Guest blog from our new Chair of Trustees- Brett Sentance

Hello, my name is Brett Sentance and I have recently become Chair of Trustees for Write to Freedom. I work in social housing, have managed a number of homeless services and moved to Devon just over 2 years ago. In 2014 I came across Write to Freedom, met with Caspar Walsh and had an instant connection with him. I understood what he was doing with the charity and a few months later, he asked if I would like to be involved, so here I am.

A few months ago, I was asked if I could help out for a couple of days with some of the delivery on the ground. Dartmoor it was then…

Nestled just outside Moretonhampstead is some land owned by Gordon, a Write to Freedom mentor. He teaches archery, amongst other things, and is a very gentle and wise man.

This place was beautiful, peaceful and a great place to work with people.

I was with Gordon and Ben, another mentor and who again is very interesting, wise for his age and very welcoming and supportive.

For 2 days I was immersed in things; helping, observing and being part of what Write to Freedom do. I kind of knew what Write to Freedom did, but I needed to experience it first hand so I can really be a part of it.

The participants arrived along with support staff from a statutory provider and we started the day. I was feeling a mix of anxiety and excitement but looking forward to working with some new people.

Once we’d set up for the day; preparing workspaces and the eating area, setting up an archery space and other areas for activities, we sat down and started the day by sharing how we were feeling about the day and where we were as individuals. After these honest and open introductions we warmed up with some archery. What an amazing way to focus and be centred on what the day will bring. It’s a great start for the young men when they arrive.

There was a difference in what the men experienced here to other approaches I’ve seen.  Planning and talking about how the day is going to go, preparing for any crisis and unplanned events is incredibly beneficial for the participants and staff and something that does not happen that often in support services. Quite unique.

Some of the young men were incredible at archery and gained many skills as the course progressed. I saw young men from difficult backgrounds and chaotic lives really using the archery as a way of being calm and focussed. It blew me away, to be honest.

Archery is only a part of what Write to Freedom does, and throughout the day there was also writing, sharing feelings, cooking healthy and wholesome food, mentoring, being part of a community, and the list goes on.

I felt connected and all who attended felt the same. It was an incredible 2 days and I felt very grateful to be a part of Write to Freedom. I also thank the young men who attended for their brave shares and getting fully involved.