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This week I was able to join one of my clients for her first session attending the HOPE course. Most people who arrived admitted to feeling nervous about what the morning would bring and also about being in a room with strangers. However, after being invited to share a little bit of information about why they were there, I was so impressed to hear the raw honesty and insight that everyone attending was able to bring. We heard some sad stories, there were tears alongside laughter but what really shone through from the outset was the empathy emanating from everyone in the room.

We all took the time to listen to one another, which meant everyone there felt they could be honest and open. Several people commented on how they never talk about their problems and keep them hidden, relying instead on small talk or withdrawing from others. During the course of the morning as well as getting to know one another, we learnt about gratitude and how important it is to recognise what we really value in our lives. We all sat and practiced diaphragmatic breathing, which helped to calm racing heartbeats and shallow breaths, and we set achievable goals to obtain ready for the next session.

Included in the mornings handouts were several letters from the previous HOPE cohorts, all sharing the same encouraging message. This is a segment of one of the letters included:

“On the first day of the HOPE course, I was terrified. I didn’t want to get out of bed! The thought of sitting in a room full of strangers filled me with dread! Fortunately, I had booked a taxi to get to the course, so I made it as planned, but I entered the building feeling very anxious…to be given an incredibly warm welcome by Teresa and her team. A very welcome cup of tea was put in front of me as other people – doubtless as nervous as I was – continued to arrive.

You may be reading this and feeling a bit shy and nervous too, but I can honestly say that as we introduced ourselves and shared our stories in a non-judgmental environment, we began to bond as a group and by the time we paused for a break and another cuppa we were getting along like a house on fire!

As I write this now before the final session, I feel very sad that the course is coming to an end – it’s been such a great few weeks. But I also feel gratitude for the things I have learned and the friends I have made – we are all going to stay in touch after the course has finished!

Thanks to the HOPE course I have gained so much. I feel more confident about myself and my abilities. I also feel more hopeful about the future after some very difficult times. I can’t thank the people who invented this super course enough and feel privileged to have been given an opportunity to be part of it – and I am so happy you have this opportunity too!’

I am sure these words of encouragement were reassuring for all those who attended and by the end of the first session, there were many more smiles than anxious faces and the empowerment that comes from being truly listened to, became evident in all who were there.

If you or someone you know would like to take part in the next HOPE course we will be running or would benefit from working with one of our wellbeing coordinators then please call the office on 01626 771695 between the hours of 10-3. Alternatively feel free to email us on


"I moved to Shaldon and didn't really know anyone. I read about Volunteering in Health in the local paper and thought it would be a good way to meet new people as well as getting involved with and helping my new community. I was right!"

Pauline, Trim Teign Project

"After retiring I wanted to be able to give something back to the community. I really enjoy getting to know all the clients and I'm glad to be able to support them with getting to their appointments safely."

Pete, Volunteer Driver

"I often travel to London to visit my family so I needed a voluntary opportunity that was really flexible. Sue and I have now become great friends and we have a lovely time together."

Basia, Volunteer Befriender

"My befriender is an incredible lady and has made such a happy difference to my life. She has not only become a dear friend but she is also my music teacher (piano) and scrabble partner (she always wins!) and above all she is always consistent and cheery!"


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Volunteering in Health, Teignmouth Hospital, Mill Lane, Teignmouth TQ14 9BQ

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