On the 19th of May MGEDT hosted their first ever conference, which is the only one of its kind ever to be dedicated to the needs of Men who suffer from eating disorders.
MGEDT had the chance to showcase our achievements from the last 18 months including our recent leaflet and poster campaign, training development and obtaining major funding sources and charity status.
There was also a presentation on the future of MGEDT and our new website went live during the day, which is the cornerstone of our service and the delegates were impressed with the new look front door to MGEDT.
Our Trustee Russell Delderfield spoke about his research project currently being carried out at Bradford University, looking at the experiences of men that suffer or have suffered from eating disorders. His research is greatly needed as there is very little academic work carried out that is specific to men. Russell’s presentation was incredibly interesting and he is a credit to have on our board.
We were lucky enough to have an array of experienced, outstanding professionals attend to talk about their work in the field of eating disorders including Eileen Murphy, Matthew Campling & Jenny Langley. They have backgrounds of professional and personal experience which bought a great discussion into the room.
Jenny Langley, author of boy anorexia gave a fascinating insight into the work she does raising awareness of eating disorders that affect men and a presentation looking at exercise and eating disorders. Her work comes from her experience of having a son who suffered from Anorexia, and now uses this experience to raise awareness and train professionals.
A highlight of our day was to hear the touching story of Ollie Roche, an 18 year old Anorexia sufferer. We have met him before when we went to the launch of NotED in Plymouth, which was set up by his mother, Debbie to address the needs of young people who suffer from eating disorders in the South West of England.
Ollie’s story is powerful, and a prime example of why we exist as a charity, he spoke of his on-going recovery from Anorexia and his determination to beat his disorder and move on. He told our delegates that he was “sick of this illness” and went onto explain how his treatment was carried out in a general unit, as there were no specialist facilities available. Both Ollie and Debbie feel that Ollie would have been better treated in a specialist unit, which is why they are fighting to improve specialist provision in Plymouth. While very much still in recovery I have no doubt in my mind that Ollie’s determination and the unfaltering support from his Mother will see him make a fantastic recovery. He told his moving story which provoked a lot of discussion and feeling in the conference and really bought the subject of the day to life.
Our final part of the day saw the question & answer session, which concluded the day with a fascinating debate about male body image, treatment available to men, the accessibility of information and the ever controversial media debate.
Nick Watts, Trustee and Volunteer Project Support Worker, says: “All in all I think that the conference was a great success, and I certainly hope that there will be many more to come, it was entitled “a platform for which men can get their voices heard” and I think we really achieved everything that stands for.
We gave eating disorders not only a professional voice, but the voice of mothers, sufferers and carers together in one room, united against eating disorders.”
Photos and video clips from the Half Day Conference will be available soon.