A TEENAGER is taking on a half marathon to raise money for a charity which helped support her with an eating disorder.
Olivia Ponsford, from Portsmouth, will be lacing up her running shoes to complete the Royal Parks Half Marathon to fundraise and raise awareness for Beat.
The eating disorder charity helped the 19-year-old when she had bulimia nervosa and supported her with helplines, message boards and online support groups.
Olivia said: ‘Beat is a charity which has always been there for support and guidance through every step of my eating disorder.
‘They have been fantastic in educating me, offering support on the phone when I needed it and showing me that other people go through the same thing.
‘It’s always nice to know if I ever need to speak to someone about my disorder, they make sure I’m not alone through it. This is something Beat highlights really well through their message boards, phone line and literature.’
Olivia had to wait six months before she could start therapy after her GP misdiagnosed her eating disorder.
She was not referred for treatment until she went to A&E in May. There was an even longer delay with problems over paperwork and her details being lost.
But since she started getting help from Beat, Olivia is recovering and is using the Royal Parks Half Marathon, taking place this Sunday in Hyde Park, London, as a way to help her focus.
She added: ‘Fundraising for me is a way to focus my energy into something positive. When I signed up for the Royal Parks Half Marathon I was at a place where I didn’t really understand what direction I was heading in because I was waiting for therapy.
‘This half marathon has given me something to aim for and also a way to give back to Beat, because I owe a lot to them for their on-going support.
‘The progress I have made is purely from seeing a therapist privately and the support of my family, friends and Beat.’
Olivia is also organising cake sales and supermarket collections to help fund Beat’s services.
Beat’s community fundraising officer, Andrea Auburn, said: ‘Olivia has worked hard to fundraise for Beat’s helpline services, which helped her and her family during her recovery.
‘Her support will help more people than ever to access free help and information.’
To donate to Olivia visit justgiving.com/fundraising/olivia-ponsford.