Hope Virgo 1

I am the the Author of Stand Tall Little Girl, and an international leading advocate for people with eating disorders.

I help young people and employers (including schools, hospitals and businesses) to deal with the rising tide of mental health issues which affect one in four people and costs employers between £33 and £42 billion annually. I have been described by Richard Mitchell, CEO of Sherwood Forest Hospital, as “sharing a very powerful story with a huge impact”. I am also a recognised media spokesperson, having appeared on various platforms including BBC Newsnight, Victoria Derbyshire, Good Morning Britain, Sky News and BBC News.

For four years, I managed to keep it hidden, keeping dark secrets from friends and family. But then, on 17th November 2007, my world changed forever. I was admitted to a mental health hospital. My skin was yellowing, my heart was failing. I was barely recognisable. Forced to leave my family and friends, the hospital became my home. Over the next year, at my lowest ebb, I faced the biggest challenge of my life. I had to find the courage to beat my anorexia.

I began sharing my story in 2016 after my book was published and have gone from strength to strength. As well as working with organisations, I work closely with Government championing the rights of people affected by eating disorders. I launched the #DumpTheScales campaign in July 2018 reaching over 70,000 signatures, secured a debate in parliament, national media, an EDM as well as Ministerial support. The campaign has been something I have worked on completely alone with no support or funding from any organisations. I have used my passion, hardworking ethic and determination to get to where the campaign is today.

A huge part of the work I do is focusing on exercise and how this can be used to support recovery. This is why I chose to cycle across the country in October 2018 to raise awareness of mental health education and the importance of making it compulsory in schools. Along the way I spoke in schools and hospitals to share my story of recovery from anorexia.

Prior to working for myself to raise awareness and tackle stigma around mental health I worked for Alzheimer’s Society in Public Affairs, UNICEF in their Corporate Partnership team and in Thailand volunteering for a year.