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Supporting your recovery every step of the way

DAWS Residential 2018

Peer Mentors and Volunteers gather at the campsite

Last month, a group of DAWS peer mentors, service users, and staff headed south west for a residential in the Devon countryside. In this blog, Michael Huck, our Peer Mentor and Volunteer Manager reflects on the trip. See the full set of photos on our Facebook page.

“It was a great reminder of the fun you can have in recovery, I had an amazing time”

As part of our celebrations for Recovery Month, some of our service users and peer mentors took part in a social inclusion residential activity.

DAWS service users and peer mentors planned a three day residential in Devon, and took part in conservation work, bush craft skills and team building activities. This was in partnership with Tempo, Time Credits and Prattshayes Farm.

We were so lucky that the weather during the residential was lovely and the sun shone for the duration of the trip. Service users and peer mentors stayed in a converted barn at Prattshayes farm, a beautiful National Trust property a stone’s throw from the beach in Exmouth. On arrival, the group settled in and went for an evening walk on the esplanade to watch the Devonian sun set.

The group allocated various roles to each other over the course of the residential and those that had volunteered to cook produced a wonderful spaghetti bolognese for everyone. Leisure time after dinner was spent playing charades and other group games.

Peer mentors hedge layingThe following morning we were up bright and early to meet local woodsman Gareth Doors and trusty sidekick Dave the dog. Gareth explained that during the summer holiday, vandals had broken in to the camp he runs for Bristol school children and damaged a Saxon roundhouse and the adjacent hedgerow.

We set to work alongside the volunteer team rebuilding the hedgerow, using a method known as ‘hedge laying’, an ancient woodland management technique. Lunch was a rustic affair, sausage, bacon and eggs cooked over the campfire cooked by the volunteer team. We were treated to live Irish folk music played on a fiddle on of the volunteers had brought with them.

The working day over, we were taken to the lagoon – an enclosed part of the beach – and after donning wetsuits we headed out with the instructors for an hour of wakeboarding and kayaking!

“It was an amazing experience, I will remember it always. Would recommend to anyone!”

On our final day, we were back at the summer camp to finish the repair work on the hedgerow. The group was joined on the day by Emma, a professional forager who led the group to collect ingredients to cook a wonderful woodland stew for lunch, which included fresh homemade flatbreads cooked on the camp fire. Finishing work after lunch the group rounded off the day by creating tree spirits, faces made from clay attached to the trees, and shared their highlights of the trip with one another.

The group wished a fond farewell to the volunteers and then journeyed back to London to head home.

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