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"Help is there for women, like me, who are struggling"

Facilitators Sally Simpson and Antoinette Ede (right)

A woman from Devon says a volunteer-run mental health support group for women saved her life and wants others to know that help is out there.

Antoinette Ede, 51, has spoken out to share her story - which includes growing up in care and finally tracing her mother before she was murdered abroad.

She says the support offered at the Newton Abbot-based Women's Wellbeing Club helped her though 'dark times'.

The club opened in April last year and can see between 15 and 25 people a session.

They are open on a Tuesday between 7pm-9pm at the Salvation Army, 30-32 Union Street and there is no need to book.

Ms Ede, who is now a facilitator, said: "As soon as you speak you offload. As soon as you have got it out there it's gone, the pressure is gone.

"You're not feeling like you're being pushed down because you carry such a big burden on your shoulders and soon as you speak you almost feel free.

Click play to hear Facilitator Antoinette Ede

"We're not counsellors but we can advise and we can help through our own traumas in life and that helps somebody else. 

"Then when you see someone smile or they come out themselves, that's better than anything isn't it? To see someone struggling and then shining."

The women's club is based on the same concept as Andy's Man Club which last year won a Breeze South Devon Local Heroes award where facilitators are on hand to listen to stories.

Andy's Man Club was started following the death of a man called Andy who it's believed may still be alive today if he had someone to talk to.

The Newton Abbot Women's Wellbeing Club started after volunteers saw the success of the man's club in Devon and decided to start something similar locally.

Those who attend do not need to speak and some spend weeks 'at the back'. Facilitators say there is 'no pressure' and 'no judging' at the sessions.

Facilitator Sally Simpson said: "Sometimes you don't want to talk to parents or you might not want to talk to family or friends because you don't necessarily want people to tell you what to do.

"But actually being able to just say 'this is how I'm feeling' and getting that out there is is really empowering for people."

She said people can share a wide range of concerns - which remain confidential.

Adding: "Anything from relationships with partners or historic issues.

"We've got people who are struggling after having babies. "We have a whole a whole range from 19 right up to people in their 80s."

For more details about Newton Abbot Women's Wellbeing Club click here

Click play to hear facilitator Sally Simpson

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