About us

Open Arms East Devon provides support for adults in East Devon with mental health difficulties. The group was founded by Garry Wakeham in 2017 after the centre he was attending for support was closed. We focus on increasing social interaction and improving confidence and well being.

We usually meet twice a week from 12.00 – 4pm on Tuesdays and from 10.30am till 4pm on Fridays, at the Community Use Building (CUB) School Lane, Honiton. Sessions are free and members can participate in activities or call in informally just to meet up with others.

We have arts and crafts activities and healthy eating demonstrations where we cook and eat together. Activities are chosen by members themselves.

  • Games, musical instruments, computers and IT guidance are all available
  • We ask for a small recommended donation for refreshments
  • Carers and support workers are welcome
  • Experience a friendly welcome from people who understand
  • If you are anxious about coming to the group, give us a call – we can arrange to meet first
  • We have information and self-help books and can help you to find support from other organisations if you need it

Garry's Story

Garry Wakeham

“I have suffered from depression for most of my life. After a family tragedy, I struggled to cope alone and was admitted to hospital for treatment. I ended up homeless as a result of a breakdown in 2016.

While on the road to recovery the following year, the mental health facility that I relied on for support was closed. I saw the distress of the people using the centre and, with help from others, I found premises and set up a group so that we could continue to support each other. So Open Arms East Devon was born.

Since then we have grown in numbers and become a registered charity. I have seen how Open Arms East Devon has changed people’s lives – they have grown in confidence and now enjoy meeting with others. They tell me that they are doing things they have not done in years and I have often been told that Open Arms East Devon is their safe place.

Running the group has also helped my own recovery and I am privileged to have been made East Devon District Council Tenant of the Year in 2018 and to be one of three national finalists for a Community Leader of the Year Award in 2019.

If you need support please get in touch – I look forward to meeting you.”

“I look forward to going as everyone is so friendly. I have regained a lot more of my confidence back. I feel a lot happier than I have been which has helped me especially with daily activities”

About the charity

We are a registered charity run by volunteers. We have a board of Trustees to guide and oversee our activities. They are:

  • Garry Wakeham
  • Michael Jones
  • Dean Barrow
  • Henry Brown
  • Sue Edwards