Supported Self-Care Award by NHS England Integrated Personal Commissioning

First Steps ED Befriending Service secures NHS England National Recognition

NHS England, Integrated Personal Commissioning has recognised our work to support children, young people and adults with eating disorders and our stakeholder relationships with health professionals across NHS East Midlands with our online Befriending services that offers support between 6 to 9 months depending upon the individuals personal goals and recovery plan.

Some people may feel ashamed to admit they have an eating disorder, or are not quite yet ready to access face-to-face support services therefore making it difficult for them to be open and honest about their condition.

Others may have sensory requirements and prefer non-face-to-face support.

We also understand the difficulties a family member or friend goes through when a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder, so Befriending is open to carers, too.

The anonymity provided by our online Befriending service enables individuals to discuss potentially embarrassing/ taboo subjects, increases the possibilities for self-disclosure, encourages openness and honesty, and provides the individual access to early preventative solutions.

Our Online Befriending service enables self-referral by people at risk of or with an eating disorder to be supported by people with lived experience.

We match Befriendees with our Befrienders to ensure that the support offered quickly becomes a trusted advocate for the individuals support and/ or recovery journey. We know through lived experience that experts by experience are often best placed to support someone starting out on their own journey.

Your Befriender will contact you on a regular basis, typically twice a week. You are able to email your Befriender any time with as much or little detail as you like, however, we do ask that you make regular contact and reply to each email received back from your Befriender.

Befriending does not offer a “miracle cure”. However, it does give you regular support alongside other support you may be accessing. Your Befriender will also be able to signpost you to other services and help available. It is important that you maintain access to the support made available to you e.g. NHS GP and other health professionals alongside your Befriending.

Your Befriender is provided with dedicated training and on-going supervision and follow a consistent approach to supporting our service users whilst online. Supported by our staff to ensure that our Befrienders receive regular safeguarding evaluation and an opportunity to feedback their insights into our service improvements.

We also provide opportunities for Befriendees to feedback on their service experience to ensure that Befriending remains relevant and up to date.

We have developed our service using a mix of Technology Enabled Care Services (TECS) that includes face-to-face interactions, to suit the needs of those service users comfortable to receive online face-to-face.

Our service-user feedback confirms that Befriending makes a positive impact, supporting sufferers away from negative eating habits towards positive coping mechanisms.

”Over the years I have received a lot of different help from doctors and many different health professionals (NHS but also private)…befriending is by far the best decision I ever made”

”I have found that through talking to my befriender I have become more open and able to talk about how I am feeling, this has extended…into my family life…I have also learned new ways of coping with feelings and new ways of looking at things in a more positive way”


90% of Befriendees report an increase in confidence, self-esteem and mental well-being

94% reported Befriending had been of great personal benefit and aided their recovery from their own eating disorder

93% felt their Befriender made a significant improvement to their quality of life and ability to cope with their eating disorder

88% felt the support reduced their feelings of isolation

100% said their befriender helped to encourage and inspire them, to think differently, and show that recovery was possible

To register your interest in Befriending, please contact First Steps ED

on 01332 367571 or

To access Befriending you will need to complete our Online referral HERE

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