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.
Chairperson NEEDS (Scotland) 28.04.14.