Our team understand eating disorders and are here to provide hope, opportunities and choices through recovery.

Founded in 2004, it is the unwavering hard work, dedication and passion of our trustees, volunteers, partners, funders and incredible staff which enables us to continue our award-winning and quality-assured support to those struggling with eating disorders, as well as parents and carers and a network of professionals. It is to our team and our stakeholders that we express the greatest and sincerest gratitude that we can grow and continue to be the eating disorder charity in the Midlands.

Our team understand eating disorders. With extensive knowledge and experience, our staff provide the necessary experience to be able to operate effectively whilst relying on the help and support provided by our wonderful volunteers.

Catherine Cleary MBE
Catherine Cleary MBEFounder Director
Kevin Parkinson
Kevin ParkinsonChief Executive
Responsible to our Trustee Board, Kevin heads up the strategy and operational management of First Steps ensuring best possible practise for our stakeholders across the UK.
Rose Hibberd
Rose HibberdOperations Lead
Rose began working at First Steps back in 2013, after previously being a volunteer and service user. As Operations Lead, Rose supports the CEO and Clinical Lead to deliver the First Steps ED Business Plan. The role involves providing leadership and support to the Service Coordinators across the organisation ensuring each service pillar have the resources and capacity to meet commission and grant funded contracts and programmes.
Lucy Robinson
Lucy RobinsonFundraising, Marketing and Communications Manager
Working closely with the First Steps ED team, Lucy is our in-house creative who leads our marketing campaigns and communications. She also designs many of our online resources and digital content to help us raise awareness for the support and services we provide.
Polly Strangwick 
Polly Strangwick Services Coordinator
Polly has a background in psychology and has worked with a range of mental health services. Her role at First Steps involves working closely with the whole team to ensure effective delivery of all our services.
Holly Whitehead
Holly WhiteheadYoung Persons Service Coordinator
Holly has worked at First Steps ED for four years after graduating University with a 1st Class Honours Degree in Sports Psychology. Holly is a friendly and passionate member of the team and leads our Children and Young Persons (CYP) Team ensuring service users get excellent support.
Sharon McCabe
Sharon McCabeIntegrated Community Support Coordinator
Kasmira Spence
Kasmira SpenceCounsellor and Psychotherapist
Kasmira is a qualified Psychodynamic counsellor and joined the team back in 2019, spending part of that time as a volunteer. Kasmira is now part of the EDISS team as well as one of our private therapists. She is a caring, compassionate and understanding member of the team, committed to providing an excellent service for any service user within First Steps ED
Lauren Donaghy
Lauren DonaghyBefriending Service Coordinator
Following four years volunteering with First Steps ED as an All-Ages Group Facilitator and one of our valued befrienders, Lauren is now our Befriending Service Coordinator. Her role involves training and supervising the 70 volunteer befrienders who offer 1:1 support to service users via email, video or phone.
Kate Fletcher
Kate FletcherCounsellor and Psychotherapist
Kate has recently joined the First Steps team having completed an MSc in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy. Kate has a background of providing therapy for trauma and experience in working with a variety of presenting issues; using a range of modalities to adapt to an individual’s needs.
Manaal Mulla
Manaal MullaCounsellor and Psychotherapist
Manaal is a qualified integrative psychotherapist and has been part of the team since 2020. Previously joining as a volunteer, she is now one of our private therapists. Having been raised in Dubai, being of Indian origin and now based in the UK, she takes great interest in how a client’s background influences their identity and lived experiences.
Laura Evans
Laura EvansSpecialist Support Officer
Laura started volunteering for First Steps in 2018 and now works within our Eating Disorder in Student Services (EDISS), predominately based at Loughborough University. She facilitates our weekly EDISS recovery group, hoping to create open and understanding environments in both group and one to one settings.
Sam Raby
Sam RabyAssistant Young Persons Coordinator and PPIE Boys and Men Lead
Sam has been part of the FSED team from volunteer to Bank staff and now specialist support officer, working within our Children and Young Persons (CYP) service. Sam also supports the PPIE committee as our Boys and Men lead, working to improve our services for those who identify as male.
Danny Morley
Danny MorleySpecialist Support Officer
Dan joined the team in 2020 as one of our supporting bank staff, but moved to full time later that year! Danny works predominantly with young people, giving peer support and running our ‘Waiting Well Clinic’, designed around psychoeducation.
Zoe Burnett
Zoe BurnettSpecialist Support Officer
Zoe has recently joined our First Steps ED team as a specialist support officer within the young people’s team. With her own lived experience and a creative background, Zoe has over ten years experience working with children and young people. She is passionate and particularly interested about promoting positive body image in a safe non-judgmental way.
Becky Hall
Becky HallSpecialist Support Officer
Becky recently joined First Steps ED as one of our new Specialist Support Officers within the Children and Young People service and Integrated Community Support Worker. Becky has experience supporting young people with complex mental health difficulties through volunteering and her own personal experiences.
Naomi Crowson
Naomi CrowsonSpecialist Support Officer
Naomi has recently joined the team as a Specialist Support Officer within our Children and Young Persons (CYP) service, after volunteering for First Steps since 2019. Having gained experience working with other charities, as well as completing an MSc in Health Psychology, Naomi is passionate about using her knowledge, experience, and interest in mental health to support service users.
Rachael Tomlinson
Rachael TomlinsonBefriending Support Worker
Rachael is an experienced befriender, having been a volunteer now for around 7 years! Rachael has recently taken on a supporting role and assisting in the application and matching up process for our befriending service, as well as supervision of the befrienders.
Megan Rowe-Jones
Megan Rowe-JonesVolunteer Coordinator
Megan recently joined the First Steps team and is currently in the 3rd Year of a BSc in Counselling and Psychotherapy Principles and Practise. Megan supports the coordinators in the recruitment of volunteers for First Steps ED and promotes volunteer opportunities through universities and other voluntary organisations.
Tabitha Moorse
Tabitha MoorseCPD Training Consultant and Befriender
Tabitha began supporting First Steps as an email befriender in August 2020, following her completion of a BSc (Hons) in Dance Science. She now also delivers our ‘All Ages and Genders’ and ‘Body Image and Perception’ CPD modules, and assists with referrals administration. Outside of her roles within First Steps, Tabitha works as a specialist support officer with eating disorder charity Beat.
Megan Holmes
Megan HolmesCPD Training Consultant and Befriender
Megan joined the First Steps team as an email befriender two years ago, and now delivers the ‘All Ages All Genders’ and ‘Body Image & Perception’ CPD training courses. Her work is guided by her lived experience of an eating disorder, as well as her Masters degree in Human Nutrition.
MichaelCPD Training Consultant and Befriender
Grace Taylor
Grace TaylorNutrition Consultant
Grace is our freelance Nutritionist. She graduated with a BSc (Hons) degree in Public Health Nutrition and is here to develop our nutrition pathway service, as well as offering support in providing digital resources and information for all service users at First Steps. Grace also offers one-to-one online nutrition consultations to service users to help build an understanding of nutrition and the foods our bodies and minds require to stay healthy and happy.
Hannah Hickinbotham
Hannah HickinbothamNutrition Consultant and Workshop Facilitator
Anna Monaghan
Anna MonaghanMaster Reiki Practitioner
Anna is a Master Reiki practitioner in Usui Reiki and provides our Distance Reiki service. Anna is passionate about providing Reiki, empowering others to seek balance, vitality and happiness in their lives, and giving people what they need to inspire their journey towards physical, emotional, mental and spiritual change and well-being.

