Mentoring Days - a photo blog

Photos from our February and March Mentoring Days on a wintery and snowy Dartmoor.

New Administrator


Hello! I'm Jo, the new administrator for Write to Freedom - I joined the team in December.

I work behind the scenes helping the organisation run smoothly and I'm likely to be the one that answers your emails if you get in touch with us, and other tasks like keeping the website fresh and up to date, writing occasional tweets, managing systems and basic accounts.

I come to this role with a lot of previous experience in supporting the running of small organisations working for positive change. I have a deep love for the outdoors and wild places, and believe in the significance of connection to nature for everyone. It is one of the aspects of Write to Freedom that drew me to join the team, and something that I'm really glad to be supporting.

I have a long love of and heart connection to Dartmoor, having previously lived in south Devon for 15 years – always somewhere close to the river Dart and the last few years on the edges of the open moor. Dartmoor, and especially the wild Dart Valley remains one of my favourite places in the world - I find such a magical energy there, and the continual flow of the river so connecting.

I left Devon 3 years ago to seek some further afield adventures, beginning with a nomadic year and a half that led me to various stunning places around the world, and eventually to Greece, where I now spend a lot of my time. The main work in my life at the moment is as a long term volunteer, working with the refugee community. This part time role with Write to Freedom supports me practically to be able to continue this.

I came here just over 2 years ago, at a time when the arrivals of mainly Syrian refugees by boat from Turkey was at its height. I went to the island of Lesvos to help run a kitchen tent in an unofficial camp there, where we served up to 6000 meals a day as people passed through on their journey into mainland Europe. I expected to stay in Greece for a couple of months, but connecting to the situation very personally, and the massive ongoing need I experienced, I decided to move to Athens to be part of starting a longer term and more sustainable grassroots project. A collective of us set up the Khora Community Centre, offering vital services and solidarity to some of the thousands of people stuck here.

It is one of the most amazing things I have ever been part of – I am constantly challenged, inspired, exhausted and heart-opened by what I experience here. I write occasionally on my blog about my experiences here and the wider context of Athens. Devon always pulls me back every few months for a spell of nature resourcing, and I'm looking forward to attending my first Write to Freedom residential this spring.


Behind the Scenes- How we decide who is offered a place on our residentials.

Write to Freedom are always refining the process of how we select who comes onto each residential. We want to work with those who are in Recovery in the widest sense. Recovery from drugs and alcohol, mental or physical ill health, work addiction, technology addiction, relationship addiction and so on. It’s a wide arena! The most important aspect of our selection process is around whether or not we feel you are ready for the journey you will take with us. We know the process intimately. We care deeply for your well-being and your recovery, wherever you’re at with it. We will ask ourselves if you are resilient enough to go on this journey with us. Are you ready?

The work you step into with us can be challenging, emotionally, mentally and physically. This means that we wouldn’t want you to be overwhelmed by the residential and for your recovery to be negatively affected. We feel there is a right time for everyone. We use our questions, phone calls and our instinct to tell us whether this is the right time for you. This is based on a combined Recovery total of over 100 years between staff and volunteers - past and present. That’s a lot of Recovery miles. We feel we’re in a good place to make a loving decision about what we offer and who to.

It will never be a ‘NO’ to your application. Only a ‘YES’ or a ‘NOT YET’

This not about judging you and your life but about our duty of care to you, and to us. 

If you identify yourself as an addict or alcoholic in abstinence based recovery we will look at how much clean time you have and where you currently are in your recovery. You may have had some time clean, relapsed, and are only recently clean again. We will take any clean time or sobriety you have had into account.

If you don’t identify yourself as an alcoholic or addict and have chosen controlled drinking or using, we will still consider a place for you. Your work with us will hopefully support you to get to the next step in your life.

While we fully support the benefits of abstinence based recovery and the 12 Step programme, we accept that not everyone will choose this path of recovery. Some of our facilitators and volunteers are in abstinence based/12 Step recovery.  We believe that the ultimate way forward with destructive dependency issues of any kind, is complete abstinence.

We view dependency as anything you feel unable to stop and is creating suffering in your life and/or the lives of others. You could be on your way to abstinence based recovery and we may be able to help with that.

We are personally and painfully familiar with the nature of denial in addiction. If we feel you are trying to hold it together, denying the impact of your addiction or simply white knuckling it, we may gently and respectfully challenge you and your approach to your recovery. Ultimately, we will support you to get to the next stage in your recovery journey. That’s at the heart of what we’re about.

We are aware of, and are actively working with Trauma. One or more of our staff will have experience of working with Trauma and will be available to support anyone who feels they need it during the residential (and after). It’s important for us to know in advance any issues you may have with anxiety, depression, mental and/or physical health issues including any trauma you may be aware of. These are serious issues in our society. We believe open communication about our inner struggles is a gateway into our healing process. We are not offering therapy, but the outcome of our residentials is often therapeutic.

