News and Events

Cornwall School Games supporting the Sowenna Appeal 

Cornwall School Games sponsored by the University of Exeter are pleased to announce that our chosen charity for 2019 is The Sowenna Appeal.

Cornwall School Games

The Sowenna Appeal is raising money for the first mental health hospital for children and young people in Cornwall and beyond. There has never been a mental health facility in Cornwall for children and young people so Cornish children are regularly sent to facilities far away.

Cornwall School Games aims to help raise money for the Sowenna Appeal by encouraging children across Cornwall to join the #skipforsowenna challenge. Whether it’s skipping around your school field, skipping with your class or school or
skipping by yourself, get sponsored to #skipforsowenna. 

And to celebrate our partnership with the Sowenna Appeal, we will be doing a mass skip LIVE at the Cornwall School Games on Friday 28 June 2019 with over 4000 people skipping all at the same time!

Physical activity is proven to impact positively on symptoms of depression and other mental illnesses and will form a core component of individual treatment plans.

Research shows that being active can reduce your risk of depression by up to 30%; it can also reduce anxiety and stress, combat low mood and increase self-esteem.

Philippa Patterson, The Sowenna Appeal Director said: We are delighted to be working with Cornwall School Games over the next year. The partnership will help us to raise awareness of Sowenna in
schools across Cornwall and encourage conversation about mental health in young people. We are really looking forward to the Cornwall School Games at the end of June and we will be on hand to talk to competitors, supporters and teachers about The Sowenna Appeal.

If you would like to support The Sowenna Appeal in your school or youth group how about a sponsored skip, or if you prefer a sprint or swim for Sowenna. Any money raised will go towards supporting young people in Cornwall and beyond with mental health.To support The Sowenna Appeal or to find out more visit or email

Rachel Knott, Children, Young People & Education Lead at Cornwall Sports Partnership said: “We are incredibly passionate about the benefits of physical activity and sport on mental and physical health and wellbeing. The Cornwall School Games team are proud to support the Sowenna Appeal so that young people in Cornwall can get the support that they need.”

In 2017 we announced a new partnership with the University of Exeter to inspire more young people to be engaged in physical activity through the School Games.

The University of Exeter, which has two campuses in Cornwall – Penryn and Truro, are sponsoring the Cornwall School Games for three years to enable more young people to be inspired by PE and school sport.

Virtual reality treatment at new CAHMS unit

It has been announced today that Cornwall’s very first Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) unit will feature a sensory room to host innovative virtual reality environments to help young people during periods of emotional distress.

Sowenna VR

Ahead of the NHS Five Year Forward View, the new 14 bed Sowenna unit means that soon children and adolescents will have access to specialist mental health beds in the county. This initiative delivers on NHS England’s commitment to reduce out of area placements for children and young people by increasing bed numbers nationally by 10%.

Virtual reality (VR) is not just being used for gaming. Already studies have shown that VR can be beneficial in helping to treat a whole-host of mental health conditions, including easing phobias, treating post-traumatic stress disorder, helping to lessen paranoia in psychotic disorders and reducing social anxiety.

With young British adolescents having been deemed “extreme internet users”, using technological advances will provide a unique opportunity to engage young people in with their treatment and potentially revolutionise the way in which young people can manage their mental health.

Young people in Sowenna will be offered a choice of guided mindfulness exercises with a member of staff or the use of the VR sensory environment as part of their treatment. They will be able to touch, feel, walk around or even lie down during their five minute long experience, which will be supervised by a clinician at all times.

Patients will be asked to fill in a short questionnaire before about how they are feeling and then again afterwards. The work undertaken will be supported by a research study to determine whether this new method of mindfulness has had a significant improvement in the mental wellbeing of the young person.

The work to develop the VR project is being undertaken by Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CFT) who will be running Sowenna, and Falmouth University who will supply the technical environments. Triangular Pixles of Bude have been appointed build specialists for the VR environments, and Young People Cornwall, who have been instrumental from the start of the Sowenna build, will be co-designing the VR sensory environments and providing the user experience group.

 “The purpose is to use the sensory environments to help young people tackle their mental health issues in a more effective way than ever before. By creating the VR sensory environments, patients are able to experience more calming surroundings to help them deal with the issues that they face. We would expect patient’s heart rates and anxiety levels to be lowered at a faster rate than the traditional time spent in a static sensory environment” commented Dr Liz Myers, CFT’s Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist/Clinical Director of Children's Services.

