A new support and information service has launched in central Bath for anyone concerned about eating disorders, either those with or without a formal diagnosis, their family, friends and carers.

The ABC Support Hub is run by Bristol-based eating disorders charity Anorexia & Bulimia Care and funded by B&NES for an initial two year period. The weekly Support Hub will be staffed by members of ABC’s support team who have both professional and personal experience of eating disorders.

Running every Thursday from 9.30am to 5pm at the Widcombe Social Club in Bath, attendance is free to all and there is no need to book. The drop in will provide:

– Confidential emotional and practical support before and after diagnosis
– Information on treatment options available, and how to access
– Self-care and coping strategies for individuals and carers
– Encouragement and support during recovery
– The chance to meet others, share experiences and reduce isolation

Over 1.6 million people in the UK are estimated to be directly affected by eating disorders. Anorexia most commonly affects girls and women, although it has become more common in boys and men in recent years. On average, the condition typically develops during teenage years.

Recent studies suggest that as many as 8% of women have bulimia at some stage in their life. The condition can occur at any age, but mainly affects women aged between 16 and 40 (on average, it starts around the age of 18 or 19). Reports estimate that up to 25% of Britons struggling with eating disorders may be male.

According to the report, ‘Children & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Transformation Plan’, in 2013, there were 3,879 children and young people aged 14-25 most at risk of an eating disorder in B&NES. The highest prevalence was amongst girls aged 16-24 years.

In addition, SWEDA (Somerset & Wessex Eating Disorders Association) estimates that around 5,000 people in the county of Somerset will have a clinical eating disorder, with a further 5,000 having an eating disorder that has a significant impact on their life and health. This includes women of all ages, the majority being between 14 – 35 years of age. Around 10% of sufferers are male. Eating disorders also impact on family and friends of sufferers so the estimated figure for need in Somerset could be in the region of 50,000.

ABC is a national charity based in Bristol. For 30 years it has provided support to anyone affected by eating disorders or distress, including Anorexia, Bulimia and binge eating disorders.

ABC provides a telephone and email helpline for both individuals and family/friends, and a befriending service where people who have recovered from an eating disorder are paired with a person currently going through the recovery process to provide peer to peer support. The charity also campaigns for increased awareness and consideration of the management of eating disorders and trains professionals who may encounter someone with an eating disorder in their work.