New £600k centre to tackle eating disorders in young people opens

Tania Pombeiro, Kirstie Weston, Emily Hensman and Libby Bennett, who will all be working at The Lighthouse Centre

Tania Pombeiro, Kirstie Weston, Emily Hensman and Libby Bennett, who will all be working at The Lighthouse Centre - Credit: NSFT

More than £600,000 has been spent to set up a new centre to treat young people battling eating disorders.

Based at Hellesdon Hospital, The Lighthouse Centre has been geared at providing intensive support to ease the physical and psychological impact the conditions have on children.

It will support young people aged between 11 and 18 and their families through a variety of approaches, caring for up to 10 young people at a time.

The new centre comes as the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) looks to address longstanding issues with offering timely support to young people with eating disorders.

While the Trust says it currently has no young people waiting for their first treatment, it has frequently missed targets in this area.

Recent figures have shown that seven out of 10 under-19s referred for routine support with eating disorders are not seen in the target four week period.

They also show that 40pc of urgent referrals are not seen within a week - with the Trust's target for both referral types set at 95pc.

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But it is hoped that the new centre will help the Trust close these gaps and get support to the young people that need it quicker.

Tania Pombeiro, who leads the service, said: "We are delighted to have opened our doors and look forward to working with our first service users closely over the coming weeks to make a positive difference to their lives.

"Our aim is not for young people to achieve full recovery in the weeks they are with us, but to overcome some of the obstacles they may be facing so they can continue their treatment in the community.

"We are there to help them restore balance, develop positive relationships and regain quality of life while making sure they stay connected with their family and friends.

"Young people will come to the unit for between four and 12 weeks, depending on their individual needs and treatment goals."

The service will see youngsters supported through a number of methods, including one-to-one nursing and family therapy.

The project cost more than £600,000, with £539,000 invested in staffing it and a further £86,00 spend on buildings.