A four-time Olympian and a generous tech business have helped a not for profit organisation launch its niche eating disorders podcast.
Wednesday’s Child, a not-for-profit founded in Suffolk last year, has secured a listing in the likes of Spotify and iTunes, for its insightful conversation about the mental health illness which affects around 1.5 million people across the UK.
Throughout the early stages of the pandemic, the organisation saw its services in greater demand, both directly from sufferers, and from parents, teachers and healthcare professionals.
To meet the need, and in a bid to challenge the myths and stigma which exist around the devastating disease, Wednesday’s Child sought the help of a digital business, able to help in the production of a frequent podcast.
Andrew Laws, founder of a Suffolk-based digital consultancy, offered his time voluntarily, as part of his commitment to the Community Action Suffolk initiative ‘ProHelp’, which matches advisors to particular projects and needs.
Just three weeks after the podcast’s launch, the concept caught the attention of former Ipswich swimmer, Karen Pickering MBE. A four-time Olympian and one of the most decorated swimmers of all time, Karen immediately put herself forward as a guest for the show – bringing her very specific insight on sport, body image and mental health.
Debbie Watson, founder of Wednesday’s Child, and a former sufferer of the illness for some 20 years, says the reaction to the first episodes has been incredible, and led to more individuals feeling able to come forward and see their struggle as ‘legitimate’.
“Establishing a podcast during the pandemic felt like it was hugely important for an audience of hundreds of thousands of people who found themselves with even less ‘voice’ around their illness,” she said.
“Many had suddenly found themselves isolated, without ongoing counselling or community treatment, or living with family or partners who ‘just didn’t understand’ what a battle they were contending with.
“A podcast gave us the opportunity to discuss all the kinds of topics and dilemmas which would have sufferers thinking ‘so it’s not just me then…’, or even better, that ‘it is possible to recover from this.”
Debbie said the generosity of both Andrew and Karen has made the early success of the initiative possible, at a time when the idea was most needed.
“I am permanently indebted to Andrew and to Karen, for recognising what Wednesday’s Child was wanting to achieve, and for helping us get the early traction,” she commented.
“Andrew’s kind offer to set the show up at no charge was beyond anything I could have hoped for.
“Meanwhile, for Karen to throw her support behind the concept and give her time to an episode, has allowed us to gain quick following and is leading to other profile guests wanting to also take a slot on the show and discuss body image and eating disorders, alongside themes around mental health.”
Andrew Laws, who has been specialising in digital marketing for more than 10 years, said: “I specifically offered my services via the Community Action Suffolk ProHelp scheme because I wanted to provide support to ambitious organisations who make a difference to others.
“Wednesday’s Child certainly fits that bill, and we’ve been happy to help.”
Karen Pickering, who is now working with Wednesday’s Child on other initiatives to support sufferers, said: “As a mother and as a retired athlete, I’m enormously conscious of the issues around body image, diet and exercise dialogue, mental health and enduring illnesses.
“I’ve seen a lot of people in sport affected by eating disorders, so I was very pleased to be able to contribute to Wednesday’s Child’s podcast and share my experiences.
“I hope it will continue to give voice to some really important themes.”
Wednesday’s Child provides 1-2-1 support for eating disorders, as well as group therapy and befriending. The organisation also delivers education and training for schools, healthcare professionals and families.
Its website features wellbeing boxes which can be sent to sufferers of mental health illness. All profits go to supporting those who are battling with an eating disorder.
To listen to the podcast, look for EATING DISORDERS IN DISCUSSION via your preferred podcast platform, including Spotify and iTunes.