Posted: 07.10.19 at 16:49 by Hannah Corfield
Open Arms East Devon is a Honiton based organisation that works with people with mental health illness in the region.
Just recently founder of the support group, Garry Wakeham, discovered that he had been selected as a finalist for the Community Leader of The Year award in the national Groundwork Charity’s Community Awards.
Garry is one of of three nominees for the award and will be attending a ceremony on November 21 2019 at the Royal Horseguard Hotel in London.
Added to that, it has just been announced that Open Arms East Devon is also a contester for The People's Choice Award. To vote for Garry, click the red button below.
The charity, which has been running for three years now, was set up by Garry Wakeham who has suffered from depression for most of his life.
After his son passed away in July 2015, he struggled to cope alone and was admitted to a mental health hospital for treatment. He ended up homeless as a result of a breakdown 2016.
When Garry found out that the mental health facility that he relied on for support was closing down, he saw how distressed people who used the facility where.
For some, the facility was the only contact and interaction that they had with the outside world. It was also the only respite some parents had from looking after their adult children.
Speaking about the nomination, Garry said: “It’s amazing to be recognised for something you started up as a lifeline for people who need help.
"I hope this will bring more attention to the issues surrounding mental health and the struggles people have within East Devon.
"Open Arms has grown so much - we hope to use this to get some sponsorship and funding to enable us to keep this voluntary, free service going.
"To be recognised nationally shows the great work that everyone behind the scene does at Open Arms and a third place would be a great achievement.
“I have seen how Open Arms has changed people’s lives - people have grown in confidence and now enjoy meeting with others.
"Being able to relax and learn new skills, or even help others develop their skills, is really beneficial.
"People tell me that they are doing things they have not done in years and I have often been told that Open Arms is their safe place.”
Open Arms East Devon is located in Dunning Court Community Centre and runs on Tuesdays and Fridays from 10.30am till 4pm.