The sensory room build and VR project will cost £25,000. It has been generously funded by The Invictus Trust, VerseOne and Carew Pole Trust.

To find out more about virtual reality at Sowenna, please watch this video:

Mental health unit to unveil Crowdfunder project at RCS

Find out more about Cornwall’s new and very first child and adolescent mental health unit, Sowenna, at this year’s Royal Cornwall Show in Wadebridge.

Crowdfunder logo

Located at stand 95 and open from 8.30am to 6.30pm this Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the Sowenna Appeal stand will be showing a brand new film about why this unit is vital for the young people of Cornwall; how the public can get involved in fundraising; information on its ground-breaking virtual reality treatment and have staff on-hand to answer questions about Sowenna and the Appeal.

Additionally, on opening day of the show the Sowenna Appeal will be launching a new and exciting Crowdfunding project that members of the public can get involved in.

“Grow Outdoors” will aim to raise £12,000 towards the gardens at Sowenna, including sensory planting, raised beds for therapeutic horticulture, decorative floral and sensory planters, and a giant outdoor blackboard wall for art expression and therapy. 

Raised beds will be part of a young person’s therapeutic journey whilst they stay at Sowenna and will enable young people to plant, nurture and sow herbs, flowers, fruit and vegetables which can then be used for crafting, arts and cookery.

“We will be asking people to make a pledge to support this project and help us to reach our fundraising total for these gardens” commented Philippa Patterson who is the Sowenna Appeal Director.  

Philippa continued: “Sowenna will be opening towards the end of the summer and we need to raise the money to install these raised beds as soon as possible. The public can pledge anything upwards of just £10. A donation of £10 will enable us to purchase an outdoor chalk pack for five young people to use and a donation of £50 will enable us to give a young person a personalised gardening pack for their stay at Sowenna, which would include seeds, gloves and tools”

You can pledge and find out more about Grow Outdoors by visiting

Whilst visiting the Sowenna Appeal stand, members of the public can show their support using its selfie frame and pledge their support by hash-tagging on social media #Sowenna #selfieforSowenna; #SowennaAppeal #mentalhealthawarenessand #Growoutdoors.

The brand new 14 bed Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) unit will be run by Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CFT) at the Bodmin Hospital site.

Since the fundraising appeal launched in September last year, vital funds have been raised to pay for ‘icing on the cake’ items. Funds will enable CFT to provide additional items and specialist areas that will really make a difference to young people’s recovery, health and wellbeing. These include: a minibus; a multipurpose activity barn for team sports and performance arts; parental accommodation to allow families to stay over; a café to allow visits with family and friends; therapeutic gardens, and equipment for music, arts and cooking.

It is hoped that these ‘icing on the cake’ items will transform Sowenna from a high quality centre to the very best in the country.

Sir Tim Smit, who is co-founder of the world-famous Eden Project and ambassador of the Sowenna Appeal commented: “It is essential for us all that we nurture institutions that deliver hugs and a nurturing culture to offer a helping hand to those who have so much yet to give. Most of us know that but for a good roll of the dice it could be us, so, if it helps, think of it as offering a hand to the you that might have been and be very grateful!”

Sowenna Appeal partners with Galliford Try Partnerships

Galliford Try Partnerships is delighted to announce that they have selected Sowenna Appeal as the ‘charity of the year’ for the South West office of the leading regeneration specialist.

The partnership will aim to raise vital funds to support Sowenna in their bid to raise £1.2million to create Sowenna, Cornwall’s first adolescent mental health unit at Bodmin. The funding being sourced will help pay for an activity barn, parental accommodation for families to support their child during admission, a cafe area, therapeutic gardens and equipment for music, arts and cooking.

Galliford Try Partnerships

Barbara Vann, Chair at Cornwall Foundation Trust commented: “We are delighted to announce our charity partnership with Galliford Try and we are looking forward to working with their staff to support their fundraising, everything from golf days to adventure racing.  The support from Galliford Try and their staff will help us to achieve our fundraising goal and most importantly help us to provide the best facilities and care possible for these young people who need it the most.”

Aiming to raise £10,000 across the year, employees from the South West will be taking on a number of challenges and running a variety of events to generate funds for the new hospital.

