Befriending Programme Set to Launch
ADULTS battling with an eating disorder will soon be able to access specialist befriending support.
Suffolk-based not for profit organisation, Wednesday’s Child, has been awarded a grant by East Suffolk Council to deliver a unique programme to be curated by those with direct lived experience.
Since the government’s enforced lockdown in March, Wednesday’s Child has seen a significant increase in individuals and families seeking support for disordered eating behaviours.
A survey of those contending with the illness in Suffolk during the pandemic, found 76% had seen their eating disorder thoughts worsen, and 54% had seen a reduction in statutory service provision.
To date, the organisation has delivered one-to-one and group assistance via zoom, as well as creating daily informative content via its website, social media and youtube channel.
Now, Wednesday’s Child is to support both sufferers and their family members via matched befriending, where all befrienders are either fully recovered from an eating disorder, have experienced the illness as a parent or spouse, or have received dedicated training about the disease.
Debbie Watson, founder of Wednesday’s Child, said: “It comes as little surprise to us that the pandemic has created a lot of challenge and distress for those with eating disorders.
“A perfect storm of isolation, routine change, issues over food access, concerns about income and stability, and a reduction in therapy appointments and regular healthcare access, has really heightened negative mental health behaviours for many.
“While any professional healthcare support is of use in this situation, it’s clear that a very ‘specific’ level of empathetic knowledge and guidance around eating disorder recovery can be enormously beneficial.”
She added: “Befriending allows us to match those with genuine past experience, or significant knowledge of the illness, with someone who is directly suffering, or who is trying to help a loved one.
“I’m enormously grateful to East Suffolk Council for recognising the urgency of this need, and for understanding how valuable our new programme will be for people across the county.”
The befriending programme will be delivered via a number of mediums – including phone and video – and will accommodate ‘in person’ interaction where conforming to the government’s current guidance and appropriate for the individual.
Cllr Letitia Smith, East Suffolk Council’s cabinet member for Communities, Leisure and Tourism said: “The pandemic has caused, and continues to cause, additional challenges for those who were already struggling. Our Hidden Needs Grant Programme was originally set up to support older people and families with limited resources who were struggling with social isolation and loneliness. In June this year, we relaunched the programme with a fund of £100,000 to help fund projects, such as Wednesday’s Child, which supports people of all ages who are particularly vulnerable at this time. We are delighted to have been able to support their vital work.”
Wednesday’s Child is keen to hear from those wishing to pre-register for the befriending programme, or those seeking to act as a befriender for the scheme.
Those interested, should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Oct 2020