You or a loved one don’t have to suffer in silence.

Full recovery from an eating disorder is possible, though recovery can take time, and can be different for different people. It might be hard not to compare yourself to other people in recovery, but try not to, as each journey is different.

We provide non-clinical early intervention and prevention services that complement the NHS and Public Health in the community

  • poor body image and body dissatisfaction
  • low self-esteem and self-confidence
  • feelings of worthlessness and loneliness
  • suicidal thoughts and acts
  • depression, anxiety and other psychological disorders
  • maladaptive eating patterns (disordered eating and eating disorders)
  • avoidance of physical activity
  • stress-induced pathophysiology
  • avoidance of medical care

Self-help tips for recovery

  • Express your feelings and don’t be afraid to ask for help
  • Write your feelings down if you struggle to talk about them or draw a picture if you’d prefer that
  • If you’re feeling low find things you can do to calm yourself, listen to music, go for a short walk, pet your dog, colour a picture
  • Write down positive qualities about yourself when you have a good day, so if you have a bad day, you can reflect on them
  • Learn something new that takes you away from your eating disorder
  • Keep busy after meal times
  • Don’t constantly compare yourself to other friends in recovery, it can be helpful to use stories for inspiration but you are an individual and will find your own path
  • Think about your feelings when you’re feeling negative as well as when you’re feeling positive. Write a list of both and then when you’re feeling like you’re struggling read through those positive thoughts

Our support services

We aim to empower you to be in control of your recovery through one-to-one professional and group support and inclusion in positive activities.

Children requiring support, and parents and carers providing support for children can access our services at no cost. As a charity, we are funded by the generosity of people whose contributions allow us to provide these services free of charge. Adults may contribute to ongoing support we provide when accessing any of these services to enable us to keep the services available for those in need.

A safe, non-judgemental and understanding space to give you the time and freedom to talk.

Our counsellors and psychotherapists provide 1:1 therapy to individuals aged 16 and above with eating disorders and general mental health difficulties. They are available daytime, evenings and weekends to suit you.

Psychodynamic – Humanistic – Person-Centred – Integrative – Solution-Focused Therapy (SFT) – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – Creative Arts Therapy – Counselling and Psychotherapy Placements for students

A choice of ways to talk:

  • Face-to-face
  • Video
  • Voice counselling

A range of activities and support.

We always have a variety of topics in our groups and we always aim to make our them fun and stress free.

Our Group Guidelines include:

  • Respect people’s differences and opinions – you all struggle with different issues and are here for different reasons
  • Please do not discuss diets, weight, calories, exercise, or any other triggering topics
  • Please do not expect a miracle cure- we cannot tell you what to do, but can support you to find your own answers.

Groups are not just for anyone struggling with body image, disordered eating or an eating disorder, but are open to anyone with an underlying general mental health condition.

Helping Patients, Parents and Families

Proven to help people suffering with mild to moderate eating disorders to get better and stay better through one-to-one support, focusing on reducing social isolation to regain life skills enabling them to thrive in their hobbies and passions.

Stepped Care Approach to Treating Eating Disorders

We work closely either as a direct commissioned service accepting self and professionals referrals into our mild to moderate services or as a pathway provider with Adults (A-CEDS) and CAMHS (CYP-CEDS) NHS community eating disorders service teams. We ensure that our stepped care approach is effective for step-up and step-down appropriate to our person-centred approach.

  • Step up: If our staff feel it is appropriate to step-up a service user into NHS specialist eating disorder services, our embedded pathway processes enables us to respond effectively.
  • Step down: Our NHS partners also effectively step-down patients into our services as part of their discharge planning process. This ensures that anyone coming to First Steps ED for support receives safe and effective professional support appropriate to their eating disorders requirements.

Where an individual comes to us for support where we may not have an established NHS pathway in place, with consent we will always work with the individuals General Practitioner (GP) requesting medical monitoring is put in place locally to ensure that we can continue to provide safe care whilst they access our services which is often through our video clinic and video group consultation services. This good practice approach ensures that our staff adhered to our safe practice procedures and assures the service users GP understands their patient is receiving appropriate care.

People cannot self refer onto this service as it’s an internal pathway with our NHS partners. Please contact us for more information.

Stumble, support and strength

Befriending is our multi-award winning 6 to 9 month weekly support programme recognised by NHS England’s National Integrated Personal Commissioning Team where we match a service user with one of highly trained and supervised befriendees. Whether it is a dad seeking support from another parent with lived experience whilst his child is receiving direct support from our own services, or in one of our local NHS eating disorders services. A partner seeking that assurance through our expert by experience coaching whilst they provide self-care to their life partner, or a young person who accepts that a 6 to 9 month weekly peer relationship will help to keep them focused on their own recovery whilst learning from someone who has been there themselves and can utilise that experience and apply similar strategies for staying focused on their care plan and journey, Befriending offers long term support that compliments and never conflicts with individuals who could be receiving specialist NHS day care or outpatient support.

