After working as a Staff Nurse on an eating disorder unit and then going on to develop an outreach service for people with eating disorders in the community, I decided to set up a charity for eating disorders, based in Cambridgeshire. I was seeing an increase in people being admitted to hospital nationally and felt we needed to get to people quicker. With Sue, a Children’s Nurse who also specialised in eating disorders, we found ourselves a base at Peterborough Council for Voluntary Services, initially as a subsidiary of the eating disorder charity Caraline, based in Luton (a charity close to my heart run by an amazing dedicated lady and her team). This was April 2013 and in April 2014, we became an independent charity, PEDS, registered with the Charities Commission. At this point we had no idea how we would fund our service but we had been working hard on fundraising activities and had received small grants from Waitrose and John Lewis Community Matters, which enabled us to see a few service users and their families each week. We started by seeing people on a Saturday but within a year we were receiving referrals which were resulting in us seeing 15-20 service users each week. We quickly realised that there was a need to see people out of hours and weekends, as evenings and holidays are often times when an eating disorder is most hardest to manage. In 2016 we re-launched the charity from Peterborough Eating Disorder Charity to Personalised Eating Disorder Support. The purpose of this was to be able to reach people outside of Peterborough also and to highlight that PEDS is an individualised service, tailored to meet the needs of the service user and their families. The launch night was attended by over 100 people including service users past and present, their families, GPs, school teachers, nurses, psychiatrists, Deputy Mayor and Mayoress and the actor, Warwick Davis and his family.
Today, we are based at Boroughbury Medical Centre in Peterborough City Centre. We see service users on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and we run a carers group once a month. We continue to source funds and rely on donations and fundraising / grants but we are also very excited to have a current partnership with the local NHS, CPFT which enables us to support a small number of children and adults (and their families) across Cambridgeshire at the earliest point in their eating disorder. Whilst I am extremely privileged to be part of PEDS and am very passionate about improving services for eating disorders, I also see the work that needs to be done… to reach more people, provide education, support and training to schools and GPs and to increase knowledge and understanding of eating disorders. My own experience of recovery from Anorexia has contributed to a life long ambition and commitment to help people and to support a person to get back into the driving seat of their life and not succumb to being a passenger to the eating disorder.
Whilst I am one of the Founders of PEDS and a Mental Health Nurse, I am also a mum to my two beautiful children aged 3 and 5 who I often wondered if I would ever have (due to the effects of my Anorexia). I qualified as a Registered Nurse in 2006 and my experience includes Child and Adolescent Mental Health Eating Disorder Inpatient and Community work, A Case Manager for NHS England East Anglia Area Team, Specialising in Eating Disorders Child and Adult and a recent committee member for the NICE Guidelines for Eating Disorders, 2017. I have also recently completed CBT E Training for eating disorders and have written two articles in relation to supporting someone with an eating disorder. These articles have been added to the Nursing in Practice website and can be viewed here.
I am a firm believer that “if you believe in yourself, anything is possible.”