On Saturday 1st March, following a very successful Eating Disorders Awareness Week at the Scottish Parliament, the Carers’ Forum, a branch of SEDIG, (Scottish Eating Disorders Awareness Group) held a conference at The Edinburgh Training & Conference Venue. Dennis Robertson, MSP opened the conference, and urged everyone to lobby their MSPs to keep the profile of eating disorders high on the agenda at the Scottish Parliament. This was followed by speakers on a wide variety of topics concerning carers, starting with Mrs Susan Ringwood, the Chief Executive of Beat the national eating disorders charity. She spoke about Beat’s philosophy and their 25th anniversary manifesto, in which they make five commitments to people affected by eating disorders. You will find more information about this on Beat’s website, www.b-eat.co.uk. She also spoke about the work of Young Ambassadors encouraging others towards recovery. We are very fortunate to have a Young Ambassador working with us at NEEDS(Scotland).
There were over 50 people attending the conference which also featured a talk by Veronica Kammerling, an experienced Carer and Trainer, on the importance of change. She highlighted many issues which carers face, and also how her family adapted to deal with the diverse needs of two sufferers.
Karen McMahon, a specialist in family based treatment in the treatment of children and adolescents, spoke about working together to tackle Anorexia. She highlighted the importance of the role of families and professionals working together and gave several positive examples of how this can work well. I also spoke about how NEEDS(Scotland) works, its history, and positives and negatives of trying to run such a group. Carers really value such a facility, but it is not always easy to find people who are willing to re-visit the difficult world of eating disorders in order to become facilitators, and we must respect that.
Finally, on a very hopeful and forward thinking note, the launch of a new Carers’ Group in Inverness was announced. A very courageous lady, along with some professionals, family and another carer, have come together to form HeadsUP, which will meet in Smithton Free Church, Inverness on the first Thursday of every month at 7pm. This lady, tragically lost her 19 year old son to an eating disorder, and is launching this group in his memory. Her family felt there was a lack of support for carers in the area. The stresses of living with an eating disorder in your family are magnified so much more if you feel lonely and unsupported. NEEDS(Scotland) wish them well for the Launch Night on May 1st, and will have two volunteers present on the night to support this much needed new venture.