Council focuses on improving local community’s understanding of mental health issues

A series of mental health workshops are being held by East Devon District Council in Sidmouth to help young people, parents and working professionals have a better understanding of mental illness and to educate them on the issues surrounding it.

All the workshops are being coordinated by Aaron Clark from East Devon’s Community Development service and Debbie Humberstone, founder and co-ordinator of The Project, a young persons’ mental health support group based in Axminster. The workshops are being funded by a grant from the Parishes Together Fund, which is community funding available to town and parish councils from Devon County Council and East Devon District Council. This was successfully applied for by Sidmouth Town Council. The workshops will all be led by The Project.

No booking is required for the workshops.

Dates and locations of East Devon’s mental health workshops in Sidmouth are:

  • 25 January 2018 – 6.30pm to 8.30pm at Manstone Youth Centre, Sidmouth Lane, EX10 9TS - this workshop is specifically for young people who use the centre and receive provision there.
  • 1 February 2018 – 5pm to 7pm at YMCA Sidmouth, Mill Street, Sidmouth, EX10 8DF
  • 1 March 2018 – 5pm to 7pm at YMCA Sidmouth
    • Both the YMCA workshops are for parents who may have children suffering with mental health issues and/or who know of any young people who are suffering from mental health problems, perhaps in a working capacity.
    • 22 May 2018 – two separate two hour workshops at Sidmouth College for Sixth Form (Year 12) students only (not open to the public).

 Cllr Matt Booth, ward member for Sidmouth, said:

We began work on addressing the situation around mental health in young people in Sidmouth after it was highlighted at a meeting of the Sidmouth Health & Care Forum. It is well known to be a national crisis. It took time to begin to get some results, but thanks to a successful Parishes Together fund bid achieved through Sidmouth Town Council and the hard work of Community Development Worker Aaron Clark, plus a partnership with the Project, we are now beginning to run events and get some real results such as the event run recently for professionals at Sidmouth College.

Cllr Ian Hall, ward member for Axminster Rural said:

I recently attended a mental health workshop at Sidmouth College on 11 January presented by Debbie Humberstone and Aaron Clark.

The session was very interesting and informative and I believe this initiative could be rolled out across the district and give communities the confidence to help lift the vanishing taboo of mental health illnesses.

I was a teenager who struggled with mental illness for nearly a decade and tried to hide my struggles. Thankfully, I can see that things are moving in the right direction regarding acceptance.

I was able to relate to so much that was discussed at the workshop and the youngsters of today have to deal with so many more and different pressures. I personally have always believed that tackling areas of mental health in the local communities is possibly the best environment for recovery and understanding for the individuals, families and friends, along with the support of groups such as the very successful Project that has helped so many in the Axminster area. I endorse the council’s involvement and would like to encourage this partnership to develop.

Debbie Humberstone said:

I’m really happy to be delivering these workshops in collaboration with East Devon District Council – an important part of helping to support our young people is to raise awareness, increase understanding and challenge the stigma that surrounds mental illness, making it easier for people to speak up and ask for help if they need it. It’s fantastic to see Sidmouth Town Council supporting this work, too.

In the Spring,The Project will be opening its third support group in Ottery St Mary, and ultimately we hope to be able to open a further group in Sidmouth, if sufficient community support and funding can be found. This is a great first step towards that goal.

Di Fuller, Chair of the Sidmouth Health and Care Forum, said:

This mental health awareness project is the result of a need identified by Sidmouth Health and Care Forum over 2 years ago. Many professionals and volunteers have contributed to the discussion about how we could improve access to services for young people with mental health needs in the Sid Valley. Aaron has taken lead and added vital input. We are hopeful that this series of activities is the starting point for future provision in Sidmouth for our young people.


For further information about the workshops please contact: Aaron Clark on 07875286782  or email: