Charities, by their very nature, all have a story behind their inception. Caraline is no different, and the inspiration for our charity came from an exceptional person called Caraline Neville-Lister. She lived in Brighton, Sussex, and died in 1994, aged 29, from anorexia nervosa.
After watching a documentary about Caraline, and her battle with anorexia and bulimia nervosa, our founder Claire Beeken (now Jackson), contacted her. Caraline had agreed to make the documentary to help others. Claire was recovering from anorexia herself, and the documentary touched a chord in her. She contacted a magazine after reading a subsequent article about Caraline and asked if they would pass on a letter to her.
Caraline invited Claire to travel down to Brighton to meet her, and they had their first meeting in a cafe near the station to begin their extraordinary friendship. Caraline was an inspiration to Claire and had great hope and belief in Claire's progress and recovery. On her last visit to Brighton, Claire knew she would not see Caraline again and promised her that she would not die in vain. Claire vowed to set up a support group for people with eating disorders in Luton, as, at this stage, there was very little help anywhere in the UK for sufferers.
When discussing a re-branding and new website for the organisation, Claire remembered one of Caraline's last wishes was to go up in a hot air balloon, hence our logo in her memory. As the website's design took shape, the stories Claire shared about her visits to Brighton influenced our website illustrations so that they depicted Caraline's birthplace. They are also a reminder of where they supported each other and pledged to ensure that Caraline's demise would not be in vain.
Our charity has been in existence since 1994 and in 1995 received its first funding from Bedfordshire Health & Bedfordshire County Council. As with all stories, it has been a journey of ups and downs. However, the all-important focus to help those suffering from an eating disorder has gone from strength to strength. On the following pages, you can read about the range of services we offer and how we are continuing to develop our service so that nobody needs to suffer alone. You will find a listening ear at Caraline, along with a range of treatments and interventions to help you on your road to recovery.