BNSSG Healthier Together

Transforming community eating disorders services in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire


Dr Sanni Norweg | Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Adult Community Eating Disorder Service (STEPS)

Anyone, regardless of their age or background, can develop an eating disorder. Getting help early is one of the most effective ways to support recovery.

Over recent years, we have been investing in early interventions to improve the lives of people living with eating disorders. This is part of wider changes to community mental health services in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) which will ensure more people have access to high-quality and personalised care, closer to home.


We have established the First Episode and Rapid Early Interventions for Eating Disorders (FREED) pathway to support people aged 18 – 25 who are within the first three years of developing an eating disorder. The services on offer range from psychoeducational and psychotherapy sessions, to advice from dieticians and occupational therapists. Parents, carers and friends can play an active role in recovery, which is why we involve them in our interventions, if a person decides this is best for them. Once the FREED team receives a referral, an individual can expect to have first contact with a clinician within 48 hours.

We are already seeing positive change. Since being established, around 100 people have been assisted through the new early intervention treatment packages. Overall the community team has been able to reduce the amount of people waiting for psychological therapy by 75% since 2022. Nearly everyone referred has been seen for an assessment within 4 weeks, with no wait for those with urgent needs.

FREED has really saved my life. Early intervention is crucial and without this I probably would not be where I am now – I am sustaining a job, have moved out to a new home, and able to love myself. I still have eating issues and anxieties but I have come so far in my wellbeing and quality of life. Thank you, I am forever grateful.”

– A person who has used the service

Co-producing services

We believe that people should have a say in the care they receive. While developing the community mental health transformation programme, we have consulted with over 1000 people who use or provide mental health services in BNSSG.

The voices of people with lived experience are important to us, which is why our eating disorders steering group is co-chaired by someone with lived experience, and we work in partnership with a wide range of people for their own unique perspectives to shape and improve care.

Reaching more people

We are pleased to be working with our new voluntary sector partner SWEDA to further strengthen eating disorders services in BNSSG. SWEDA provide assistance to anyone who is in the early stages or is showing some of the symptoms of an eating disorder. Across BNSSG they offer guidance, counselling and therapeutic interventions for individuals, and advice for parents or carers.

By working together, we are reducing the need for people to repeat their stories and we are making access easier.

Through SWEDA, we are now able to offer help to people who may not have been able to access it in the past. This includes people with suspected binge eating disorder.

“I can’t emphasise enough what a massive part SWEDA have played in my journey to find myself again. Over the past two years I have really started to understand myself and I have addressed issues that I hid away in the past with my counsellor’s amazing listening, non-judgmental and supportive skills. I have been able to take back control of myself and rationally look at my emotions in day-to-day life.”

A person who has used SWEDA’s services

It is great to be able to play an active role in improving community mental health services in BNSSG. Alongside colleagues in primary, secondary and social care, we look forward to achieving even more for our communities in years to come.