begin by thanking all our volunteers for their hard work, support and dedication over the last twelve months. Thank you also to our newest recruits, who have joined us recently, and inspired the theme of my report this year, “Moving Forward – New Challenges”. Lastly I know everyone connected to NEEDS(Scotland) would join me in thanking Irene Kerr, not only for her enthusiasm and hard work over the past year, but also the part she played in supporting the “This is Me” calendar project.

2013 challenged us in different ways, moving into unknown or little known territories. Some of our group members led by two of our former committee members, developed the idea of a Calendar Girls type calendar to raise funds for both ourselves and Body Gossip, a charity who support positive body image. They researched and planned the project, enlisted the help of some other friends and family, and worked exceptionally hard, culminating in a very successful launch night to develop a very popular calendar. The project proved to be very successful, raising £2717.20 which was split equally between Body Gossip and ourselves. Thanks to all concerned, but especially Jacqueline Fulton, for her determination to see the project through and her amazing project management skills. A link with the charity MBEEDS was fostered, and we now welcome their chairman Paul Donald, as a member of NEEDS(Scotland). Paul has already told us a little of MBEEDS work and also his personal story, and we hope his involvement will encourage more males to come along for support.

Another way in which we have been challenged, is to take the massive step of revamping our website to bring it more up to date, and also to make it interactive. We enlisted the help of George Baird our original website designer, and we set about the task. I say we loosely, as George dealt with all things technical. Alison and I set about composing the new pages, and with Stewart Mitchell’s inspirational photos to make the website easy on the eye, and some inspirational quotes, we went “live” in December. I felt like a very proud new mother! The website has brought us a few new group members, allowed us to display information and supportive material, as well as constantly updating news about the group. We also get a weekly report on visitors to our website which is very interesting to follow.

We have continued to be used in Youth Philanthropy projects in more schools. Mackie Academy, Elgin High School, Keith Grammar, and Albyn have all made presentations to their fellow pupils, and Elgin High School managed to gain a second place. Sadly, none of our teams have won yet, but the amount of awareness raising across the whole of the north east has been incredible. We continue to be involved, and a team from Meldrum Academy are currently interested in presenting on our behalf.

Another first for us was being invited to the Scottish Parliament during Eating Disorders Awareness Week in February. I was there, representing NEEDS(Scotland), but two of our new recruits, Paul and Lori were speaking at Friday’s conference, and another new member, who is also a BEAT young ambassador, Katie Bedford, launched a film about eating disorders. Paul also launched a music EP, which Jacqueline was also involved in, highlighting body image.

I spoke at the Carers’ Conference immediately following the Scottish Parliament events, on how our group developed, and the ups and downs along the way. This tied in nicely with our involvement with HEaDSUP, a new carers’ support group which is being launched in Inverness on Thursday May 1st. Both Alison and I have been involved in supporting the new group, and Lori will be speaking on launch night. We wish Headsup all the best with their new venture, and will continue to offer our support as long as is necessary.

Alison, Judith and I have also done presentations at the Eden Unit for their Parents, Partners and Carers group. This has been well received on both occasions by those present, and raised the profile of NEEDS(Scotland) as possibly something they or their loved ones could use as they progress through treatment.

Another first, has been attending Freshers’ Week events at RGU and also a Health Fair at the Altens Campus of North East Scotland College. We regularly attend Aberdeen University’s Freshers’ Week, but it was good to be able to raise our profile at our other further education establishments.

Over the year, we have had Sara Preston formerly a Beat young ambassador, to speak to the group about her role and also tell her personal story. Jac Fulton a committee member, did a short presentation on what helps her with positive body image. As I have said already, Paul spoke about his group, and also another of our group members, Katie Bedford, told her personal story and spoke about her role with Beat.

Our funds are looking fairly healthy after Jac’s mammoth fundraiser. We have also recently been given a £250 donation from The Retired Police Officers’ Board, which was very welcome. The new website and also a new batch of stationery plus a very useful pop up display have also been purchased.

Attendance to the group has been unpredictable as usual. However, we have seen a number of both carers and sufferers becoming fairly regular attenders. We have also seen a number of new attendees lately, both sufferers and carers.

With increased numbers in mind, it is heartening to have more volunteers on board to assist with facilitating. We have lost Stephanie Murray and Laura Hastings, as they concentrate on their studies, and we wish them well with this, and their future careers.

However we have gained five new volunteers. We have met informally to discuss where we want to take the group next, and these ideas are quite exciting. They require research, and careful planning, before we can commit to anything, but it is good to have the support of our professional supervisor, Dr Phil Crockett with these possible new ventures. One idea is an informal “buddy” system, to help particularly with group members who are going through a transition, especially going from in-patient to out-patient, and also finishing treatment. The other idea is to offer e mail support, which will also require technical input.

Together with HEaDSUP, and the new Glasgow group, Gerbera Eating Disorders Support, we hope to encourage Beat, to re-instate training events in Scotland. Training together would encourage us, as volunteers to network and share ideas and aspirations as we already do with our membership of SEDIG and the associated Carers’ Forum.

As we move forward, dipping our toes in more challenging waters, we also commit to continuing to offer what we do best…and that is providing a safe and welcoming place in which to seek and share support for any adult touched by eating disorders.

Heather Cassie

Chairperson NEEDS (Scotland) 28.04.14.