Edinburgh University’s VPSA running Stirling Marathon for eating disorder charity Beat

Jess Husband, Vice President of Societies and Activities at Edinburgh University Students’ Association, will be running in the Stirling Marathon in aid of eating disorder charity Beat.

Husband will run the 26.2-mile course on Sunday, May 21 alongside notable athletes such as World Champion and silver-medal Olympian Liz McColgan.

Beat, the UK’s leading eating disorder charity, offers a range of support services for people suffering from a range of eating disorders including a helpline, message boards and peer support groups.

Husband aims to raise £600 to contribute to their work.

Speaking to The Student about the charity, Husband said: “Beat do loads of great work both in terms of raising awareness and giving concrete, real time support to sufferers and carers of sufferers. I’d advise anyone struggling with disordered eating to go investigate the support they offer.”

Husband has a deeply personal connection to the charity and the topic, having struggled with varying levels of disordered eating for multiple years.

“I’ve struggled with issues around food and body image, which I have spent years trying to unpick and make sense of, with little success,” she told The Student, “I’d love to say I’m out the woods now, but I’m going to say I’m about 80 per cent out the woods.

“The reality is that these things are a bit of a constant battle, and so the work of organisations like Beat is absolutely invaluable.

“I’ve been absolutely rubbish at feeling like I can open up about this, so I want to do anything I can to normalise the conversation and help others open up, as well as getting people who aren’t familiar with the issue to educate themselves.”

On their website, Beat estimates that upwards of 725,000 people in Britain suffer from some form of eating disorder.

In 2014, The Health and Care Information Centre released figures that showed a 34 per cent increase in hospital admissions due to eating disorders related causes from 2005.

Husband told The Student: “Mental Health services are so overstretched, and eating disorder services are no exception. Often illnesses have to have become life-threatening before support becomes available, and considering early prevention has been proven to be the most successful treatment, this is dangerous and counterproductive.

“Eating disorders are about so much more than food. They are complex mental illnesses that manifest through behaviours around food.  While I’m not going to try and unpick the very messy relationship between eating disorders, and diet culture or current beauty standards, as well as society’s attitude to food and appearance, that latter chunk of issues damn sure isn’t helping.”

Speaking on her preparation for the event, Husband told The Student: “I’ve already done quite a few half marathons, so this isn’t completely new territory. I’m training with various clubs and training groups around the city, and running is such an important part of my life that I’m ready and looking forward to the challenge!”

Donations to Beat in support of Jess can be made online via her Just Giving page.

Image: Jessica Husband

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