About Us

Team Supreme - First Steps Derby

First Steps is Derbyshire’s only eating disorder charity. We support people all over Derbyshire and the surrounding areas who are affected by eating difficulties and disorders; this includes parents, partners and families.

The majority of staff and volunteers have personal experience of an eating disorder either as a sufferer or as a parent, carer of friend and can understand the difficulties that eating disorders cause.

First Steps Derbyshire offers a friendly and non-judgmental atmosphere for anyone who is having difficulties with food related issues; you don’t have to be diagnosed with a particular eating disorder.

If you come along to our sessions at Ingham House, 16 Agard Street, Derby DE1 1DZ you will soon realise that there are other people feeling the same way as you.

Our services include: support groups, drop-in, support for families and friends, email, text, phone support, Creative Expressive Therapies, Hypnotherapy,  befriending, one to one support, Training and Development for Volunteers and Health Workers, Positive Activities, Social Events, Workshops for Young People, Educational DVDs, Community Awareness Raising Events, and much more….

First Steps also goes into schools and other community areas to raise awareness about eating disorders, challenge the stigmas surrounding the illness and help people to come forward for help.


Our History

Catherine Cleary - Founder of First Steps

Catherine Cleary

First Steps Derbyshire was founded back in January 2004 By Cathy Cleary.

Learn more here.

It was run by a small group of volunteers whose lives had been affected by eating disorders who were unable to get help for their condition due to a lack of understanding and service provision.

For the first three years of its existence, First Steps held two support groups per month and raised awareness and understanding of eating disorders in the community. The groups provided members and their families with information, encouragement and a safe environment to gain an understanding of eating disorders and how they could begin to change their lives for the better.

With the help of our dedicated and passionate team of volunteers, First Steps have now grown and developed into a registered charity employing 12 people and recruiting 35 active volunteers. We hold a large number of self-help groups throughout Derbyshire (including Derby City, Swadlincote and Chesterfield) and a range of alternative support sessions including art therapy,  online be-friending support, social activities and 1 to 1 support for young people. Additionally, First Steps offer support to parents, carers and families via skills for carers workshops.

It is very hard for anyone to admit that they have an eating, exercise, or body image problem and asking for help and support is very difficult. This is usually down to fear, shame and denial, people with eating difficulties may find it very difficult to express how they are feeling.

How to help people with eating disorders

We understand that the “first steps” towards seeking help are filled with fear and anxiety. Finding and getting the right support is essential for lasting recovery. At First Steps there are a variety of options available, group support, one to one support, basic nutritional support, drama therapy, Hypnotherapy, yoga and relaxation, arts classes, befriending, online support/forums and Facebook groups.

Because we have firsthand experience of eating disorders – First Steps Derbyshire can:

Help you to feel less isolated and more understood,

Help you to understand why this condition has affected you

Help you to work on managing it and finally beating it

Understand how difficult it can be to speak to anyone about your eating difficulty or disorder.

Understand the shame, guilt and embarrassment associated with the condition and the great lengths taken to keep it hidden from family and friends.

Understand how food can be your best friend and worst enemy and how it takes control of your life to the point where you can think of nothing but food.

First Steps  is run by trained, professional and dedicated people who have the desire to raise awareness and understanding of eating difficulties and disorders.  We work towards influencing policies and procedures and campaign for the development of specialist services to help those whose lives are affected by these conditions.

First Steps wish you all the very best in working towards your new life, a life free from the control of food. No matter how bad it seems, never quit trying to beat Eating Disorders because one day you may and that feeling is truly worth the hard work and effort. Do not be afraid to take the first steps toward your recovery as you are not alone.

Catherine Cleary

September 2011


Meet the team – here