ended founder mark forbes

Who is Ed?

Image source: Photographer Megan Gill Portrait

Matt Golinski meets a local couple who are on a mission to save the lives of many families affected by eating disorders.

ED looks in the mirror every morning, and is never happy with their reflection, no matter how many times their best friends tell them they look great.

ED can’t hear their mum sobbing in her bedroom, or their dad on the phone to the hospital pleading with them to help, because the voice telling them they must get thinner is louder than their parents’ desperate cries.

ED reaches a point in their illness that their lack of nutrition has damaged their heart, brain, kidneys and other organs to such a degree that they reach a crossroads of either receiving the quality support and care they need in  an appropriate environment, or the mental and physical battle they live
with ultimately claims their life.

Sadly for many people suffering with eating disorders (ED), that help is hard to find, sometimes non-existent, and heartbroken family and friends can only watch on helplessly as their loved one fades away.

One Sunshine Coast couple who know ED all too well are Mark and Gay Forbes. 

Over the course of 24 years, they tried every available support service to help their two daughters who live with eating disorders. In 2015, after opening up their home to other families for fortnightly meetings to facilitate a local support network, they decided that rather than wait any longer for a government body or the health system to come up with a solution, they’d come up with one themselves, and endED was born.

From experience, they knew that a priority for those battling eating disorders and their families was to have a safe, peaceful environment to go to for treatment and recovery; a home-like facility with access to not just specialist clinical care, but the counselling of others with lived experience who they could relate to.

When they found the perfect 25-acre property in the Mooloolah Valley, they put their own home up for sale to finance its purchase. Thanks to the help of more than 30 local businesses; some very generous people they met along their journey, including Roy and Nola Thomson and B.A.Murphy; and with  funding from local and federal governments, their dream of building a stand-alone residential facility became a reality. ‘Wandi Nerida’ is a sanctuary that will ultimately save many lives, and will hopefully be a model for many more of its kind to come.

In December 2020, endED launched the endED House of Hope, a property in Woombye where three support groups are held each week. The House of Hope will also become a transitional house for those exiting the residential facility. 

They are in the process of building a peaceful place on the property for connection back to nature.

endED recently opened the endED Espresso Bar at Buddina where Community, Connection and Compassion strongly underlie the endED ethos.

The profits from the espresso bar go directly back to the charity to support the employment of their recovery coaches and the space provides valuable work experience for those who have been supported by endED and are now ready to venture back into the workforce.

The volunteer staff are also parents and carers that endED has supported through their own journey.

endED lived-experience eating disorder recovery coaches like Millie Thomas, Laura  Chamberlain and Cass Kowitz currently play a vital role in the lives of many eating disorder sufferers across the coast by ensuring that all their clients are engaged with a multidisciplinary team consisting of at least a GP, dietician and a psychologist. They also provide invaluable support to eating disorder sufferers who are in the hospital system.

At present there is no specialised psychological support provided by the hospital for these patients. The endED coaches visit the hospital providing support, guidance and most importantly, social connection. They are also often asked by hospital staff for a lived experience insight and guidance into how to most effectively connect with and support the ED patients in their care.

In an effort to educate the general public and dispel the many myths and stigma that unfortunately still surrounds eating disorders, endED has recently launched the End Eating Disorders podcast, which aims to do just that. Millie interviews a diverse collection of guests from men who have battled binge eating to professors studying the genetics of eating disorders. This valuable resource transcends borders and oceans and now shares these stories to 94 countries worldwide.

The commitment and genuine empathy of everyone involved in this organisation comes from a place of understanding and a desire to do what they can to stop others suffering in the same way they have at some point in their lives.

And with the highest mortality rate of any mental illness and an annual death rate that far exceeds the National road toll, endED’s many facets lend help and hope to countless families who ED has come to live with.

endED Espresso Bar, 5 Bermagui Crescent, Buddina
Mon-Fri, 7am-2pm; Sat, 8am-1pm.
www.ended.org.au

About the Author /

[email protected]

Matt Golinski is a highly regarded chef with a passion for simple, produce-driven cuisine based on seasonal, fresh local ingredients. He is an active member of the Slow Food movement, a champion of artisan producers and a generous mentor to keen young chefs. He is the Food and Culinary Tourism Ambassador for the Gympie region; Ambassador and Advisory Executive Chef for Peppers Noosa; and a festival favourite.

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