2023 Community Development Funding Update – Part 1

Discover the inspiring journey of our some of our 2023 Community Development Fund winners as we delve into the positive feedback and progress they’ve made after receiving our funding earlier in the year. Join us in celebrating their achievements and the impact they’re creating in our latest update.

The Washing Machine of Destiny

The Washing Machine of Destiny are second time winners of our Community Development Fund. They previously won funding in 2022, in which they used to put together a show about what it is like to live whilst being on the autistic spectrum.

A summary of their show:

Luca Saunders is still a teenager, Philip Robinson is getting on a bit. Both are on the autistic spectrum. The Washing Machine Of Destiny theatre show is a conglomeration of their bonkers ideas, perhaps like nothing you will have seen before. An eclectic mixture of music and characters and story and conversation and yet more music in a show that they have created together. 

Luca had the idea he wanted to make a play that could communicate some of the weird and wonderful and occasionally worrying things that zip through his neurodivergent brain at a hundred miles an hour, and Philip was well up for that, adding in his own zippy things too. Pippa Marriott came in to slow things down a little and do some directing. All three live in Devon. 

Its true to say young Luca is now an emerging actor and is certainly an experienced ‘autie’. Old Philip is a very experienced actor and, it would also be true to say, is now an emerging ‘autie’. Their ten year friendship is a match made in heaven, or at least in the hot temperature tumbling crazy spin cycle of their shared experiences.

Following on, this year they received our funding to purchase ear defenders for their audience members, to help make the show more accessible for people who struggle with sensory overload.

Philip, Luca and Pippa have had a fantastic year touring with their show. They kicked off their South West tour by selling out their first three shows at Crediton Arts Centre followed by Ashburton Arts Centre for the Tinners Moon Festival. They performed 3 shows at Exeter Library, attracting an enthusiastic crowd of over 200 people! Their autumn adventures included a performance at The Plough Arts Centre, a performance in The Centre Newlyn, in Penzance.  

Washing machine of destiny poster
The Washing Machine of Destiny.

In addition, they have received funding from Arts Council England in August 2023 which has allowed them to take things further and do more shows. They have also started offering inclusive theatre workshops for those who are living with special educational needs, who identify as neurodivergent, have a disability or a mental health condition. These have been very popular. 

Moreover, they have now started performing and offering workshops within schools and colleges, recently taking their show to Pathfield Special School. 

Audience members have warmly embraced the show, and many individuals from the neurodiverse community commend it for raising awareness about autism and celebrating neurodiversity.

We were grateful to have The Washing Machine of Destiny team at our Recovery Day to deliver a talk about the importance of sharing stories and and how our funding supported them.

Future dates of the show: 26th January 2024 at Palace Theatre, Paignton; 27th January 2024 at Taunton Brewhouse; 10th February 2024 at Crediton Arts Centre.

Audience feedback:

“Luca and Philip’s artful blend of scripts bits and chaos unpacked a permission-giving riot of ideas and laughs for this very appreciative audience. Peppered through were tete-a-tete chats responding to questions about autism from the audience, centring two autistic experiences and always making it clear that no two, or four, or even hundred will be exactly alike. Quite unlike anything you will see this year.

Find out more here www.linktr.ee/washingmachineofdestiny

Find @washingmachineofdestiny on Facebook and Instagram

Contact email: washingmachineofdestiny@gmail.com

Waymakers North Devon CIC

Waymakers CIC applied for funding to support their group of teenage girls and those assigned female at birth who are on the autistic spectrum. The group ranges from 14-19 year olds and they sometimes have visitors from graduates from the group. Young people can access this group in school or college time with permission from parents/carers and school/college staff.

The funds have enabled a variety of activities with the group such as paddleboarding, ‘painting a pot’ and an escape room. The activities have been fun, helped individuals make new friends and build confidence – for example they have been able to experience traveling on train as part of their trips out, something that can be very overwhelming for many people with autism. Jody had the pleasure of being able to attend one of their group sessions and was in admiration of WayMakers and the way in which this group runs.

Furthermore, it was encouraging to see how the group promotes healthy open discussions supported by the group’s facilitators and has become safe space for the group to talk about their mental health, autism and lived experience.

They use feedback forms to collect information on the impact of the group and use a check-in/out for individuals to share how they are feeling at the beginning and end of each session to see how this progresses. On evaluation it has been clear that the confidence of individuals grows the more time they spend with the group and after activities. 

Example of feedback

“I find them helpful because they remind me that there will be more positive experiences in the future and give something to focus on. It is also a helpful reminder that I have tackled those challenges so that I can tackle the issue that is making me anxious. They also serve as a good distraction and spending time with other people helps to decrease my anxiety as well.

A quote from founder of WayMakers, Alex Kelly:

“This funding from Recovery Devon has enabled us to offer additional activities and outings beyond our standard ‘offer’ for our teen AFAB group. These are such valuable opportunities given that these teens have often missed out on the fun social activities that felt inaccessible whilst at school. So far, this funding has contributed to a paddleboarding trip with CEET, a forest school day with Hakeford Woods, and a session at Paint-a-Pot: these trips are often the highlight of our group’s time with us, in spaces where friendships are cemented and much fun is had. On behalf of the whole WayMakers team and families: thank you from us all!”

