Falkirk parents prompted new eating disorders support group

Linda Tremble was a much-loved daughter and sister who sadly died in April 2011.

By Julie Currie
Tuesday, 31st March 2020, 6:52 pm
Training day...Andrew Macmillan and Wendy Diack (first and second left) on a recent training day with volunteer facilitators for the Linda Tremble Foundation.
Training day...Andrew Macmillan and Wendy Diack (first and second left) on a recent training day with volunteer facilitators for the Linda Tremble Foundation.

For years, her family had supported her as she lived with, and tried to overcome, anorexia nervosa.

After her untimely death, her parents Anne and Colin and sister Carol, from Glenrothes, decided to use their knowledge of eating disorders to help other Fife families who were facing the same challenges.

In 2014, the Linda Tremble Foundation was founded and in November 2015 the first support group began in Kirkcaldy.

It usually meets on the first Tuesday of every month in St Bryce Kirk from 7pm to 8.30pm.

But the small charity also founded further support groups in Perth and Glasgow, powered by the Tremble family and a dedicated team of volunteers who facilitate support group meetings.

Now, thanks to sterling work by the five-strong Board of Trustees, Anne, Colin and Carol have been able to hand over the Foundation’s reins to its first ever employee, development manager Wendy Diack.

That’s largely thanks to funding from The Robertson Trust, which helped to pay for Wendy’s appointment.

The charity also recently received £8000 from Comic Relief and £10,000 from the National Lottery Awards for All fund which will enable it to expand its services to other areas in Scotland.

Anne said: “We are very grateful for the support we’ve received which will help us expand the range of services we provide.

“Our charity currently provides local support in Fife, Glasgow and Perth and this will allow us to expand our services to Edinburgh and Forth Valley.

“On behalf of the charity and all the people we support, we cannot thank our funders enough.”

The new support group in Forth Valley, where Wendy worked for 20 years as a service delivery manager for Victim Support, launched in January.

It usually meets on the last Monday of every month in Allan Park South Church in Dumbarton Road, Stirling, from 7pm to 8.30pm, although the meeting on March 30 was cancelled due to coronavirus.

Wendy, who is the Forth Valley group’s facilitator, explained there was already a need in the area.

She said: “The group came about because some parents from Falkirk had already started their own meetings.

“The venue was not ideal though, and, because we’re trying to support families and people living with eating disorders across Forth Valley, we wanted a venue that was accessible to all.

“We launched the group two months ago, initially solely for people caring for someone who is living with an eating disorder.

“However, we’re hoping to appoint another facilitator to work with those living with an eating disorder too.”

Meetings are usually split into two; with one facilitator working with the family and carers and another working with those living with anorexia nervosa or bulimia.

This is to ensure that all parties can speak honestly and frankly during their time with the group.

Wendy admits, however, that a group setting is not always ideal for people living with an eating disorder.

She explained: “Our groups are very informal and people don’t even have to speak if they don’t want to.

“It gives people a chance to discuss their issues and concerns with others who are in the same position.

“But not everyone feels comfortable joining a group, so I’m also happy to meet people for a coffee.”

The Foundation works with people aged 18 and over.

In the short-term, it hopes to expand into West Lothian and Edinburgh.

Explaining why, Trustee Andrew Macmillan said: “Sadly, the need for our services has only grown since the Foundation was founded in 2014.

“It’s incredible that there are no support groups in our capital city so we’re hoping to set up meetings there first.

“We’re also looking at areas, such as West Lothian.

“We know there is a need for support groups across Scotland but we also need to ensure we have volunteers to support those groups.”

The Foundation currently has 22 dedicated volunteers but is keen to recruit more.

Andrew added: “We ran a five-week training course in Kirkcaldy recently for families and carers.

“The feedback was excellent and they’ve since set up their own Facebook group.

“We’d like to offer similar courses in other areas too.

“However, we are a small charity and rely on volunteers. So we can only expand if we recruit more.”

Visit www.lindatremblefoundation.org.uk or call 01592 321229 to find out more.

During the coronavirus lockdown, the Foundation will post regular updaes on its website.

However, if anyone requires support in the meantime please call 07716 639067 or email [email protected]

Vanity does not drive disorders

Far too often, people wrongly believe that eating disorders are a lifestyle choice, brought about by vanity.

Eating disorders are, in fact, potentially life-threatening mental health disorders.

And anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric disorders.

A person with an eating disorder experiences severe disturbances in their eating and exercise behaviour.

Most people with an eating disorder go to great lengths to hide or deny their behaviour and many don’t recognise that there is anything wrong.

On average it takes seven years to recover from an eating disorder with many people only seeking help years after it first takes hold.

You may well think that you can tell by looking at someone that they have an eating disorder. However, the majority of people with an eating disorder, some 80 per cent, are not actually underweight.

The peak period for the onset of eating disorders is from the ages of 12 to 25, with women being a particularly high risk group, However, recent studies suggest that a quarter of people with eating disorders are, in fact, male.

Anorexia nervosa, a persistent restriction of energy intake leading to significantly low body weight, and bulimia nervosa, bingeing on and then purging food, are the most well-known eating disorders but there are several others.

Many stars have recently spoken out about their own issues, including former Dr Who Christopher Eccleston (lifelong anorexic) and Zayn Malik who used food intake as a form of control during his One Direction days. Sharing their stories has helped charities like the Linda Tremble Foundation prove that eating disorders can happen to anyone, at any time.