Emmerdale star Gemma Oaten's battle to save Hull eating disorder charity after funding cut

Former Emmerdale star Gemma Oaten has made a desperate fundraising plea for tens of thousands of pounds to save her family's eating disorder charity after it lost a healthcare contract.

SEED (Support and Empathy for people with Eating Disorders) was started by Hull-born Gemma's mother, Marg, following the actress's own battle with anorexia.

It has been supporting people with eating disorders for more than a decade.

But next month the charity will lose a £25,000 contract with community interest company the City Healthcare Partnership.

Gemma says it leaves many vulnerable people at risk.

She said: "For me the early intervention that we provide at SEED is life-saving because as we know at the moment the waiting lists and referrals to mental health services are through the roof.

"How in 2022 when they are needed even more is this still happening?"

Since the pandemic started, referrals to the charity have increased by nearly 70%, including from children as young as 10.

Among those it has helped is Jess Hempshall, who says she owes her life to the support she received.

She said: "In all honesty, I really don't think I'd be here because I met Gemma at a time when I was in a really, really bad place. I was going through the fourth relapse in three-and-a-half years and the support has been amazing and I can't thank them all enough.

"It's really changed my life and saved my life as well."

Jess Hempshall and Gemma Oaten

Gemma has now set up a fundraising campaign online, in the hope of securing the charity's future.

CHCP said in a statement: "We continue to have several thriving and effective contracts with voluntary organisations and charities to deliver our community services and we intend to continue to do so moving forward."

What is SEED and what does it do?

SEED is a registered charity run by volunteers which was started in September 2000 in Hull, East Yorkshire as an Eating Disorder Support Group.

It became known as SEED Eating Disorder Support Services (Support and Empathy for people with Eating Disorders in January 2008).

Gemma Oaten (former Emmerdale Actress) is the Manager and Patron of the Charity.

It is a voluntary organisation, run by a group of ordinary people with firsthand experience of eating disorders, who make a difference to those people whose lives are blighted by the illness.

For more information on the help and support offered by the charity SEED click here

Eating disorders – the signs

According to the NHS an eating disorder is a mental health condition where you use the control of food to cope with feelings and other situations.

Unhealthy eating behaviours may include eating too much or too little or worrying about your weight or body shape.

Eating disorders mainly affect teenagers between 13 and 17 but anyone can suffer from them.

The most common eating disorders are:

  • anorexia nervosa - controlling your weight by restricting the amount of food consumed, exercising too much, or doing both

  • bulimia - losing control over how much you eat and then taking drastic action to not put on weight

  • binge eating disorder - eating large portions of food until you feel uncomfortably full