The Annual General Meeting of NEEDS(Scotland) was held at the Macrobin centre on Monday 28th April at 6.30pm. The meeting was attended by several committee members and several new volunteers. We lost three members from the committee this year. Laura Hastings relocated to the West of Scotland to continue her studies at university. Stephanie Murray will be graduating and embarking on a new career, and Jacqueline Fulton is moving on with recovery and life free from an eating disorder. We thank all three ladies for their time, dedication and skills, facilitating and mammoth efforts fundraising, and wish them well for the future. Our office bearers remain in post for another year. We welcome six new volunteers, who we know will provide support, inspiration and, above all hope to those affected in any way by an eating disorder. One of our new volunteers is also Chairperson of MBEEDS(Men and Boys Eating and Exercise Disorder Support(Scotland). We hope that having a male volunteer with experience as a sufferer will encourage any males affected to come along to our monthly support evenings. I also hope that my IT skills will allow me to post the Chairperson’s report, so that all visitors to our website will be able to get an overview of our activities over the past year, but please don’t hold your breath!
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.
The committee of NEEDS(Scotland) were fortunate to be invited to several events organised by the Scottish Parliament for Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Dennis Robertson, MSP, has kept the profile of eating disorders high on the agenda at Holyrood for the last two years, after tragically losing his daughter, Caroline to anorexia, and organised a week of events to raise awareness. There was a reception in Edinburgh Castle on Wednesday 26th Feb where the First Minister, Alex Salmond was able to speak with professionals, recovered sufferers, carers and volunteers. He appeared profoundly moved by what he had heard during the evening.
On Thursday 27th February, at the Scottish Parliament a very informative film featuring three girls who had experience of eating disorders was launched, along with a charity song written by Paul Donald of MBEEDS, Men and Boys Eating and Exercise Support(Scotland) Both will play a significant part in raising awareness amongst young people. You can buy the EP from itunes priced at £3.16.
The week of events culminated on Friday 28th February with a conference “Eating Disorders- The Way Forward”. The conference looked at the current state of affairs in Scotland, and explored how Scotland could move forward in this field. Sessions included The Role of the Media, Fashion, Technology and Social Media, Eating Disorders in Males, Nutrition and Dieticians and Supporting Families and Carers. MSPs from all parties, carers, clinicians, volunteers and those affected by eating disorders attended some very lively and at times very emotionally charged debates. Many different perspectives were explored and views heard.
The events provided a great facility to hear views from all sides of the debate and for invited guests to build contacts and learn from one another. Dennis Robertson urged anyone encountering difficulties with services provided to contact their MSP and make them aware of their situation. You can find out the name of, your MSP through the Scottish Parliament website, by submitting your postcode.
The debate which took place on 26th February led by Dennis Robertson, MSP on Eating Disorders can be viewed through YouTube, by doing a search using the date and Dennis Robertson, Eating Disorders.
Happy New Year to all our group members! There are still a few This is Me calendars for 2014 available and the campaign organiser has now reduced them to half price. This is an excellent way to remember all those important dates, and raise money for NEEDS(Scotland) and Body Gossip. Contact Irene by phone or e mail to order yours. Please remember Irene is in the office on
Mondays each week.
As our fresh and new website goes live, there are a few people, whose time and talents have to be recognised and acknowledged.
George Baird of Resourceful.IT, for his talents, flare and oceans of patience during the development of the website.
Alison Fitzgerald, committee member and facilitator, for her support and IT skills in mapping out and designing the content.
Dr Philip Crockett, Consultant Psychiatrist at the Eating Disorders Service, Royal Cornhill Hospital, Aberdeen, for his advice and support on medical issues.
Dr Jane Morris, Consultant Psychiatrist, Eden Unit, Royal Cornhill Hospital, Aberdeen, for her support and advice on maintenance and recovery after an eating disorder.
Stewart Mitchell, of Earthly Light Photography, for allowing us to use some of his amazing photographs.
Past and present members of our committee and group members who have given advice, support and testimonials.
Irene Kerr, our administrative assistant who is our linchpin, and will be keeping our website updated.
What Schools know about Eating disorders: Sharing Good Practice September 30th 2013
Heather attended this conference held at Porthlethen Academy, which was pitched at school staff from Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire, hosted by the latter. The conference was opened by Dennis Robertson, MSP, who’s daughter sadly died from an eating disorder. He now spends much of his time raising awareness of eating disorders, and keeping their profile high on the agenda in the Scottish Parliament. Dr Jane Morris from the Eden Unit looked at what eating disorders actually are, and that was followed by staff from Westhill Academy looking at how schools managed eating disorders. Following a short break, Dr Rachael Smith looked at what professional services are available, and Jan McDonald, a parent, suggested ways in which schools may support any affected pupils. The final presentation was given by a b-eat Young Ambassador, Sara Preston, who gave an account of what is was like to be a young person struggling with the illness. The following workshop looked at all the presentations and groups were asked to develop three questions to present to a panel made up from the speakers. Aberdeenshire Council delegates then rounded off the day by making relevant pledges to support those affected by eating disorders in schools. It was a very informative and awareness raising day, which allowed lots of networking with delegates from all over the north east.
Presentation from Young Persons’ Department (YPD)
Two ladies came along to our September group meeting and gave a presentation on body image. After a short presentation, there was time to discuss the topic and how it impacts on our lives through the media.
Sara Preston, Scottish Young Ambassador for b-eat
We were extremely lucky to secure the services of Sara Preston, one of b-eat’s Scottish Young Ambassadors to come and talk to us at the November meeting. Sara started by giving us an insight into the work of b-eat and what the Young Ambassadors do. She then gave us an account of her own experience of having an eating disorder as an adolescent and subsequent recovery and the completion of her studies. Many of our group members were very moved by her words, and inspired by what she has achieved. She then, very generously took part in our sharing time, spending time with both carers and sufferers.
“This is Me” Calendar
One of our group members and some of her friends and family came together to produce a calendar which celebrates positive body image, raising funds for the national charity Body Gossip and NEEDS(Scotland). The group have included a positive statement about body image on each page. The calendar has been featured in Trend magazine, the online publication Aberdeen Voice, and also the Evening Express.
We wish them well for their launch night at The Albyn, on Saturday November 9th at 7.30pm.