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Case Studies

Prevention of Eating Disorders and The Pantry

Published by Sarah Pickthall or Maria Pattinson
Project Directors
Cusp Inc
Telephone 07956853150

The Pantry is a refreshing and innovative young person centred approach to talking about eating.

Prevention of Eating Disorders and The Pantry

Our delivery partners are

The Pantry works in partnership with NHS Surrey, Registered Dietitians who specialise in Eating Disorders in Young People, the Chances4change team, a secondary school, a Special School, and Farnham Maltings (host venue for the Pantry Showcase event).

  • Our artists are Sarah Pickthall (writing), Maria Pattinson (drama), Rachel Gadsden (visual arts),Monika Akila Richards (performance poetry) Sarah Scott (movement), Abbie Norris (film).

  • The online web resources are developed in partnership with award winning web developers - Surface Impression. 

We have funding and support from...

Chances4Change Big Lottery Fund and the future life of The Pantry has been extended through additional funding from Arts Council England.

  • The first phase of the project is based in Surrey and on the web.  Future funding will enable us to spread the arts-intervention to other locations across the South East region and to promote the web resources nationally. 
  • The overall project started in April 2008.  The Pantry element began in Autumn 2009 and will complete this cycle in December 2010 with extensions into Spring 2011. 
  • The beneficiaries are young people in education in Surrey and those adults who are responsible for their health and well-being, such as teachers, school nurses and carers. 

What they have said is......

  • "It has given me and everyone a sense of how food and media can affect people and the strong impact that food has upon every one's lives" . ( pupil, secondary school) l) 

  • We set up this project because of a need to involve young people in

    how they might be involved in the prevention of eating disorders. Previous school based projects had focused on dietitians delivering workshops to school and college staff and school nurses which informed and raised awareness of the issues around eating disorders and young people. The Pantry provides a non-threatening and creative environment for young people themselves to discuss their feelings and habits around food. Within the overall project The Prevention of Eating Disorders of which The Pantry is a part, all the secondary schools in Surrey plus Surrey's community nurses have been offered training in the form of an interactive workshop for staff.  These workshops are run by the Surrey NHS Specialist Eating Disorders Dietitians.  To date 53 workshops have taken place and 4 more are planned, the workshops will end at the end of the school term December 2010.


  • The difference this project makes is that young people have raised awareness of the problems that some of their peers may be experiencing around food and enhances their understanding of the positive contribution they can make to another's wellbeing. Through the use of creative activities, young people are more able to be open about their feelings surrounding body image, peer pressure and their social environment. In some vulnerable young people remaining hidden is a contributing factor in the development of an eating disorder.


  • " In science we are just told about it and in Citizenship we are just told about it. We've explored the feelings and go into it in detail in drama"(pupil, secondary school  )

What we did or are doing

  • The Pantry takes place in schools and pupil referral units. Professional artists work with young people over a period of days or weeks to make some ‘stuff' for an online store cupboard of wonderful things that can happen when young people talk about food in creative spaces.

    • Creative ideas and happenings are stored on this website so that other young people who want to talk about their food can see where working with creativity can take them.

    • Here you can find ideas and outcomes from drama activities.

    • In The Pantry, drama is used to explore the internal world of young people who are beginning or are in the middle of personal conflict; finding safe and exciting ways to externalise that which is often hidden from teachers, family and friends.

    • Here you can find writing ideas to make poetry, prose and scripts for drama

    • In the Pantry, writing is not something that is done in a strict form, it's more freefall. Pantry writing is often seen as naughty, rebellious, heart felt and is about speaking the truth but in subtle and often silent ways.

    • Here you can find ideas for visual art as a means to explore our body shapes and structures.

    • Many of The Pantry's visual artistic exercises focus on an exploration of what the body requires for nourishment to be able to survive and how as individuals, we control that process.

    • We chose this method because the development of creative product from one's own experience is a powerful tool for transformation. The Pantry developed for a series of pilot drama workshops with young people as their response to a professional production of a new play about bulimia. Through the workshops, it became evident that the young people were highly engaged with the potential of finding metaphors for issues that affect them - not only eating but also bullying, geographical displacement, friendships and relationships. In seeking to find an artistic response to these concerns, the young people took risks and their personal stories resonated with their peers at a much deeper level.
    • The Pantry partnership with NHS Surrey  is an integral part of the project : specialist eating disorders dietitians provide much needed professional expertise and guidance on what is published on the website.  Since the internet is a place that young people communicate and find out about things, The Pantry needs to safeguard against misuse - providing a positive on-line message.

    • Teenage girls are 5 times more likely to try self induced vomiting if they've read about it.


  • What's Happened Is the provision of  8 workshops in our pilot school,  leading to a public performance of 8 short dramas created by year 10 students.

  • Design of The Pantry website.

  • Development of video and photographic material for The Pantry website.

  • Uploading of resources to the website.

  • Planning and delivery of a showcase event to other schools and healthcare professionals 

  • Planning for a day-long Pantry event in  a special school  December 3rd 2010 



What we would do differently......

  • The Pantry has been slow to get off the ground. Although appropriate to aspects of the school curriculum, it is hard for educational environments to commit themselves to outside interventions without long lead-in times. Because The Pantry is new and exploratory, the process of convincing schools to take a risk would have benefited from greater clarity at the start of the project.

  • The evaluation of the showcase event showed that that the Pantry overall and the thinking behind it was enthusiastically received and felt to be excellent or good by 14 out of the 15 evaluations received.  Most other areas of the evaluation were also considered to be excellent or good by the majority of the respondents.  The knowledge areas related to knowing more about the prevention of eating disorders and of where to seek advice/ help for young people had a more mixed response.  These knowledge areas are best addressed by the Eating Disorders Awareness Workshops being carried out by our Specialist Eating Disorders Dietitians within the overall project The Prevention of Eating Disorders of which the Pantry is a part.  All participants of the Pantry showcase who had not previously received one of these workshops have been invited to host one for themselves and other school staff.

Evaluation - There will be an evaluation document available on request from the project directors by Easter 2011. 

The project is now......

  • moving into a second phase that includes three artist residencies, including working with a pupil referral unit , which is funded by Arts Council England.

Additional information or comments?

  • If you are interested in The Pantry and would like to discuss a range of ways for us to get involved with your organization, please contact us. 



Print this page
Lead Organisation NHS Surrey
Geographical Area Surrey
Outcomes Improving health, Increasing participation
Beneficiary Age Young People (16-25)
Beneficiary Groups Boys and men, Girls and women, People with physical or learning disabilities, Vulnerable young people
Type of activity  
Primary Theme Chances4Change
Secondary Themes Eating for Health Mental Wellbeing



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