Northern Ireland news

Festive season ‘incredibly difficult' for carers, says charity

The eating disorder charity, Beat, says it provided six times more support to people in NI last festive season than the same time period before the pandemic
Suzanne McGonagle

THE festive season is "incredibly difficult" for people who are caring for a loved one with an eating disorder, according to a charity.

New figures from the eating disorder charity, Beat, reveal it provided six times more support to people in Northern Ireland last festive season than the same time period before the pandemic.

It was almost double the amount of support than the same time period in 2020.

This included supporting those with eating disorders as well as those caring for a loved one with the illness. Beat expects that demand for eating disorder support will continue to grow this Christmas.

To help ensure that carers feel supported at this time of year, the charity has opened spaces for its 'Coping with Celebrations' training course, which helps carers, parents, families and partners to guide their loved one towards recovery.

Nicola Armstrong from Beat said: "Christmas and other celebrations can be an incredibly difficult time for those with eating disorders.

"They often focus on eating increased amounts of food, spending time with extended family who may not know about a person's eating disorder, and a lack of routine. This can cause feelings of isolation and distress both for the person who is unwell and their loved ones.

"We often hear from carers who find supporting a loved one overwhelming, especially if they do not have any support for their own mental health.

"Our Coping with Celebrations programme is a safe and non-judgemental space for carers to share their worries and develop skills to support themselves as well as their loved one."

Orla Black from the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, which funds Beat's Coping with Celebrations course, said: "Carers provide such an important role in society, but it often goes unnoticed that this role remains invaluable.

"Carers range from children and young people, to those caring for parents of every age, partners and sometimes friends. All of these carers have different needs and often have to balance their caring duties with education or work.

"The Community Foundation are proud to be working with the Department of Health to administer the Carers Support Fund, which has awarded £2.49 million to groups including Beat to offer support and respite to these carers who contribute such a huge amount to society.

"The festive season can be stressful enough for many, but with the added responsibilities and stresses that accompany those in caring roles, these difficulties are multiplied."

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Northern Ireland news