AN eating disorder charity has today launched a new campaign with hopes to tackle the stigma that surrounds the illness.
Bristol-based Anorexia and Bulimia Care (ABC) is encouraging people to get involved with its Change of Heart campaign, which is being launched just before this year’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week (EDAW) from February 24 – March 2.
The campaign asks people to have a ‘change of heart’ about the way they perceive eating disorders and those who suffer. It features an online project where people are asked to send in a photo of themselves holding the charity's Change of Heart logo along with a sentence on what they would like to see changed.
Imogen Smith, from the charity which operates nationally, said: “We’d like as many people as possible to get behind this campaign and help us to tackle the negative connotations which so often go hand –in-hand with eating disorders.
“The idea is for people to send in a photo of themselves in a heartfelt location, holding the Change of Heart logo which they can download from our website onto their phones, tablets or laptops.
“We would also like them to write a sentence telling us what changes they would like to see in the common perceptions about eating disorders.
“We will then post the shortlisted entries on our Facebook page and website with the hope that those suffering will see that they are not alone while anyone with preconceived notions about eating disorders will recognise it as a serious illness. We will then judge the overall winning entry.”
The winner of the competition will receive a tour of the House of Commons and House of Lords, and can bring a friend. They will be shown around by MP Tessa Munt, followed by afternoon tea in the Houses of Parliament. All travel expenses to London for the winner will be paid and they will also receive £150 spending money.
Tessa Munt MP, who has supported the charity for a number of years, said: “This February I am supporting ABC’s Change of Heart campaign which aims to tackle the stigma often associated with eating disorders.
“Anorexia and bulimia affects people of all ages and from all walks of life. We need to ensure that this growing problem in our society is recognised as a serious mental illness and that the taboo which often goes along with it is tackled head on.
“Latest figures show that national hospital admissions for eating disorders have gone up 8% in the last year bringing the total to 2,560 admissions. This startling reality highlights that something needs to be done.
“ABC’s campaign, which encourages people to have a ‘change of heart’ about the way they perceive eating disorders and sufferers, will run throughout Eating Disorder Awareness Week.
“I’d like to see as many people as possible get involved and lend their support. Together we can put a stop to the stigma surrounding eating disorders.”
Imogen, who has suffered from an eating disorder herself, added: “Personally, I would like to see a change in the way eating disorders are perceived as merely forms of control and acts of teenage vanity. They are complex emotional illnesses that can be life-threatening.”
Anorexia and Bulimia Care, based in Clifton, was founded in 1989 as a registered charity to support anyone affected by anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and any kind of eating distress.
To support ABC’s Change of Heart campaign, email your photo and sentence to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline is March 14 with the winner being announced shortly afterwards.