Volunteers are often described as the glue that holds a community together and nothing could be truer of Eating Disorders Families Australia (EDFA). 

Our organisation was founded by volunteers, grown by volunteers, and continues to function so well today because of our volunteers. 

As National Volunteer Week approaches, EDFA is proud to recognise the heart and soul of our organisation – the many people who give up their time and resources to help us to support eating disorder carers.

Whether its Olivia, who lives in New York and is up at 2am to facilitate our Siblings Support Group; Leah who has helped to raise $14,000 to fund a special, soon-to-be-revealed project; Lynn who gives of herself every day to manage our education program; or our many passionate members who provide peer support, facilitate, moderate, fundraise, write, organise – it is fair to say EDFA could not deliver its services without you. 

“EDFA’s volunteers are very special people,” EDFA Executive Director Jane Rowan says. “They are the compassionate hands that hold our families together, the beacons of hope in times of darkness, and the unwavering support that strengthens us all.”

This year’s National Volunteer Week theme of ‘The Change Makers’ certainly describes the multitude of volunteers that EDFA is so proud to call its own. Without volunteers, groups such as EDFA would find it difficult to be the ‘change makers’ of our community.

Eating disorder volunteers

Eating disorders are complex mental illnesses and their carers and families play a vital role. But caring can be challenging and exhausting, and many feel overwhelmed, stressed, and isolated. Eating disorder volunteers are often those with a lived experience, although this is not essential, who help carers navigate this difficult disease; provide ‘an ear’ without judgement; and empathy. 

“When you love someone with an eating disorder, you need to learn a lot and you need to learn it really fast,” says Leah, who has volunteered with EDFA for two years. “It was really hard, so now I want to give back to EDFA.” 

For many people, volunteering with EDFA gives them the chance to say thank you and give back to the community that helped them.

“I volunteer to give back to the incredible organisation that supported me during my darkest moments … and during recovery,” EDFA volunteer Karina says. “EDFA gave me so much hope and support and encouragement when I’ve felt alone and overwhelmed.” 

Volunteering inspires joy and brings strength

Volunteering with an organisation such as EDFA can be an empowering way for carers to support others who are going through similar experiences. One thing that most eating disorder carers collectively feel is powerlessness and volunteering (when able) can help restore that personal sense of strength. It can also be a way to gain new skills and knowledge, forge friendships, and make a real difference in the lives of others.

“I want to provide others with the feeling that they are not alone, the hope that things will get better, and that recovery is possible,” EDFA volunteer Kate says.

Volunteering is not just about giving back. It’s also an opportunity to connect with others and build community. Volunteering can help people develop new friendships and social connections; give a sense of belonging and purpose. And create a more caring, connected, and inclusive society. 

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteering has taken on even greater importance. Many people feel isolated and disconnected and volunteering can provide a sense of connection and purpose. 

“I absolutely love volunteering at EDFA. The people I volunteer with are so incredibly caring, nurturing and empathetic and we’ve really created our own little family of volunteers,” says Olivia.  

During the week of May 15–21, let’s celebrate the change makers of our society – the tireless, big-hearted, passionate volunteers of EDFA, who are our heroes.

Volunteering with EDFA 

EDFA currently has a wonderful team of more than 50 volunteers, who support our national organisation in many ways, including as support group facilitators and moderators, content writers, grant writers and managers, and as fundraisers. 

Click here for more information on how to volunteer for EDFA.