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First Steps offers online befriending for anyone who might benefit from one to one support over email. Befriending provides support by creating a means of communication to discuss the sufferer’s difficulties in times of need. It allows service users to talk things through with someone who understands, someone who has often been affected themselves by an eating disorder. It gives a space to work on recovery, offload and express how someone might be thinking or feeling.
We also understand the difficulties a family member or friend goes through when a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder, so befriending is open to carers too.
The befriender is a trained volunteer or member of staff who will be matched up to the sufferer, according to their similar interests and/or experiences. As well as talking about the sufferer’s eating disorder, they can also discuss their hobbies and interests. The befriender will contact the sufferer on a regular basis, typically twice a week. You are able to email your befriender any time with as much or little detail as you like, however, we do ask that you make regular contact and reply to each email.
Befriending does not offer a “miracle cure”. However, it does give you regular support alongside other support you may be accessing. Your befriender will also be able to signpost you to other services and help available. It is important that you access the support available from your GP and other health professionals alongside this.
Befriending has helped me to offload when things are tough. My befriender gives really positive feedback and her email coming in twice a week is a boost when I’m struggling. I’m able to reflect more on how my daughter’s illness is affecting me and acknowledge I can’t fix it all by myself.
– Parent of a service user
For me, befriending is like a journal, a journal that writes back! As a very private person, the anonymousity of this service allows me to let someone in to my thoughts, my worries, my victories… Nothing is too small. Over the last year, through befriending I have learnt how letting someone in, can and does work to break down and recognise barriers to recovery. It really does provide invaluable support and makes you feel like someone is on your side when your ED is consuming your thoughts, your actions and ultimately yourself. Knowing you can expect regular responses provides a sense of safety during the most difficult of times, sharing, reflecting, venting, anything goes. I suppose it is time to think about you, and not just your ED, the emails constantly strive to remind you that you are a person, you are more than the issues and most importantly that someone cares.
I have been receiving befriending since the start of November, and it has really benefitted me. It helps you to process your thoughts, and honestly discussing what is happening within the week relieves the weight of keeping it in your head. Knowing that there is one person you can rely on really helps to maintain a peace of mind. My befriender helps me to discuss my thoughts and rationalise them. I feel I have improved tremendously since November, and found that by using the befriending service I have become more open, and feel a lot less isolated. At first I was a little apprehensive about whether I could trust someone enough to talk with them honestly, but it was actually incredibly easy. I already feel as though I can trust my befriender with anything, and although the conversation is via email it still feels as though you have formed a friendship.
– Lizzie Meakin
Befriending helps me diffuse my anxiety and rationalise my thoughts and emotions by typing/speaking them outloud and having someone in return, help and listen and also voice their opinion in a constructive way.
– Charlotte Barnes
If you are interested in our online befriending support service, please contact the team via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (01332 367571).
Please note: In order to access online support, you must come in to First Steps for an initial one to one with a member of our team. To arrange an initial one to one, please contact First Steps and we will arrange for a time that suits you.