A positive approach to recovery is key, and with a progressive attitude you can silence the nagging voice and take control; but don’t expect never to fail again. You are allowed to have a blip, to stumble, to take a step backwards and grapple for a helping hand to find your feet and continue your journey to recovery.

Befriending is offered by a range of modalities including, email twice a week, video clinic at least once a week and telephone or text befriending which is popular for service users with sensory needs. You will agree a contract with your befriender who guarantees to respond to you on certain days and times each week for 6 to 9 months giving you confidence that no matter how many times you choose to keep in touch as a befriendee, your befriender will respond and keep in touch with you the same time every week.

Endorsed by the National Integrated Personal Commissioning Team as a model that can be easily adopted by other mental health services as truly transforming lives. Our befriendees and their parents/ carers agree with many following a sustained recovery in their eating disorder for over 2 years choosing to join our befriending team and give back to new service users and carers just starting out on their own journey to recovering from disordered and eating disorders.

First Steps ED delivers specialist eating disorders in student services (EDISS) to universities in England and Wales with funding from Student Space in partnership with Student Minds.

Students can be professionally referred by local NHS FREED or NHS Community Eating Disorder Services (CEDS) under the Student Space grant funding until 31st July 2021. Students can also self-refer, or be professionally referred from any University ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing’ staff or a student’s university or home General Practitioner (GP).

To make a referral to EDISS in Student Space please use our Referral Form

EDISS is also directly commissioned by a growing number of schools, colleges and universities providing a dedicated support service available to students and the support staff and teachers and lecturers.

It’s a unique and specialised approach to eating disorders within the academic environment. Another unique aspect to EDISS is that our members of staff and volunteers have had the personal experience of suffering with an eating disorder whilst studying at university, college or school meaning that our EDISS model not only offers additional support where others may fall short but has been designed by alumni with lived experience.

EDISS offers the following services:

  • Peer support
  • Counselling
  • Recovery and Self-Help Groups
  • Online Befriending
  • Drop-in support
  • Volunteering opportunities

EDISS allows for service users to access more than one service at any one time, as well as the choice of changing their method of support if for any reason the student feels they are not gaining any benefits.

We also offer support to members of staff working in our college and university partners as well as any alumni students up to 3 years following completion of their degree. In the case of supporting members of staff, EDISS will assess each case on an individual basis. Support for university staff and employees includes training in eating disorders where we are able to offer our CPD accredited Skills for Professionals training course and, on request, our experienced staff are delighted to contribute to student university lectures.

To bring EDISS to your school, college or university please submit your enquiry to

Within our Children and Young People (CYP) service, our Specialist Support Officers provide a one-to-one 10 week stepped care plan support which can be taken over 20 weeks for ages 5 to 18 years with 16 to 18 year olds also offered access to our Adult counselling service. Each 45-minute session is designed to empower and motivate young people to overcome their struggles and take positive strides to improve their mental health, wellbeing and relationship with their body and food.

Our CYP Specialist Support Officers are dual trained in eating disorders and autism and follow our acclaimed, compassionate, assets, and self-actuation care plan approach.

Thanks for a range of grants and funders who support our charity, Children and Young People receive fully funded support, whether one-to-one with our staff or attending our weekly Recovery Self-help groups and psychoeducation workshops such as the 5-week Body Image or 4-week ‘Skills for Siblings’  course developed on the Maudsley Method.

Young people can also gain valuable life skills and work experience opportunities by becoming one of our valued volunteers with progression to become an ambassador and become involved in coproduction of our services and facilitate our weekly support groups.

As a family-orientated service, we encourage the involvement of the family in the growing and repairing along the recovery journey together. By engaging in one of our funded Skills for Carers workshops, parents, carers and older siblings can gain the skills, knowledge and confidence to support both themselves and their loved ones as active partners in recovery.

First Steps ED also works in partnership with other local services to help provide a variety of support options for families and their children, and adults receiving our support can gain access to other benefits and opportunities including access to skills training and qualifications and support into employment.

You can make a referral now

Referrals can either be made by yourself, by a parent/ carer, or professional support worker.
After making a referral, we aim to make contact within 10 workings days.

Please note that due to a sharp increase in referrals, some of our services are experiencing longer wait times.


You can make a private practice booking with our team

Private practice bookings are £45.

All bookings are made in the strictest confidence and available to anyone who is currently impacted by any eating disorder symptoms – be it an individual sufferer, family member or carer.