Volunteers continue to play a fundamental role in what we do, supporting both the charity and our service users. The opportunities available to volunteers comes in many forms throughout the year from service delivery to communications and content support. Our volunteers, befrienders and student counsellors remain one of our most valuable assets and play a huge role in ensuring our services and support channels remain open and available to those who need us. To learn more about how you can get involved or support us, visit our ‘Get Involved‘ page!

Patient Public Involvement and Engagement Committee

The involvement of service users and carers is vitally important in making sure our activities are relevant to our key stakeholder groups and all the people our organisation impacts. Our PPIE committee was created to ensure that our patients and the wider public are involved in the activities we undertake. Patients and the public bring a wealth of experience and provide valuable perspectives on the way that our services are designed and delivered.

Emily Elson
Emily ElsonPPIE Chair
Emily has been a part of First Steps for more than 12 years, watching the service grow from an intimate community support group into a flourishing mental health and specialist eating disorder charity. With a unique ‘Expert by Experience’ perspective, Emily has played a crucial part in many developments here at First Steps, facilitating support groups and training as well as representing First Steps ED at a number of events and awards.
Georgie Lazzari
Georgie LazzariPPIE Marketing and Communications Lead
Georgie leads the communications within our PPIE committee and acts as the liaison between our service users and CEO/Trustees to ensure our promotional materials are reflective of our community. She also assists with staff and volunteer training, raising awareness and creating resources for use in schools and colleges.
Sam Raby
Sam RabyPPIE Boys and Men Lead
Sam has been part of the FSED team from volunteer to Bank staff and now specialist support officer, working within our Children and Young Persons (CYP) service. Sam also supports the PPIE committee as our Boys and Men lead, working to improve our services for those who identify as male.
Daniel Green
Daniel GreenPPIE Parent and Carer Lead
Having dealt with First Steps, NHS CAMHS and Adult services as a parent of a service user, Dan recognises the importance of involving family members in the overall care plan for service users and would like to explore ways in which we can improve on training and support for families and carers to help them understand their pivotal role in children’s and partners recovery.
TashaPPIE BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) Lead
First Steps ED introduced a unique BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) perspective to our PPIE committee in 2020. As one of our ‘Experts by Experience’, this role involves sharing extensive Eating Disorder research and expertise, with special interest in Anorexia Nervosa, Autism And Restrictive Eating Disorders within the minority ethnic community groups.

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