Home » News & Events » REPORT on North Tawton Community Wellbeing event, Monday 11 July 2022

REPORT on North Tawton Community Wellbeing event, Monday 11 July 2022

As part of Wis£rmoney’s ‘Transitions’ Project, West Devon CVS together with Navigate CIO ran a Community Wellbeing event at North Tawton Town Hall, 2 – 5 pm on Monday 11 July 2022. This was a chance for everyone in the community to come along and gather useful information and support from a wide variety of agencies and groups, to enjoy some entertainments and free refreshments in a vibrant and friendly atmosphere.

Our Aims:

  • To give people the chance to find out more about their local community groups and services
  • To share information about where to go for advice
  • To inspire people to take up new opportunities and make new friends
  • To give people the chance to talk to their local council representative
  • To provide networking opportunities to local organisations and services

The event was held in the North Tawton Town Hall with Covid and generic risk assessments in place. It is our thirteenth event since January 2018 and was the seventh community event we have organised as easing of Covid restrictions has allowed. The event was opened for us by Devon County Councillor James McInnes.

1. Changes to our approach

As there are no mandatory rules under current Covid regulations, we asked people to exercise responsible choices. We also assessed the safety of the space. The main entrance door to the building was kept open to ensure a flow of air through the space, as were fire doors in the hall. The hall has very high ceilings to help ventilate the space, and we observed a 1m distance between stallholders. Refreshments were provided in disposable/recyclable cups and snacks were individually wrapped. We ensured all tables were cleaned appropriately before and after use.

  • Covid risk assessment on venue/event
  • Hand gel throughout; face masks made available
  • Revised refreshment provision

2. Summary figures

106 people were involved in the event, including

18 stalls

19 organisations represented

79 members of the public (including students)

‘Wings’, part of the North Tawton Primary School’s recent HOPE Project. This is a wellbeing project across local schools.

3. North Tawton

North Tawton is an old market town of c. 2000 people, on the edges of West Devon.  It has a busy central area containing a pharmacy, a small supermarket, a post office, and a large number of other independent shops and services. Other facilities are the Doctor’s Surgery (a satellite of the surgery in the nearby village of Bow), Primary School, Town Hall and Community Centre (both used for local groups. Public transport services consist of a bus on a through route between Exeter and Barnstaple, and there is also a bus to Okehampton. There are three large local employers in haulage, pet foods and cheese making.

People raised concerns about the number of cars and the lack of parking. There was an appreciation of local shops and services. People commented that the effects of the pandemic were still being felt and that the impact on community services being offered was still significant. There was an observation that people needed to relearn what was available to them, and regain their confidence in coming forward to participate.

3.  How well did it work: Stallholder evaluation:

This highlighted a number of positives from the event.

Comments included:

  • “Learnt about other services that compliment our work.”
  • “A very good event for networking which is always so important.
  • “We have met with many groups where future partnerships may be viable.”
  • “Allowed me to build on connections.”

There were some observations that more members of the public might have attended had the event been in the evening, and also comments around how the event could have been differently publicised.

Out of the stallholders’ evaluations –

83% felt they had expanded on their knowledge of other services available

100% felt encouraged to engage with other services as a result

100% felt they had useful exchanges with members of the public.

Stallholders attended from across a mix of organisations, both in terms of geography and scope. Some were local to North Tawton, with others having a wider geographical area. A local employer was represented, as were community facilities within the town. A variety of services was represented.

4. How well did it work – public evaluation:

“I will be passing on information.”

“Help for everyone!”

“I have learnt that not all stuff gets flushed down the loo.”

“Learned about the sugar and salt content in food.”

People commented on how positive the atmosphere was in the hall, and many people singled out the presence of the primary school as being a huge contribution to this. There was an enjoyment of opportunities to taste local cheeses, and also to taste test differing brands of the same goods to investigate value for money. Many of the children really enjoyed visiting other stalls; especially the game provided by South West Water and making badges with Learn Devon.

5.  Participants


South West WaterDartmoor Railway Association
Tamar Energy CommunityFarming Community Network
Wellbeing Walks OkehamptonNorth Tawton Community Centre
One Small StepNorth Tawton Repair Cafe
Action for Children West DevonANTs Actors of North Tawton Society
Arla FoodsOkehampton Walking Football
North Tawton Primary SchoolLearn Devon
Stroke AssociationGirl Guiding North Tawton
The Filo Project 

6.  Learning

We felt that we offered a range of stalls for people to peruse, which was a view supported by the public and stallholders alike. Stallholders did valuable networking. People who attended engaged with stallholders, and information was taken away to share with others. The weather was astonishingly hot, and undoubtably deterred people from attending to some extent; as did the resurgence of Covid infections locally.
Public footfall could have been higher, and we shared thoughts around this with participants. Some people thought there should have been less online reliance in advertising; some felt more. Some people felt an evening event would work better. Interestingly, although we approached the local community magazine ‘Roundabout’, which also goes to outlying villages, they did not include our information. Posters were put up in the neighbouring villages of Bondleigh, Bow, Sampford Courtenay and Zeal Monachorum as well as on local council notice boards and throughout shops and cafes in the town. Information was put onto the town website and some Facebook advertising also took place. The Okehampton Times newspaper also publicised the event for us. Experience of running other community events seems to show that an evening event does not boost numbers of the public attending, but does prove more difficult for potential stallholders, so it would seem better to hold events during the daytime.
A real success of this event was the attendance of the Primary School. This has been something we always value when we put on an event, but has fallen away during Covid. A real positive in North Tawton was that students not only attended, but also engaged with different stalls. They were happy to share their views and learn new things as they went along.
Overall, it feels like people are still very appreciative of our formula for community events. If anything, although public footfall has lessened with Covid, the need for the events to take place seems greater than ever. Discussions with more than one stallholder covered the rise in local suicides and this is a particular concern to every rural community in the face of the current uncertainties in agriculture combined with the cost of living crisis.
We would like to thank Councillor James McInnes who kindly agreed to open the event for us and stayed to engage with the public and stallholders. We also appreciate the attendance of all those who put stalls together. We would like to particularly thank both staff and students of North Tawton Primary School for being so curious, interested and talented. Their display of work was impressive. Their choir, only formed five weeks ago, was hugely enjoyed and appreciated by all present.
We were very grateful to the North Tawton Town Hall for allowing us to put on our event and provide a chance to visit beforehand. We felt we created an event that generated a sense of energy, and positive experiences for those that attended, and as such, fulfilled our aims.
For more information, please contact
Julie Matthews  julie@navigatecharity.org.uk
Or Billie Burnett  volunteering@westdevoncvs.org.uk

‘Transitions’ is a National Lottery funded project operating over West Devon and Torridge, now in its sixth year. It offers free debt and money advice to people who are isolated by circumstance or geography. It seeks to boost community resilience by hosting community wellbeing events across rural communities in partnership with  West Devon CVS.