Hope Virgo

Trigger Hub Brand Ambassador & Bestseller

Hope Virgo is an author and multi award winning campaigner for people with eating disorders. 

Through her talks, Hope helps young people and employers (including schools, hospitals and businesses) deal with the rising tide of mental health issues which affect one in four people and cost employers between £33 and £42 billion annually. 

Hope is also a recognised media spokesperson, having appeared on various platforms including BBC Newsnight, Good Morning Britain, Sky News and BBC News. She has published two books including best-seller Stand Tall Little Girl, documenting her eating disorder journey. 

For four years, Hope managed to keep her eating disorder hidden but in 2007, she was admitted to a mental health hospital where she remained for a year. 

#DumpTheScales

In 2018, Hope launched #DumpTheScales which called on the government to stop using BMI as the primary measure to determine whether someone with an eating disorder would qualify for NHS support. 

Her petition generated over 116,000 signatures and was delivered to Number 10 Downing Street.

Get to know Hope...

What inspired you to write your book?

I was frustrated by the lack of understanding about eating disorders and that there is so much stigma around them that I decided I had to start speaking up about it. 

For me this began with getting everything down on to paper. I had always really enjoyed writing and spent such a lot of time when I had been in hospital writing, and had taken this forward. 

remember going for a drink with a friend and telling them I was going to write a book and I think that made the whole thing feel much more pressurised to actually go and do. But my passion to change the system and to change the way eating disorders have been understood has certainly been a huge driving force in my writing. 

And, if I can change just one person’s misperceptions about eating disorders, and encourage one person to recover I feel I have at least done something and turned what was a terrible time in my life into something positive.

What do you do in your spare time Hope? ... tell us about your hobbies and interests.

I am a very outdoorsy person and love seeing the world so I spend most of my time when I am not campaigning pottering around outside, hiking, cycling, and exploring new parts of the world. My favourite places tend to be in the Middle East where there is amazing food, scenery, and the people are lovely.

"Is that behaviour giving you the outcome you want?"

What's the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given, and why?

It was a question a close friend asked me:

“Is that behaviour giving you the outcome you want?” 

 …and, while I know it might seem risky taken out of context, for me it made me realise that a lot of the unhealthy coping mechanisms I had were not giving me the life I wanted.

Are you a dog or cat person?

Definitely a dog person! Always grew up with spaniels in my life and we nearly succumbed

to the pressure of buying a pandemic dog. Not sure if it was a good or bad thing we didn’t!

What was your dream job as a child?

Either a pop singer or an astronaut!

What do you want to be remembered for?

For loving broken people and not ever giving up!

Do you have any plans to write another book?

Yes! At the moment I am writing another one which is a faith based book looking at mental health and helping young people aged 12 – 19. But I have a lot of ideas in my head … although not sure whether I will ever get around to writing it all down!

Tell us something about yourself that not many people know…

I once spent the night in an Italian prison when I was inter-railing around Europe!

Do you have a bucket list?

Not exactly, but I got married this summer and we have made a list of 50 things to do in the first year of being married! I think for me there is always something about having things I want to do in my life, that backburner list of things that I need to make sure I am doing. What I realised in COVID19 was we need to stop putting off things because of fear and start really living!

What does self-care mean to you?

Showing myself compassion on a day to day basis. This might be moisturising after I have had a shower, or journaling before bed. For all of us self-care looks so different and that’s okay. It doesn’t have to be expensive but it is important to think about how we can factor things in to our weeks. At the start of this year I made a wellbeing jar which had a list of things that I need to do each week for my mental health and within that includes self-care with walks, seeing friends and going to church. It is a good check list and a good base list of things especially when life feels a bit overwhelming!

Do you journal?

All the time, whether on my phone, in a diary before bed – I find that when i am not journaling the impact it has on my mental health is quite large!

Your book really touches on your personal experiences and you are so frank and open, that must have been quite an experience to write. How did it feel to tell your story?

It felt really hard in places and no one can really prepare you for exposing yourself to that length but I am so pleased I did it. I have learnt the things I want to share and how to protect myself. One of the hardest things for me was opening myself up to judgement and putting myself in a space where people felt they could say anything to you but that all said, I am so pleased that I wrote it and that I gave way for these conversations to develop. And the response from so many has been so positive it has certainly helped.

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