The partnership with Sowenna highlights Galliford Try Partnerships’ commitment to giving something back and supporting the communities in which we work.

Managing Director for Galliford Try Partnerships South West, Marc Thompson said: “We are thrilled to have partnered with such a fantastic charity and we wholly support the work of Sowenna within the county. We are fully committed to supporting health and wellbeing and so we are delighted to be able to give back and truly make a difference to the young people of Cornwall.

Town councils pledge support to Sowenna, Cornwall’s new mental health unit (Cornwall & Devon Post, 25/01/2019)

A fresh appeal for Cornwall’s first young mental health unit (Pirate FM, 09/01/2019)

Sowenna Centre prepares to open, takes on staff (Cornish Stuff, 08/01/2019)

Cornish charity raising money for world-class children’s mental health facility (Falmouth Packet, 14/12/2018)

Mullion School choir sings at Truro Cathedral carol service which raised more than £1,800 for the Sowenna Appeal (Falmouth Packet, 08/12/2018)

Flash mob for Cornwall’s first young mental health unit (Pirate FM, 10/10/2018)

Heartfelt appeal to kit out Cornwall’s first young mental health unit (Pirate FM, 09/10/2018)

Invictus donate £50,000 to the Sowenna Appeal (Invictus Trust, 27/09/2018)

Cornish Pirates: Sowenna Appeal is club’s charity of the season (Falmouth Packet, 07/09/2018)

Cornwall’s children and teenagers are sent hundreds of miles from home for mental health treatment (Cornwall Live, 06/09/2018)

Work starts on Cornwall’s first mental health unit for children and young people (Pirate FM, 02/05/2018)

Mum-of-three faces 550 mile trip to visit daughter at mental health unit in London (Cornwall Live, 28/03/2018)

Mental health unit for children gets the green light (Pirate FM, 31/03/2017)

Invictus Trust donate £50,000

A donation for £50,000 was presented on Thursday 27 September, by the Invictus Trust towards the Sowenna Appeal. The donation was presented to CFT Chair, Barbara Vann by Steve Cowburn from the Invictus Trust, a charity which aims to support and offer services to local teenagers who are suffering from poor mental health and associated issues at CFT’s Annual Members’ Meeting.

Steve Cowburn Barbara Vann Sowenna donation

“The initial donation by the Invictus Trust will be used to furnish the Invictus Café within the unit and to allow visits with family and friends to happen in a friendly space – the sort of space our son Ben would have enjoyed an espresso. We will also fund a minibus to take young people out of Sowenna to access the local community.

We have had consultations with young people who had been patients in a number of units around the country. They said very clearly that a café where parents and friends could have good coffee was very important. Also trips out of the unit in a minibus would be a great stepping stone back to integrating more fully with their local community.

The contribution will also help to pay towards parental accommodation to allow families to stay over and support their loved ones following admission. We are delighted with all these ways in which the hard-earned money from Invictus supporters can help make the unit the best it can be and a flagship for Cornwallhowever, we remain committed to improving and extending the provision in Cornwall to cover all adolescents up to the age of 25.”

Dr Barbara Vann, Chair at Cornwall Foundation Trust said, “For the children and young people of Cornwall this development is a milestone. CFT has long hoped that this unit could be built and we are delighted to be working with Invictus to achieve the very best provision for our children and young people. Thanks go to all of the people of Cornwall who have contributed to the Invictus fundraising and to our Health partners who are helping us to realise our vision.”

Keep up to date

We’ll be updating this page with images from our build as it progresses so please do come back and visit us again soon to see how it’s going.

Please see the most up to date plans and visuals, as provided by our architects here.


On Saturday 8th September 2018 we held a Drop In Open Day for Sowenna at Carew House on the Bodmin Hospital site. Attendees had the opportunity to see the building on their way in, meet the Architect, Builders, Project and Appeals Teams; plus Clinical Leads, furniture suppliers and Tillery Valley Foods who were providing tasters of the food that could be served on the unit.

On Sunday 2nd September 2018 we commenced our fundraising activities with:

  • Our first collection at the Cornish Pirates’ first match of the season against Doncaster Knights (KO 14:30) during which we raised £607.46
  • Family Fun Day at Bodmin Rugby Club including children’s entertainment, fun fair games, face paint, tombola, raffle and cake stall at which we raised £393.45