National charity Care for the Family is launching the first UK telephone befriending service for parents of children with an eating disorder.
Available from October, the service will be the first to offer parents one-to-one, ongoing support from trained ‘befrienders’ who have themselves been through the experience of having a child struggle with an eating disorder.
Care for the Family set up the service because it is frequently contacted by parents of children who have an eating disorder and are seriously ill.
Studies suggest that eating disorders in children are at an all time high with as many as a quarter of adolescent girls in the UK currently affected. Half of nine to ten year olds say they want to be thinner and anorexia has been reported in children as young as seven.
Katharine Hill, Director of Policy, Research and Development at Care for the Family says: “People can develop an eating disorder at any stage of life, but those most at risk are children and teenagers. Having a child with an eating disorder affects the whole family and can place a huge strain on relationships between parents and with siblings. We want parents to know they are not alone.”
As part of a new working partnership, all befrienders will be trained and supported by national charity Anorexia & Bulimia Care (ABC). The expertise of the trained, volunteer befriender will be matched as closely as possible with the situation of the parent needing support. Each befriender will offer practical encouragement and insights drawn from real life, giving parents reassurance and emotional support to help them cope. The relationship will be informal and non-judgmental and the parent will be able to speak to the same person for as long as they need it.
To arrange to speak to a befriender call (029) 2081 0800 or email email@example.com .
For further information on eating disorders visit www.careforthefamily.org.uk/supportnet.