Bath's MP Wera Hobhouse has welcomed the new Anorexia and Bulimia Care (ABC) Support Hub, a service open to all local residents thanks to two year funding from St John’s Foundation, Bath.
Joined by Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Jo Swinson, the pair visited the hub to learn more about the service it provides to people trying to overcome an eating disorder.
The ABC hub has been open since January, operating from Widcombe Social Club from 9.30am to 5pm every Thursday. It’s open to anyone affected by an eating disorder; it could be someone who is battling an eating disorder, or anyone who is concerned about a friend, colleague or family member. It also offers support and outreach to local schools, colleges and universities. The hub is staffed by a team with personal experience of recovery, as well as caring for someone in recovery.
Well over a million people in this country suffer from an eating disorder. Jane Smith, CEO of ABC which runs the hub said: "We are delighted to be able to offer the first free and independent all day drop in support service for eating disorders. Up to date regional figures for eating disorders are difficult to obtain but in 2012 an estimated 8,098 students in B&NES aged 16+ had an eating disorder and prevalence has risen sharply since then."
“Eating disorders can affect men and women of all ages and has the highest mortality of any mental health condition. ABC supports the whole family, offers strategies for recovery and raises awareness for health and teaching professionals.”
Wera Hobhouse, who has been campaigning in Parliament to improve life for people with eating disorders, said: “It’s quite evident to me that early intervention is the best way to reduce the human suffering caused by eating disorders, and ultimately save lives. That’s why it’s brilliant that Bath now has this hub.”
“I encourage anyone reading this who is suffering, or is concerned about someone who is, to reach out to them and seek help. Eating disorders don’t have to define long periods of people's lives.”
Jo Swinson, who co-founded the All-Party-Parliamentary-Group on Body Image in 2010, said: “It is harrowing and heartbreaking to hear the experiences of young people who have suffered from life-threatening eating disorders.”
“Eating disorders are about so much more than someone's weight, so we must provide better training for our medical professionals so they can properly support those in need of help.”
“And we need far more investment in services that provide proper mental health support to everyone, regardless of where they live or what condition is affecting them.”
Imogen Cauthery, who lives in Bath and is battling bulimia said: “Having bulimia is a living nightmare. I have no control, and I fear weight gain more than death. I go to the hub regularly to get the support I desperately need. It’s brilliant because I know they understand me when I talk about how scared I am after binging, and how I have to purge and exercise for hours.”
“People have laughed at me, but everyone at the hub knows what it's like. I've been given so much advice, and I’m finding some of the strategies that I’ve been given very helpful. The government needs to improve support for eating disorders because bulimia is taking over my life.”If you would like to visit the hub, there's no need to book, just come along between 9.30 and 5.30 on Thursdays, downstairs at Widcombe Social Club, Widcombe Hill, Bath, BA2 6AA. More information can be found here.