By Daryl Madill, Chair, F.E.A.S.T. Board of Directors
The melodic chime coming from my laptop indicates that someone is requesting a Live Chat on F.E.A.S.T.’s website. I open up the window on my computer, accept the chat, and connect with a parent requesting information and support. It’s one of several requests that will come in during my day monitoring the parent support lines.
As the lead for a team of ten parent volunteers, I am taking my turn to monitor the Live Chat, email and voicemail that is available to families and carers around the globe. Our team spans several countries, with volunteers from the U.K, Canada, Israel, and the U.S. Each member volunteers a few days a month to steer parents and carers towards information and resources to help their family member with an eating disorder.
We are not therapists or counselors, but rather experts by experience, who are intimately acquainted with the needs of those seeking support for their family member affected by an eating disorder. Our role is to act as guides to the F.E.A.S.T. website and moderated online peer support forums, providing links to those forums and other relevant resources. We’re like a reception desk, handing out the latest evidence-based information and resources to those in need. We’re able to reassure those who stop by that they are not alone. And perhaps, most importantly, we are able to offer hope that recovery is possible, at any age and stage of illness.
Most times, it’s not a long exchange with someone requesting information; they are anxious to get on with what they need to do in order to help their loved one. Sometimes people send a ‘thank you’ email, but that’s not the norm, and it’s not expected. Our team is committed to helping those in need, just as they were once helped by others. It’s a good feeling to know that we’ve been of assistance to someone else on their family’s eating disorder journey. We’re here because we’ve been there, and we’ll continue to shine a light for those parents seeking support.