Jody and the Waymakers group
Jody and the Waymakers group at Paint a Pot Studio Braunton.

WayMakers website: www.waymakers.co.uk

Find @waymakers_uk on Facebook and Instagram

Contact email: alex@waymakers.co.uk

Men’s Group at Colab Exeter

Before this group was set up, there was no budget allocated for the provision of a service for males attending Colab. Recovery Devon’s funding helped to fuel impactful activities for the peer support group, plus provide vital refreshments for groups attenders —enhancing the session’s welcoming atmosphere and validating Colab’s goals in establishing the Men’s Group.

The Men’s Group has been running for almost 6 months. During the most recent session they had 11 men in attendance. With the men consistently coming back each week, it is clearly demonstrated that there is a real need in our community for a place where men can come along and talk openly about their lives and their mental health. Recently they ran some extra activities that the men had suggested for example ‘CPR and Defibrillator training’ and ‘Mental Health First Aid Course’. These indicate that the men would like to give something back to their community.

Feedback from attendee of The Men’s Group

“I have found the group useful in lifting me out of my own problems and realizing many [others] are in difficulty.” The poem below was written by this man. He has attended the Men’s Group from the very first session:

“Downcast eyes

Closed down senses

Taste of lead

Painful head

Introverted

Isolated 

Alone

Lost

At a loss

All time lows

Body blows.

I arrived

I settled

Felt a sense of belonging 

The longing

For connection

I shared

Others cared

I felt valued.

A glimmer of possibility

A lightening

A softening

A clearing

Upon hearing

The shared experiences 

Of other troubled men.

The sharing of pain

That had lain

Hidden 

Submerged

 Beneath

The protective shield of “I’m alright”

The isolated became connected.

Feedback from Mark Duckworth, group facilator

‘Some of our men have explicitly stated that their attendance at the Men’s Group is a part of their recovery, with the peer support they unconditionally receive being something that aids that recovery. It may be the case in the future that certain men attend the group less but importantly, know it is there for them if required. Thank You to Recovery Devon.’

Colab’s Website: www.colabexeter.org.uk

Find @colabexeter on social media.

Contact email: Group facilator Mark Duckworth mark.duckworth@colabexeter.org.uk

Surviving Abuse Northern Devon CIC – SAND (Previously Survivors Alliance)

SAND’s funding was used to fund the first in-person women’s group that took place in the summer of 2023 and was used to fund 12 places for women in a 6 week therapeutic support group for those who have survived sexual violence. They have been offered a variety of different therapies and activities, for example psycho-education and learning how to cook nutritious meals.

Weekly themes guide sessions, yet participant-led discussions prevail. For example, one individual sharing a challenging week sparked a conversation on dissociation, offering support and raising awareness among those unfamiliar with such symptoms.

Josie Knight, who is the Managing Director for SANDS, explained that even though the six weeks is over they will continue to support these individuals and look to offering more sessions if helpful, there is also the offer to receive support 1:1 in counselling sessions (Individuals are invited to refer themselves back at any point). They look to be continuing the group so that they can help more survivors, particularly those who are stuck waiting on long NHS waiting lists and those feeling unable to move forward with their lives after their traumas.

Sarah Willoughby, the lead counsellor and group facilator for SANDS, shared some of the anonymous feedback forms and reports on how participants felt at the beginning of the 6 week course, compared to the end – the results were amazing, with a huge improvement in scores of overall wellbeing.

SAND also offer low-cost specialist therapeutic support at our central premises in Barnstaple. They use various approaches including CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), EMDR (Eye Movement, Desensitisation & Reprocessing), Rewind and Single Session Therapy. Moreover, their support extends to friends and family members who are in a supporting role. For referrals contact Sarah on 07763617693 sand-referrals@survivingabuse.org.uk

Group member feedback

“As a survivor myself, it took me years to acknowledge what had happened to me. I found that once I admitted to being a survivor, it became obvious that – out of all of my friends and family members – no woman or member of the LGBTQ+ community hadn’t experienced some form of sexual harassment, assault or abuse. This made me determined to raise awareness as much as possible, whether it’s through petitions, my PhD, spreading knowledge, or social media! My studies are focused on making academia a more equal place, free of discrimination; one of the things I love most about SAND is the acknowledgement that anyone can be a survivor and being there to help regardless of background. SAND is here to help us all.” shared one client.

SAND’s website: www.survivingabuse.org.uk/

Find @survivingabusenortherndevon on social media

Contact email: admin@survivingabuse.org.uk

2024 Community Development Fund

We have yet to release the opening dates for our 2024 funding, however if you would like to be the first to know when our fund is open again, please get in touch by emailing hello@recoverydevon.co.uk.

In the meantime, you can browse through our website to see other mental health projects we have funded. Just search ‘Community Development Fund‘ in the search box.