First Steps ED is an award-winning quality assured Mental Health and Specialist Eating Disorders charity working across the Midlands, and further afield providing care and support for adults, children and young people providing coping strategies and recovery services which are directly commissioned by NHS partners and through grants from funders who’s aims are to support individuals, families and communities.
Our founding principles are built up from experts from experience having lived with and recovered from Eating Disorders. As a learning and research organisation we consistently benchmark our services and outcomes from internationally recognised quality standards always applying the latest metrics to measure our outcomes.
Our service clients and carers underpin our culture and behaviours with many becoming volunteers and befrienders working side-by-side with our employees as ambassadors to our partners and communities.
The NHS England iudging panel from the HSJ Awards (2017) recognised our service as ‘a wonderful, inspiring example of a truly person centered service that compliments local services and that demonstrably transforms people’s lives’.
Dr King – GP
“First Steps have been involved with several of my patients with eating disorders. They have offered individual counselling, group sessions and video clinic communication appropriately to help with affected patients and their families.
When a patient or relative has taken the often huge step to come and talk to their GP about an eating disorder it is essential that they can access support quickly and First Steps offers this in a non judgemental way.
I am impressed with the service that you provide and know that my patients lives have been changed for the better because of the work you do.”
Selina Hussain – Befriender
“I just wanna say thank you for all of your support through volunteering, as volunteering for this organisation was probably one of the best decisions I made.”
KR – Volunteer Group Facilitator
“I have been volunteering with First Steps for over a year, helping co-ordinate the young people’s groups. I decided to volunteer as I had experienced an eating disorder over ten years ago as a teenager, I was hospitalised on three occasions, the third time I was lucky enough to have the support to help me towards recovery, I found somebody I could talk to. By volunteering I wanted to be able to offer hope that there is the possibility of recovery. Volunteering has been very rewarding; it’s been challenging and at times difficult. Volunteering has made me realise what a skill it is to be able to help someone find their own way, it made me realise that not everybody is ready to recover, but by coming to the group they have made the first step towards a new life, one that doesn’t involve an eating disorder. The most rewarding part of volunteering has been seeing the change in some of the young people from when they first joined us. I hope we can continue to be supportive and can offer a safe place to talk. It’s a service I wish I’d have had when I was in that situation. It enables the young people to make friends and rids them of some of the isolation even for just a short time, I’m glad to be a part of that.”
Michelle Ward – Counsellor
“It’s fantastic volunteering for an organisation that seeks to be led by service users. It has the freedom to be client-centered without restriction, which many ‘client-led’ organisations cannot claim! There is so much happening on so many levels, there is a real sense of belonging to a network that is meeting the challenge of eating disorders on every front – where all volunteers are valued equally and given the chance to use their skills in as many areas as they want without any pressure to do so at the same time! It’s an inclusive service for both clients and volunteers! If only more places like this existed.”
Stephanie Mawer – Volunteer HR Advisor
“I have really enjoyed working with First Steps, I think it is a great charity to be a part of, not only are the volunteers and board committed to the charity and the way that we run, but they are 100% committed to the people we support – that’s rare to find these days. I am looking forward to continuing to work with First Steps and developing the charity even more, the more we continue to grow as a charity the more people we can make contact with, and if that is one more person we can support then we are happy!”
“I have volunteered for First Steps for about three years and find it such an interesting and rewarding experience. I still remember the first time I came along to the group, I was so nervous and really didn’t know what to expect. What I found were a group of supportive, kind and caring people who are all there for each other and really want to do their best to get better and help each other to do so. I struggled with eating difficulties quite a while ago and never really talked to anyone at the time, so it took me a while to get used to being able to talk about it openly and honestly to people. But I realised that sharing my experiences, and what helped me to recover, could help other people. However, I think that one of the most useful things we do as volunteers is to give people a chance to talk and listen to their stories. I have met so many fantastic people through First Steps, both members and volunteers, and hope to keep volunteering for years to come.”
Volunteer Award Winner 2010
“I feel honoured and privileged to have received an award and to be a part of First Steps. I am so happy to be a part of such a wonderful organisation and to be able to input into that much needed support that is given through First Steps to service users. I have met such lovely people and feel truly blessed to be a volunteer for First Steps. I look forward to continuing to contribute to the work of First Steps.”
Derby University Student Wellbeing Service
“On behalf of the wellbeing team I’d like to say a big Thank you to Cathy and Rob for coming to give an excellent presentation last week at The University. Feedback from those that attended was that it was very interesting, useful and gave a really clear picture of the services on offer which will help staff here to make appropriate referrals.”
Service User, Befriendee
“It wasn’t until I was in my late 30’s and that a mental health nurse identified I had an Eating Disorder and referred to Firsts Steps for support. I did not think you can have an ED when you are overweight, I thought it meant you just couldn’t control your food and you are weak minded. First Steps supported me in identifying and accepting that I had an ED, which was very hard for me. FS made feel welcome to their charity and made the transition as easy and painless as they could in dealing with fact that I have an ED. Especially when the majority of society judge large or thin people when they don’t what it is like and think ED is an excuse to eat or not eat and get attention.
We decided on the best treatment for my situation, which was having a befriender who emails me twice a week. I get on so well with my befriender and find it really easy to write to hear and can do it when I want to. If I don’t want to write much or write lots and everyday thats OK too. We discuss many topics relating ED’s and my history in order to try and identify areas we can work on one step at a time. But accepting you have an ED and getting help is the hardest thing to do, but first steps are really there for you and hold your hand (metaphorical) through it all and will support you if you want it. My attitude towards food is getting better and I am slowly try to take the control back of deciding what to eat and when. I know it a slow process and there is no miracle cure but I have had a befriender for over 6 months now and it is really working for me.”