Funding fears for Norfolk charity

Fears have been raised over the future of a Norfolk charity which helps hundreds of people a year as its funding is set to be axed.

NHS Norfolk is set to cut Norfolk Eating Disorder Association's (EDA) funding next month in a bid to streamline services for patients with eating disorders.

The health trust instead will pump money only into the Norwich-based national eating disorders charity Beat as part of a new Norfolk Community Eating Disorders Service.

As a result, Norfolk EDA, which provides a face-to-face service and sees more than 300 people a year, will have to look at other funding avenues and is expecting to reduce staff numbers from five to three. It is likely to have to reduce the number of people that it helps.

Ray Philpot, treasurer of Norfolk EDA, which has been running for more than 30 years, said: 'Without the funding, it means that we will have to retrench dramatically. Unless there's funding forthcoming from other directions, we will have to reduce the number of staff if we are to continue to provide the services which we do.'

Norfolk EDA, which traditionally received about �60,000 in funding, offers specialist assessment, advice and a variety of psychological treatments for people with eating disorders who live within the NHS Norfolk catchment area.

The charity, which currently has five part-time staff, offers one-to-one consultations and an open house service to anybody who suffers from an eating disorder, their carers and their families.

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Beat, meanwhile, provides a help finder directory of services around the UK for people affected by an eating disorder, a confidential telephone helpline service and online help and support.

Clive Rennie, assistant director of mental health at NHS Norfolk, said: 'Far from reducing funding for helping people with eating disorders we have significantly improved the service in recent months.

'As well as rapid access to clinical assessment and intervention where required, the new Norfolk Community Eating Disorders Service includes counselling and support for patients and carers. This is provided by Beat, the leading UK charity for people with eating disorders and their families, which is based in Norwich. We are proud that our new CEDS offers support and counselling. As a result of the significant investment in the new Norfolk CEDS, NHS Norfolk has advised the Norfolk Eating Disorders Association that its historic funding is likely to cease in March.'

For more information about Norfolk EDA, go to www.norfolkeda.org.uk or for the charity's helpline call 01603 767062.

Is your organisation facing a funding shortfall? Call reporter Kate Scotter on 01603 772326 or email kate.scotter@ archant.co.uk