We offer regular introductory days. These are to meet us, spend time out in nature and get a sense of whether you are ready to attend a residential. There is no requirement to be at any particular place in your recovery to attend. You will be welcome to come to more than one if we feel that this is the best way forward for your journey with us. They will always be different. They’re a great support for all who attend. Visit our upcoming events page here to find out the next introductory day.

Once you have completed the residential you will be able to attend our monthly mentoring days on Dartmoor. And beyond that, your involvement in Write to Freedom is up to you. You can staff the days or residentials as a volunteer and even train to become a facilitator.

It is truly an amazing journey.

Caspar Walsh and Ben Ford


My Poem

Sush just listen, the thoughts are less my body my mind both feel de-stressed

There's beauty all around the people the place the food and space

How on earth did I get here? It's taken me 3 year

But I've managed I've coped and my god how I've fought

I'm standing here today feet firmly on the ground with thee best team around

I'm starting to look at myself differently I'm starting to feel proud

I'm feeling happy and much calmer I'm beginning to let down my armour

I've got myself here I've earned this I deserve this to be around such beauty such bliss

At such a crucial time Write to Freedom came and now I'm letting go of all the guilt, I'm letting go of all the shame

I feel my heart warming more and more in this magical place here on Dartmoor.

- Natalie H. 
New Horizons, September 2017



Natalie H.jpg

Like This

I want to walk into the next life with my hands free,

carrying nothing extra;

like this.

I want to walk through those realms

without the weight of ancestral grief on my back,

the knots of fear from being abandoned in my belly,

or the ache of sadness from feeling alone in my heart.

I want this soul to go on

unburdened, unmasked, disarmed, healed.

I want to be brave enough to write the next line of this poem.

I want to be able to look at the transparent souls of my grandchildren

and smile,

because I know I did my very best;

like this.

-Rebecca Card


Mentor, Guide & Ceremonialist of Nature based Wisdom

+44 7960 520128


Ghost Dog. The Way of The Samurai.

I first noticed the dog as I gave Sam a hug goodbye. It was some kind of a miniature Doberman Mastiff cross with what looked like some serious anger issues. It had dark eyes, like it had been keeping guard forever and was ready to take my leg off. Was it real? A dog that small and angry? Certainly looked it, sitting defiant on the dash of the beat up 70’s camper van. A double take later I realised it was a plastic guard dog.

The mentoring day on the moors with staff and the new souls to the Tribe was as beautiful and unique as ever. Time by the river. Time by the fire. Time alone. Sharing lunch and sharing where we were all at in our lives. The weather held, just. Eddy got in the water. Sam’s wet shoe melted as it dried by the fire. Becca gave us a few of her softly electric poems. Amanda tended the fire. And we all helped keep it going. The land, the woods, the river worked their magic on us. We each found a piece of something in this wild place to give us peace. A reconnect to the retreat time we spent on the moors. A recharging of the soul batteries, a chlorophylling up! My pace had slowed, my mind cleared, my heart made tender by the company and the familiar wildness of this part of Dartmoor. The breaking of the spell stopped me in my tracks. The impact of the aggressive, no doubt hurting, man was very real. He emerged from his old van, mimicking the face of the angry dog on the dash, demanding that we move away. That we take our care and kindness elsewhere. My response was, as calm as I could muster, that we were in a public car park and maybe he needed to go further into the wild? The door of the van slammed shut.

At the end of each residential we ask the participants to take care as they had back into the world. To be gentle and kind with their hearts. Mindful of those who haven’t shared the same experience. Who may see something different about them and want a piece of it. Or want to wreck it simply because it does not fit with who and how they are. The reconnect days on the moors are equal in power and connection to the residentials. So it follows that this word of caution and protection, as we had back out into the wider world, needs to be repeated after each day we spend together. Much of the world isn’t ready to connect in this way yet. I have no doubt in their hearts they crave it, but their day to day minds and life will want to reject, crush or shout it down. Perhaps because it’s too painful a reminder of what is missing.

 Standing there listening to the angry man demanding we move away from his vehicle and hug somewhere else, was a shock. We try and teach a principle of taking nothing personally. A bold ideal. I’m a sensitive being, and when my heart is open (which is most of the time) and someone is attacking me verbally, it hurts. Part of it is personal and it needs to be stood up to with as much love and calmness as we can find. Our protective, loving shield need to be up or at least ready. Not a blocking of the heart, or a shutting down but a gentle voice offering protection and kindness where and when needed. A gentle steer away from the focus of trouble or confusion to a place of safety.

As I headed home, I was struck by the image of the angry dog on the dash. And what sat behind, lurking and probably hurting, in the dark. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll see the man again, maybe things will be different. For now, I’ll pray for him and continue to take care of my heart on the wilder road.

Dartmoor and Devon 2014 193.JPG