Spring 2020 – Helping Devon get recovery ready

As the whole world adjusts to a great many changes brought about by Covid-19, it can be hard to follow what’s happening from one day to the next. We’re moving through a time of collective anxiety, into a longer marathon of endurance. Now more than ever, our resilience, both personally and in community, will be greatly helped by enduring recovery principles.

Here’s a round-up of what’s changed at Recovery Devon in the last couple of months, and how we hope to help grow the recovery movement to serve Devon’s wellbeing over the next year.

Immediate response

In mid-March, we quickly identified the need to keep mental health high on the agenda as lockdown unfolded, with audiences becoming overwhelmed with distressing news. Keen to address this quickly, within a few days we established some safe spaces online with our Positive News Blog and Recovery Devon Dailies. During April these have grown into a project of their own, with many contributors adding their unique voices and responses. Endorsed by a recent small grant from the Devon Coronavirus Emergency Fund, we will be continuing these during spring and summer.

BBC Radio Devon invited us to speak on their breakfast show several times during and immediately after lockdown, to share how recovery principles could help. We’ve been invited to provide a week of “Pauses for Thought” from 25th May 2020.

Recovery Devon 2020 Development Fund

With great sadness, we decided to suspend this year’s Recovery Devon Development Fund. The vast majority of the thirty-six applications received were due to take place over the spring and summer months and involved social contact, so we had no choice. Each applicant was notified in mid-March, and with the help of an independent advisor, we identified some applications that might still be possible to run online. These were invited to adapt their project at the end of March, and the results are coming through, mostly in the form of short online courses which also served as “dailies.”

At present we hope to hold successful applicants over until 2021, depending on changes to social contact advice in the next year.

Recovery Rising

Our “festival of recovery” planned for Friday 3rd July at the University of Exeter Forum has naturally been postponed, with a new date of Saturday 26th June 2021. We are exploring whether to run an online conference in its place this summer instead.

Thank you to everyone who offered help, and for staying in touch ready to celebrate recovery in person when the time is right.

Phoenix Nights

Exeter Phoenix very sensibly closed its doors quite early in the pandemic. However, we were able to hold one talk before lockdown; “Recovery Through Dreams” by David Hess. The event was well attended and well received; luckily, we made a recording, which is being turned into a podcast.

Other development work

Staying with podcasts, those who came to our Development Day in December 2019 will remember that friends who attended were very keen on a Recovery Devon podcast. Accessibility was felt to be the main benefit; people at an earlier stage in recovery sometimes lack the capacity to digest written information. We’re pleased to say that these are well under way and the first was recorded in April.

Our online resource library recently had a facelift and is being populated with useful resources for individuals and organisations to use freely.

The Recovery Devon Daisy Chain, planned as a public “yarn bomb” for Mental Health Awareness Week in May, has evolved into project from home. People are invited to make daisies in any craft they wish and display them in their windows or gardens as a show of mental health awareness and solidarity. We may yet stage a public event for World Mental Health Day in October 2021. Join the group on Facebook, or download a worksheet from our library.

Daisies in a lockdown window, April 2020

Other company news

Our two Community Development Workers, Em and Sami, and CEO James, remain in post and are working from home. Besides working on everything above, they are staying in regular contact with our recovery community, and always looking for ways to help people stay involved, supported and appreciated. Our tech expert Mike is helping us to adapt to working online, and making our website and resource library easy for all to use. Making funding bids, and working with our board on business development, ensures we are in a good position to keep mental health recovery high on the agenda for Devon’s collective path through this time.

Our two anthologies of lived experience are always helpful to our community, and can be sent to you free of charge. Find your copy of “Beyond the Storms” and “Riding the Storms” here.

Connect with us!

As ever, we actively welcome involvement from our community. Whether you need support, wish to get involved, or have a suggestion for us – get in touch!