The Devenishgirl Connect programme offers an innovative and creative approach to supporting young women who are not only marginalised as a result of unemployment, lack of skills or qualifications but are also dealing with mental health issues. We have created our programme based on evidence from research, along with over 15 years’ experience of working primarily with young women in local communities within South West Birmingham, which shows that creativity, social connection, volunteering, improved health and fitness, talking to others and learning new skills can each improve our mental health and wellbeing.

A report by the Mental Health Foundation in 2017 showed that the last 15 years has seen an unprecedented rise in reported mental health problems amongst young women and girls. Increasingly, those applying to participate on our training programmes have mental health issues but lack the support and deal with those issues. In response to this, we have developed the Connect programme.

Our pilot Connect programme will launch in the Autumn - and is funded by Big Lottery - and will consist of the follwoing modules:

Creative module – participants will take part in a series of baking classes teaching them to make, bake and decorate Devenishgirl’s ‘shortbread with a story’ range.

Connecting module – consisting of small group workshops and optional small group activities aimed at reducing the sense of isolation whilst developing teamwork skills, listening skills, communication skills, personal development skills and more.

Wellbeing module – participants can undertake at least one of the following: healthy eating cookery course, walking group, activity days, allotment sessions, mindfulness workshops and self- care workshops.

Communicating module – participants can access counselling sessions with Newman Health & Wellbeing, along with a support group. Newman Health & Wellbeing is situated less than 2 miles from where the programme will run and has over 25 counsellors offering child and adult counselling from their facilities in Bartley Green.

Volunteering module – though volunteering on a community allotment, participants will have an opportunity to connect with others, spend time outside, grow community produce and be part of a community network.

Shortbread with a story Enterprise module – participants will undertake a range of practical workshops aimed at enabling them to market, price, promote and sell their own shortbread with a story within a pop-up enterprise.

Through participation in this programme, we will connect women to others, to professionals, to a wide range of collaborative support and to their own story thus enabling each of them to develop the tools needed to support their mental health and wellbeing.

Recruitment for the programme will start in June 2018.



Our Connect shortbread with a story workshops aim to support those with mental health issues through:

  • Teaching skills to create traditional Northern Irish shortbread – including their own flavour and design

  • Enabling them to connect with others

  • Reducing isolation

  • Be supported through hearing others’ stories

We will annouce dates for upcoming workshops in due course.



Since launching in 2014, Devenishgirl has either delivered or co-delivered a range of short term training programmes and workshops for almost 50 marginalised young people aged 16-35. Our training programmes have enabled young people to gain full time employment, undertake work- based training, experience running a pop-up business and develop baking and cookery skills.















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