Supporting the younger generation

Funding level: £10,001 to £25,000


The Project provides an early intervention and prevention support service to improve the emotional wellbeing and mental health of young people aged 13-24 in Devon, Somerset and Dorset, through:

- Facilitated peer support groups for young people, in two age groups – 13-18s and 18-24s. These sessions offer: an opportunity for young people to meet others experiencing similar issues in a safe, non-clinical and relaxed environment; a programme of activities and workshops that give tools and techniques for supporting emotional wellbeing, improving resilience and building confidence and self-esteem; one-to-one support. These are run by a team of staff and volunteers, many of whom have their own lived mental health experience. Our cross-generational team provide inspiration and hope to our young people, as well as being role models on the road to recovery.

- Monthly support group for the parents and carers of young people affected by mental health issues. This group space offers: an opportunity for parents to meet with others, to share experiences, give and receive support; talks and workshops on relevant mental health issues, for building emotional resilience and teaching relaxation techniques.

- Mental health awareness training, talks and workshops to break down the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness, working with schools, organisations, local authorities and the wider community.

- Providing mental health information and signposting to young people and their families, via our website, blogs, social media, telephone and face-to-face.

- Advocacy support for young people and parents to help them express views and concerns, access services and information, and explore options and choices in relation to their mental health needs

The Project’s first group opened in Axminster, Devon, in September 2013 in response to local need. This was followed in January 2016 by their second group in Chard, Somerset.

We have been overwhelmed by the support of our community since The Project opened in 2013. I believe that we have helped to raise the profile of mental illness locally, and by bringing these issues into the public eye, have helped to change attitudes.

After every talk given, people share their experiences and stories, often saying this is the first time they have spoken about how their lives have been touched by mental illness.

Volunteers, families and young people are touched by The Project, and our reputation has extended way beyond our local area. We have been approached by people from across the country to find out if we run a similar service in their area, and we are currently developing a model for replicating and licensing our model.

Our local community are very proud of The Project, and since opening, we have won the Deputy Prime Minister's Mental Health Hero Award for the South West (2015), been shortlisted for MHFA England’s youth award in recognition of the work being done by our organisation to raise mental health literacy (2015); shortlisted for a National Diversity Award (2016) and nominated for the youth award of our local authority to commemorate the Queen’s 90th birthday (2016).

In our first 3 years, we supported over 100 local young people, and a further 60 families. Many of these people received no other support. Testimonies from everyone connected to The Project – volunteers, parents, young people and those who refer into our service – show the impact we are making. By supporting our young people, we are also supporting our wider community.

Project Video

The Project (Action East Devon, formerly EDVSA)

Moment of Pride

The Project is a real grassroots organisation set up by a local mother based on her experience of caring for her daughter through her mental illness. She raised the money to get the group off the ground and has created a well respected, trusted group which has gone on to support so many young people

Location: Devon, United Kingdom