Day 1: National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

22 February 2010, 06:16

Today marks the start of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, and Heart is doing a series of reports every day highlighting the various issues surrounding the mental illness.

We’ve been speaking to support services, doctors, fertility experts and a woman from Luton who is living with anorexia for 30 years, to see how it affects people in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.

On day one, we have learnt that children as young as 8 years old have been calling a Luton-based support group for advice on anorexia and bulimia.

Caraline was founded by Claire Beacon 16 years ago, on 3rd February 1994, after she lived with an eating disorder for many years, and lost a close friend who died from anorexia.

Based in George Street in Luton, the counselling service provides help for 70 people living in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire, with the oldest client they have treated reaching 72 years old.
But right now they are only operating on a part-time basis due to funding.

Despite that, they aim to extend their services, where they will be opening a new group there on 18th March.

For Claire, the help is out there – you just have to be brave in taking that first step:

“Some people are ashamed to go to their GP to ask for help. People can access our service by emailing, a phone call, and will be booked in for a very comprehensive assessment to look at which treatment pathway they would go down.

“We’re very aware that eating disordering existing children as young as 8 and 9 years old, and our age range is from 14 up, I think ,my oldest client that I have seen was 72, and lived with an eating disorder all their lives.

“What we’ve recognised here at Caraline is that the earlier you catch the disorder the easier it is to treat. Anorexia has one of the highest mortality rates than any other psychiatric illness.

 “I still think that people aren’t aware that actually we are here and we are offering a service and that there is no waiting list. People will be seen within two weeks."

To listen to the full interview with Claire Beacon from Caraline click here

If you would like to speak to someone from Caraline you can call 01582 457474 Monday – Friday 10am-3pm.

Alternatively you can email them through their website at