Small Business Awards 2020

First Steps ED deliver a vital mental health care service across the Midlands for people suffering from eating disorders. As winners of “Best Specialist Mental Health Charity – East Midlands” in the 2020 Corporate Vision Small Business Awards, the team at First Steps ED are being recognised for their work as champions of mental health care. Commencing their crucial service in 2004, First Steps ED have since then committed to providing non-judgemental support to sufferers of eating disorders and their families. It was originally founded by Cathy Cleary, who suffered with an eating disorder as a teenager. Knowing how difficult dealing with this kind of mental health condition is, Cathy set out on a mission to fill the gap where appropriate support resources did not exist. Gaining charity status in 2007, the organisation continues to be developed by people with first-hand experience of eating disorders and comorbid mental health disorders. Everything this charity stands for is based on the experiences of those who have suffered or are still suffering with eating disorders. Their values come from a place that removes stigma and expresses only compassion and understanding. First Steps ED is dedicated to recognising and developing the potential of the people they care for and releasing that potential through passionate support. In fact, many of their service users later become volunteers who work as ambassadors to the organisation’s stakeholders, which attests to the successfulness of the charity’s approach. These kinds of opportunities can be extremely motivating and can help to assist the volunteer’s continued recovery. With the provision of non-clinical early intervention and prevention services, First Steps ED support Public Health services within the community. The supported self-care and recovery services which the charity delivers are mostly commissioned by the NHS, however funding is also received by individual benefactors who wish to make a difference. First Steps ED collaborate with leading researchers and academics who work to improve mental health services. This keeps the organisation up to date on good practices in care programme management and provides their staff with opportunities for further professional development, ensuring they stay ahead of the curve. The charity is also a pillar of support for parents and carers of young people who are faced with mental health disorders. Through their carer skills courses and peer groups, First Steps ED provides the expertise and tools required for parents to adequately support their mental health. As a field which has historically received so much stigma, mental health care is not something that all parents are prepared for or are able to emotionally deal with themselves. The charity’s continuing support for these parents and carers can be the push they need to continue helping those they care for. 2020 brought a new swathe of challenges to the mental health care field with the restrictions that were put in place to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. Even before the pandemic, cases of eating disorders and ill mental health were rising. The anxiety which this global pandemic can induce, and the resultant lack of social contact has been a large factor in these conditions becoming exacerbated. Although necessary these restrictions make it harder for mental health services to be delivered. Therefore, assisting parents and carers to support young people is more important than ever before, as Kevin Parkinson, Chief Executive of First Steps ED told us. He explained that although Best Specialist Mental Health Charity - East Midlands Sep201107 obviously the elderly and the infirm are at the most risk right now, in terms of mental health “It’s the children and young people who have suffered most.” Young people are struggling to access mental health services due to the effects of lockdown. According to the UK mental health charity Mind, during lockdown, “Young people were more likely to find it difficult to access mental health support.” This was usually because they felt their problem was not serious enough given the current situation. For these young people to receive the care they need, it is imperative that mental health charities receive all the support we can give. Kevin Parkinson stresses that, “As we emerge from this pandemic, local charities need everyone’s support if we are to provide care and support close to where we live, learn, play and work.” However, despite the challenges this pandemic is presenting us, First Steps ED have managed to continue their support services. With many of their counselling sessions and skills courses being delivered online, the team at First Steps ED continues to show the same commitment to supporting those in need. Organisations like First Steps ED are instrumental in providing this vital care, raising awareness of how to access it, and reducing the stigma that is all too often associated with mental health conditions. With wide-ranging expertise and a genuine compassion for those struggling with mental health disorders, charities like this are integral to the nation’s ability to persist and overcome in times of crisis. Contact Name: Kevin Parkinson Company Name: First Steps ED Web Address: