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£1,000 grant awarded for North Devon surf and rowing courses

Posted by Devon Partnership Trust in News on 28th January, 2020

The Devon Recovery Learning Community (DRLC) is a service provided by Devon Partnership NHS Trust offering free, open access courses to support the wellbeing and mental health of people across Devon. We work in partnership with many organisations and groups that support us in the delivery of recovery learning opportunities ranging from courses about mental health treatments and therapies, to those around developing knowledge and skills; finding meaning, purpose and hope; rebuilding your life; getting involved; and courses to challenge the mind and the body.
The DRLC is coming to the end of its Autumn/Winter term 2019/2020. Our thanks to our peer tutors, our outside partner organisations and of course to our very own staff from a range of Devon Partnership NHS Trust services who contribute their time and expertise to help us deliver a recovery curriculum that is an inspiration to other Recovery Colleges across the UK. 
The DRLC wants to say a huge thank you especially to the North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) for a grant of £1,000 which enabled us to pilot several innovative courses delivered under the heading Finding Meaning and Living Well in our Wild Things! Programme. These courses aim to challenge our minds and our bodies to push the boundaries of what we believe can support our mental health. The funding we received from the North Devon AONB would not otherwise be made available by the NHS.
The DRLC believes that access to the outdoors, experiencing the natural beauty of the coastal landscapes that surround us in Devon, and making meaningful connections with nature has a hugely beneficial and potentially life-changing impact on our mental health and wellbeing. Funding from the North Devon Coast AONB gave us the opportunity to deliver three really exceptional courses based on these principles. 
The Three New Courses
Riding the Waves: Surfing
We offered three sessions of surfing in partnership with Surf South West in Croyde, North Devon. Instructors from Surf South West were assisted by two highly experienced DRLC peer tutors offering peer support and mentorship to the students who attended. What a fantastic opportunity for our students to try something new, challenge themselves to address their fears, to take positive risks and to build their confidence and belief in themselves to do what they might have considered the impossible! 
Row for Recovery: Introduction to Gig Rowing
The DRLC has the good fortune of having one of its own North Devon based peer trainers, Claire Crook, who is also a member of the Torridge Pilot Gig Club. Claire helped open the door for the DRLC to work in partnership with her club based in Appledore. The course offered our students the opportunity to experience the physical benefits of gig rowing. It also introduced them to the local club as a point of contact to continue rowing should they wish to, and to take part in an enjoyable and outgoing activity that can develop as a life-long interest. The gig club provided two individual sessions to row on the beautiful Tor estuary, allowing students to experience some magnificent coastline views where the Devon landscape meets the Bristol Channel.

Lost Words: Poetry and Nature

Funding from the North Devon Coast AONB provided the DRLC with a wonderful opportunity to offer a full-day walk and workshop inspired by the book The Lost Words: A Spell Book by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris. Recognising the loss of words for the natural world in our vocabulary, the author and illustrator of the book created a spell-binding collection of poems and artwork to conjure nature back in our own lives. Ten students bravely faced the wind and the rain to venture on the nature walk along the Tor estuary, led by the wildlife enthusiast, Nick Boyd. Nick helped students spot birds and wildlife through binoculars and a high-powered telescope. Waterproof notepads were provided for the students to write down and collect their words and, in the afternoon, poet and writer, Phoebe Nicholson, helped us to write our own poetic conjuring encouraging us to incorporate the words we wrote down in the mizzle and rain. The aim was for us to bring the natural world back into our own lives through guided reflection on what we saw and felt and heard in the out of doors. Phoebe also provided a table full of visually inspiring collage materials including old prints, old books (otherwise destined for the landfill), textured paper, coloured pencils and felt tip pens. Below are a couple of poems from that inspiring day.
- Caroline Nicholson, Manager, Devon Recovery Learning Community
Bideford Quay Mizzle
Mizzle, drizzle, drist and pizzle, penetrates
Into my skin and bones, grumpy, damp, wet.
Zing! There was a Kingfisher. Oh, he’s gone.
Zoom in on the Goldcrest. Oh, missed him again.
Lost birds, lost words, there! What was that I heard?
Egret, white, pristine. 
I cast my spell in the mud.
The Herring Gull, hunched in his
heavy overcoat, neck tucked in, a
Short shake of his gathered self to
keep out the wet and the cold.

The curlews, frozen in time upon the
Perfect curling surface, a uni-legged and
unison garrison of sleeping sculptures.

The spindly legs of the little egret,
socks of yellow sighted with each determined
Delicate lift and quick step replacement back into
the mud, like wire knitting needles.

The fascinating and fluffy blackbird,
yellow beaked, ref’s peep, high shriek
Astonishingly hidden amongst red berries
of the hawthorn tree.