Freedom Team graphic

Our children and young people’s community eating disorders service, Freedom team, offers support to young people, under 18 years of age, and their families living in Bradford, Airedale, Wharfedale or Craven who are tackling an eating disorder.

The Freedom team is based in Keighley, is available Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm. Outside of these hours First Response (0800 952 1181 ) can give advice in any mental health crisis or, if there are urgent physical issues, the local accident and emergency service at Airedale General Hospital or Bradford Royal Infirmary may be contacted.

Eating disorders can cause serious long-term and even life threatening health problems. Talking about the condition and seeking help can often be difficult for young people suffering from the disorder. Eating disorders are mental health conditions that rarely get better on their own, so the sooner someone can get help, the more likely they are to make a full recovery.

If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, we want you to feel reassured that our experienced multidisciplinary team will work with you and your family to support recovery.

Within our team we have psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, family therapists, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) therapists, occupational therapists and dietitians.  Our team bring together different disciplines skilled in the assessment and treatment of eating disorders, ensuring you receive fast access to the right care. We aim to carry out urgent assessments within one week of referral and routine assessments within four weeks. We offer assessment, diagnosis and intervention on a range of suspected and confirmed eating disorders including:

  • anorexia nervosa
  • bulimia nervosa
  • binge eating disorder
  • atypical anorectic and bulimic eating disorder sometimes known as OSFED (other specified feeding or eating disorder)

We also work closely with our paediatric colleagues at Airedale General Hospital and Bradford Royal Infirmary to support your recovery.


Telephone: 01535 661531 

Who is this service for?

The service offers support for young people, under 18 years of age, struggling with or suspected of having an eating disorder, living in the Bradford, Airedale, Wharfedale or Craven districts.

How can you access this service?

You can ask to be referred by your GP or school nurse.  We are happy to discuss any concerns about your well-being with your family or other health care professionals.

It would be helpful to give us as much detail as possible about when you started to struggle with the eating disorder, the nature of the disorder and your weight and height in order to help us support you to get access to the right care.

You may display some, not necessarily all, of these behaviours: 

  • fear of weight gain
  • weight loss or unusual weight changes
  • in girls, periods becoming irregular or stopping
  • missing meals, eating very little and avoiding ‘fattening’ foods
  • avoiding eating in public, secret eating
  • believing you are fat when underweight
  • exercising excessively
  • becoming pre-occupied with food and calorie counting
  • cooking for other people but not eating yourself
  • going to the bathroom or toilet immediately after meals
  • using laxatives and vomiting to control weight

• tiredness, less energy or interest in other things
• mood changes
• stunting of growth and damage to bones and internal organs
• loss of periods and risk of infertility
• anxiety, depression, obsessive behaviour or perfectionism
• struggling to concentrate
• dizziness, abdominal pain, hair loss, feeling cold, lanugo hair (soft, downy hair that was not previously there)
• lack of confidence and withdrawal from friends

Useful links

Eating disorder poster for young people
Eating disorder poster for parents
Eating disorder leaflet


Mind ED – a free educational resource on children and young people’s mental health for all adults.
B-EAT – UK eating disorder charity
NICE | The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence

Books for parents

Eating Disorders: A Parents’ Guide: 2nd Edition, Routledge 2013, Bryant-Waugh R and Lask B

Skills Based Learning for Caring for a Loved One with an Eating Disorder. The New Maudsley Method, Routledge 2016, Janet Treasure, Grainne Smith, Anna Crane

Anorexia and other Eating Disorder: How to help your child eat well and be well: Practical solutions compassionate communication tools and emotional support for parents of children and teenagers. Aprica 2014. Eva Musby

Help Your Teenager Beat an Eating Disorder. Guidlford Press 2015. Lock J and Le Grange D

Books for young people

Can I tell you about Eating Disorders? A Guide for Friends, Family and Professionals. Jessica Kingsley 2014, Lask B Watson L



What is the multi-family therapy (MFT) programme?

The Multi-Family Therapy (MFT) programme has been successfully used, since 2000, with hundreds of children and young people across the country.

It’s an innovative way of working with anyone up to the age of 18, and their families, where anorexia nervosa has “taken hold of their lives”.  By participating in this intensive therapeutic group treatment programme alongside, four to six, other families with experiencing similar issues, you and your child can reach a significant turning point – where real recovery becomes achievable and hospital admission prevented.

The MFT group encourages everybody, parents included, to play critical roles in becoming instruments of change.  MFT can facilitate a new way of thinking about habits and behaviours leading to positive improvements.

How does the programme run?

We invite families first to attend an introductory meeting on a Monday evening with the team who will be running the programme and a “graduate” family who has completed the programme.

The following Friday all the families attend (often with siblings) for four days.  Here, we work closely together to guide every person through the structured programme, which includes eating together in a supported environment.  The whole group then takes part in six further MFT follow-up days/workshops over the next nine months.

We invite:

  • The young person with anorexia nervosa.
  • Parents – but also any other significant adult in the person’s life.  In the past we have included step-parents, grandparents, and partners and are open to any family set-up.  We will discuss with each family what would be the most useful family constellation.
  • Siblings – for however many sessions they are able to attend.

The MFT team:

  • Two lead therapists (Nicky and Ann).
  • Two additional supportive therapists.

Where does MFT take place?

A new MFT group starts approximately every six months at Hillbrook Child and Adolescent Service.

MFT combines group therapy, family therapy, psycho-education with creative and supportive activities and interventions.

There are exercises for the whole group, some just for the young people and their siblings on their own and some for parents as a separate group.  Each one gives different opportunities to share experiences and ideas to support one another.  Working together to beat anorexia works.

A typical workshop day

10.00 am  Family introductions and partake in a group task.
10.30 am  Morning snack – parents bring snacks and lunch  according to the meal plan.
11.00 am  Separate activities:
Parent group.
Young peoples group.
12.30 pm Lunch: families eating together and helping each other.
1.30 pm  Break.
Group feedback from morning and lunch.
2.00 pm  Individual activities:
Parent group.
Young people’s group.
Siblings group.
3.00 pm Afternoon snack.
3.30 pm Main group reflections.

MFT can help young people and their families:

  • Feel more confident and empowered.
  • Gain a better understanding of the illness and put together a ‘toolkit’ of skills and techniques to beat it.
  • Build up existing family relationships and develop new ones with other families in MFT.
  • Take charge of anorexia and “boss it back” – with renewed strength!

We are confident that committed participation in the MFT programme offers young people and their families a real hope of overcoming anorexia, even where other, more traditional treatments have failed.

“The whole course worked well due to competent, professional, experienced and empathic facilitators.  They provided thought provoking, challenging and informative sessions to help each family, including ours, find new strategies and learn more about how to effectively manage our child struggling with an eating disorder.”
*Mark, aged 46, a father

“Being able to admit to frustration and fear within a safe setting has been really helpful.”
*Sarah, aged 33, a mother

“I would encourage any family affected by an eating disorder to attend the course.  No matter where your child is on their journey, even if they’re unable to make any changes at present, as a parent you will hopefully learn new skills and gain strength from other families through the sessions to move your child closer to recovery.”
*Alison aged 41, a mother

“Go for it! It really benefits you and you get all the support you need!”
*Katie, aged 14, anorexia nervosa patient

“It’s helped a lot and it’s helped my parents who have never really spoken to anyone about it all before.”
*Charlotte aged 15, anorexia nervosa patient

*Names have been changed to protect identity.

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