National Eating Disorder Awareness Week – Every shape has a place at the table

Written by Tiziana Silvestre


This week (28th of Feb – 6th of March) is the National Eating Disorder Awareness Week which focuses on raising awareness, hope and support and educating the public around eating disorders. ELBA has recently partnered with East London NHS Foundation Trust, Barnado’s, BEAT, Place2Be and Healthy London Partnership to support the creation of a preventative open access clinical resource. These resources will help with children and young people’s return to a healthy relationship with food, to build their capacity to manage their mental health, their bodies and eating behaviours, to advise their parents and carers how best to support their children, as well as for professionals on how best to support families. 

During the 2020 pandemic there has been a mental health needs’ increase in children and young people brought on by lack of social interaction, disruption of day to day activities and education which has led to worries and stress. Between June 2020 and March 2021 Barnardo’s led the See, Hear, Respond programme reaching over 100,000 children, young people and families. 66% of these children were identified as requiring support with mental health and emotional wellbeing. In a YouGov poll of 4000 children and young people, more than two-fifths (41%) felt lonelier than before lockdown, and more than a third said they were more worried (38%), sadder (37%) or more stressed (34%).

Furthermore there has been a rise in young people presenting disordered eating, likely due to changes in lifestyle, reduced social contact and rise in food insecurity leading to potential unhealthy food intake. The number of under 20s admitted to hospitals with eating disorders has risen by over 50% compared to 2019/20 (NHS Digital) with an increase in waiting time and not enough specialist staff to meet demands. 

These stats are worrying and show a real need for an increase in support. ELBA and its partners are focusing on three main pillars in the battle against eating disorders:

Devices and connectivity – We are consulting stakeholders what elements are needed for digital enablement for both service users/patients and practitioners/clinicians. We are involving businesses and the wider community in finding collaborative and innovative ways to support a fit for purpose digital inclusion. 

Skills – We are looking to establish a programme for capacity building and skills development across a range of grassroots, larger volunteer centres and NHS organisations to become more aware and capable in using digital delivery methods.

Places and spaces –  We will also address access and availability of places and spaces where young people and their carers can use digital infrastructure to speak confidentially to helpers and clinicians. We will work with our community partners to identify trusted, familiar and most amenable spaces for the widest engagement of young people. 

If you are keen to learn more about the project, please contact Tiziana Silvestre,

For more information on National Eating Disorder Week visit: Eating Disorders Awareness Week – Beat

If you or someone you know would like to talk with someone about eating disorder/disordered eating contact BEAT: Get information and support – Beat

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