Beat, the UK’s leading eating disorder charity, has so far raised £4,218 by carrying out a 26-hour online peer support group in response to the London Marathon’s 2.6 challenge, which urged charities to find alternative ways to raise vital funds.
The online group-athon, which started at 12 am on Sunday 26th April and ended at 2 am today, was carried out by 13 helpline staff from the charity and nine ambassadors.
After completing the challenge, the charity tweeted: “Wow, what an incredible effort from our Helpline team and ambassadors who gave up their time to run an online support group for a massive 26 hours. Your fundraising is needed now more than ever to keep our helpline running. Thank you.”
The team of volunteers and staff split the 26 hours between them, providing essential support for people affected by eating disorders who are struggling more than ever during the coronavirus lockdown.
One volunteer, Lizzie Speller, said: “Had such a fab time with the @beatED 26 hour support group marathon! Feel so lucky to be part of such a wonderful team for this event.”
Caroline Price, Beat’s Director of Services, has explained that the charity is hopeful that the challenge will encourage people to sponsor Beat so that they can continue to keep their crucial services running, as well as to raise awareness of their services during this difficult time.
Beat has revealed that they have experienced a 35% increase in demand for their helpline since the coronavirus pandemic arose, with the charity warning that the isolation voice that tells people they are alone is louder and stronger than ever during this time.
“If I have to self-isolate I’m so scared of how badly I could damage myself. Knowing I can access Beat’s helpline is the only thing keeping me going.”
The charity encouraged those struggling to get in touch during the challenge, tweeting: “Being in isolation, with your own thoughts constantly, can really amplify a mental illness. If you are struggling at the minute, join ambassador Rihannon online now in our 26-hour support group, The Sanctuary.”
According to studies carried out by King’s College in London on the psychological impacts of quarantine, people with eating disorders have a risk of relapsing or worsening the severity of their disorder, due to infection fears and the effect of the quarantine, as well as due to a shortage of adequate psychological and psychiatric treatments during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Mental health campaigner, Hope Virgo, spoke to Young Minds, the UK’s leading charity fighting for children and young people’s mental health, saying: “Imagine walking into a shop, looking around at the empty shelves and seeing nothing there. . . the eating disorder is cheering you on: ‘Phew! A good excuse not to have anything’.”
She added: “People with eating disorders are currently dealing with an added complication to the coronavirus (COVID-19) that so many haven’t even though of. With many people stockpiling, yes it is affecting the elderly or vulnerable people, but it is also affecting people with serious mental illnesses as they face this uncertainty about whether they can access their safe foods and stay well.”
To donate to Beat, visit their JustGiving page or their website.