Harry MacMillan, MEND’s Chief Executive Officer, tells us about how much MEND has grown since its beginnings in 2000.

How did it all start?
The first MEND programme was developed from 2000 and piloted in 2002. After starting gold standard research at Great Ormond Street Hospital and the UCL Institute of Child Health in 2003 MEND Central Ltd was set up in 2004, operating as a social enterprise, to build on this successful concept.

Why was MEND set up?
Paul Sacher, our Chief Research and Development Officer, Dr Paul Chadwick (now our Clinical Director) and I formed a team, made up of people from all sorts of backgrounds, to create an alternative to standard health service treatment for obesity. Most of us then worked for free in every spare second we could find for a couple of years, usually around kitchen tables!

What did you want to achieve?
Our goal was ambitious but simple – to make as big a difference to as many people as possible, especially those less advantaged by developing weight management and healthy lifestyle programmes that work.

How was your approach different?
Our ethos of partnering across sectors and drawing on experience from a range of backgrounds was born at the outset – as was the need to develop a suite of prevention, treatment, training and capacity building services. Measurement, research and evaluation remain key, as do internationalisation and possible application outside of obesity.

After the successful pilot, what happened next?
In late 2005 we began to work with a few Primary Care Trusts and Local Authorities in England. In December 2006 we got major funding from visionaries at the Big Lottery Fund and Sainsbury’s, which meant could start to deliver on a large scale and build the MEND team. The rest, as they say, is history! We hope that we will continue to learn and improve and that MEND’s story is just beginning…


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