With over 69,000 signatures, mental health campaigner Hope Virgo takes the #DumpTheScales campaign to 10 Downing Street
Hope Virgo started the petition after seeking treatment for anorexia, only to be told by professionals that she “wasn’t thin enough” for treatment.
“I relapsed in 2016 and even with the severity of my anorexia in the past, I was not eligible for care because I wasn’t ‘thin’ enough,” explained Hope, speaking to Happiful in 2018. “Perhaps it would be okay if this was just my experience, but it isn’t. I get emails every few days from people who have been turned away from services because they aren’t in the weight criteria.”
Hope was left feeling suicidal and incredibly alone. Let down by medical professionals, she now has nearly 70,000 people supporting her campaign, #DumpTheScales.
#DumpTheScales calls for Body Mass Index (BMI) to be disregarded by clinicians when diagnosing eating disorders, and urges the Government to review eating disorder guidance.
She was joined at Downing Street by Wera Hobhouse MP, Liberal Democrat for Bath, TV presenter Sean Fletcher and Paralympic gold medalist Rachel Morris MBE.
“I can’t quite believe we have got this far with the #DumpTheScales campaign” said Hope. “Each day so many individuals face injustices when it comes to accessing treatment and diagnosis for an eating disorder. This is not right on so many levels and we need to work to change this. #DumpTheScales is doing just this!
“Tackling the injustices of people with eating disorders whilst changing entire public understanding so that everyone knows you don’t have to be stick thin to have an eating disorder. Having Wera Hobhouse’s ongoing support is just fantastic. But we need more cross party support and a real commitment to tackle this now.”
On the petition reaching 10 Downing Street, Wera Hobhouse said: “Working alongside Hope and meeting others who have suffered with eating disorders, I’ve learned just how widespread this family of conditions is. I am shocked by the number of people who are affected nationally and in my constituency in Bath. No one should have to suffer alone. I admire everyone who has had the courage to share their stories, to help raise awareness and increase understanding.
“The Liberal Democrats want to improve people’s lives by introducing standard waiting times for adults, and putting a penny on the pound on income tax to put straight in to the NHS. The huge number of people who have signed the petition is a testament to the need for urgent change.”
It is estimated that more than 700,000 people are affected by an eating disorder in the UK. While young women are more likely to develop eating problems, anyone can - regardless of age or gender. They are complex mental health conditions that affect people emotionally, physically and socially. While eating disorders are serious and can be fatal, they are treatable. With help, support and the right information, people can make a full recovery.
There are many ways to access support, and the earlier help is sought, the better the chance of recovery. For eating disorder support and information, visit Beat. Beat’s helpline services are available 365 days a year. Call the helpline on 0808 801 0677 or 0808 801 0711 for the Youthline.
If you are worried about your mental health, Counselling Directory can help. Search for therapists in your area by entering your location in the box below.