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Reflections on 2014 and looking towards the year ahead

With the year now drawing to a close, it is a perfect time to reflect on the year passed. In 2014 we celebrated our fifth year anniversary and what a year it has been. In this blog post I want to highlight some of our key achievements as we look forward to 2015 and beyond…

Since I started MGEDT back in April 2009 my goal was to raise awareness of men’s eating disorders and shatter the gender stereotypes so that more men can get the help they need, sooner. Eating disorders are often perceived as issues faced by only young women – however this perception is slowly but surely being eradicated. While the eating disorders community are increasingly aware of men’s eating disorders, we’ve only ‘scratched the surface’ in regards to public awareness.

MGEDT continues to receive emails from male sufferers from across the UK and around the world several times a week. In many of these emails we hear from sufferers who are isolated and feeling ‘like the only one’. For us this a regular reminder that the real work is only just begun and providing support for men with eating disorders, their carers and families remains our number one priority.

2014 in a nutshell…

2014 has been an incredible year and despite the hostile financial climate we have managed to secure new funds to provide peer support services. Live chat one-to-one is now up and running and taking place on Wednesday evenings from January onwards.

In our home city of Brighton and Hove our BHEDS Peer 2 Peer service – launched in the summer – offers peer support to men, women and carers. MGEDT leads on the service with our partner charities As You Are Centre and Brighton and Hove Carers Centre and the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. For the first time ever our local area has community-based support working alongside treatment services.

On a national level we have delivered eight full days workshops for professionals across the country (27 in total over 3 years). Places we have delivered workshops include London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Chester, Bristol, Newcastle, Hull, Norwich, Plymouth and Brighton. For the first time we delivered workshops in Glasgow with Men and Boys Eating Disorders Service Scotland (MBEEDS) and Belfast with The Laurence Trust and Eating Disorders Association Northern Ireland. Over 1000 professionals have attended our workshops from across all four corners of the UK!

This year I spoke at Beat’s International Eating Disorders Conference (EDIC) in London, Talking Eating Disorders Conference in Liverpool and the Labour and Conservative Party Conferences in Manchester and Birmingham in fringe events hosted by Fixers UK on a panel discussing ‘social action.’

We have an impressive media profile with increased coverage including articles in the Telegraph and New Statesman to mention a few examples. My articles for the Huffington Post have had over 1 million reads and 8 out of 16 article being ‘front page’ and promoted on the Huffington Post social networks. I’ve given more than 40 interviews for radio including BBC Five Live and Radio 4 Women’s Hour.

In September we were shortlisted for the European Diversity Awards for ‘Marketing Campaign of the Year’. Other contenders in our category included NHS Employers and Barclays Bank. We were thrilled that our efforts were recognised for a European-wide award.

One of the most exciting developments this year is the recruitment of seven Ambassadors who will form the Steering Group from January next year. Our new recruits will lead on the development of projects, services and campaigns…

5 years going strong…

In April of this year we held our anniversary event ‘Stand Up To Eating Disorders’ in Brighton. Fixers UK (were ITV Fixers) attended and announced (to my surprise) that we had reached to over 18 million people online and in the media to date.

Without Fixers UK MGEDT simply would not exist so I am always grateful to their ongoing support despite being a veteran Fixer at the grand old age of 29 (almost)!

In the year ahead…

For me as Charity Director it has been a turbulent and triumphant year all in one, yet I and the Trustees are confident MGEDT is on the right track.

Over the next year we plan to expand on our peer support groups, mainly focusing on Sussex and South-east initially. In subsequent years we will branch out of our region exploring ways in which to work with eating disorders groups and organisations to build a peer support group network.

On July 10th we will hold our first National Conference in Brighton with many key people working in this area in one room together! To coincide with the conference we will be exhibiting our ‘RecoverED’ photo project at Brighton Jubilee Library busting the myths and stereotypes associated to eating disorders.

2015 will be a colourful and fruitful year if the past year is anything to go by! On this note, I’d like to thank everyone for their continued support…

By Sam Thomas – Men Get Eating Disorders Too Founder and Charity Director

'Men Get Eating Disorders Too' is a registered charity in England and Wales no. 1139351.

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