News and Events

Invictus Trust donate £100,000 to the Sowenna Appeal

Invictus Trust Cafe Sowenna

The memory of a teenager continues to shine brightly as the charity set up in his name donates £100,000 to support the young people at Sowenna – Cornwall’s first adolescent mental health unit.

The family of Ben Cowburn set up the charity Invictus Trust, to raise funds and awareness for teenage mental health in Cornwall, after the teenager took his life back in 2010.

At the beginning of February, Invictus Trust donated nearly a further £30,000 to the Sowenna Appeal, taking their total contributions to a whopping £100,000.

The charity has supported the development of a mental health unit specifically for adolescents in Cornwall since the very beginning and been the driving force behind making that dream a reality.

Barbara Vann, Chair at Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust commented: “We are delighted to have received a substantial amount of money from the Invictus Trust. Their support throughout this whole journey has been vital in helping to achieve our fundraising goal, and giving the young people in our care the very best support. Thank you to all of the people in Cornwall who have contributed to the Invictus fundraising and those who continue to support Sowenna.”

Steve Cowburn, Invictus Trust Trustee said: “The Invictus Trust is proud to have donated £100,000 to Sowenna, to help add the ‘icing on the cake’ and to help ensure that this world class facility for the young people of Cornwall and their families can continuously improve.

“Following the death of our 18-year-old son in 2010, our family founded the Invictus Trust, campaigning both for the reduction in stigma for adolescent mental health issues and the improvement of services in Cornwall. Since we founded the Anchor Fund, we have financially supported over 20 families a year whose children have been cared for out of Cornwall and often many hundreds of miles away. Now after nine years campaigning with CFT, which has resulted in the opening of Sowenna, we hope that will be the exception and not the norm.

“Our funds have provided a minibus, equipped the café, helped start a virtual reality project, paid for sculpting lessons and equipment, and will now support the music room and offer funds for the ward manager to buy the little extras that will make the young people’s stay more enjoyable. These projects add value over and above the excellent work the staff are doing in a wonderful new building with so many attractive features not found elsewhere in the country – it is truly world class.”

Sculptor, Richard Austin, said: “The discussions we have in each sculpting session show great emotional intelligence, understanding and compassion. This is much more than just playing with clay.”

“We are very proud to have contributed and will continue to do so with our campaign now to extend the care offered to be from 13-25 years in line with the NHS Plan and hopefully to be the first in the country to achieve it,” Steve Cowburn continued.

“We would like to thank our amazing supporters who have raised the funds and the staff and Sowenna Appeal Board for their incredible work and openness to working together for the good of all.”

The £11 million Sowenna, which means ‘success and welfare’ in Cornish, unit opened in September 2019. Sowenna has 14 beds and offers specialist in-patient mental health support for children and adolescents between 13 and 18 years old.

Find out more about Sowenna here and support the appeal at

Sowenna attracts 600 people over four days

At the beginning of September, members of the public, staff, press and supporters toured the facilities at Sowenna to see how their donations have come to fruition.

Communal area

In the week running up to Sowenna admitting its first patient, the doors were opened to the individuals who have donated, raised awareness, held fundraising events and supported the appeal. 

Throughout four open days, over 600 people joined fundraising manger, Stephanie Pomeroy; CFT staff and clinical staff in touring the new unit.

It was a time to celebrate the hard work that has been put in to making the unit a leading-edge facility, and the people that have contributed to making it possible.

Dr. Liz Myers, CAMHS Consultant Psychiatrist for Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust commented: ‘We are thrilled to now have a local unit for Cornish young people so they can stay close to their homes and communities. Young people can stay connected with family and friends. This will enable swifter recovery and hopefully shorten the length of time they need to stay in hospital.’


In less than 12 months, the Sowenna Appeal has raised over £430,000 to go towards the ‘extra’ items that will aid young people’s recovery.

From masquerade balls, to dog shows, to auctions, to climbing Ben Nevis; community fundraising events have contributed massively to the development of Sowenna. So far funds have paid for sensory gardens, a music room, art equipment, family accommodation, plus much more.

Retired senior education leader commented: ‘It’s phenomenal – amazing – a world class facility.  It’s so much bigger than I expected and the care will be able to be so much more holistic with the facilities on offer.  You can see the impact the young people’s input has had on the design. Wonderful that they were encouraged to have a say in the unit.’

Friends of Bodmin Hospital spokesperson commented: ‘Just completely staggered by the size. It’s such a normalized environment – doesn’t feel like any sort of hospital or institution.’

How you can help

£16,220 raised for ‘Grow Outdoors’ Crowdfunder

grow outdoors

In just over three months, 70 supporters recognised the value of therapeutic horticulture, and donated a total of £16,220 to support the ‘Grow Outdoors’ campaign, exceeding the initial target of £12,000.

‘Grow Outdoors’ was launched to raise money to go towards raised beds, sensory planters, and a blackboard wall for outdoor art expression and therapy at Sowenna - Cornwall's first child and adolescent mental health unit. 

Every pledge that was made will enable the young people to plant, nurture and sow herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables. The £4000 beyond the target will help fund more gardening packs so Sowenna staff can keep running horticultural therapy sessions for as long as possible.

Dr Sebastian Rotheray, CAMHS Crisis and Inpatient Consultant, said:

‘The importance of ‘green therapies’ for young people with mental health difficulties is well established. Having a well-developed and nurtured green space at Sowenna will be of a great holistic benefit to the unwell young people receiving treatment at the hospital.’ 

Sowing seeds and tending to plants is a process that not all of us experience, but is something that can have massive benefits to mental wellbeing. Nurturing something bigger than you gives a sense of stability and control.

Having these resources at Sowenna will make a massive difference to young people and their recovery. By nurturing plants, the patients will learn to nurture themselves, and invest in the beauty of their lives – they are planning for a future.

Sowenna opened earlier this month and is now supporting its first patients.

An evening of theatre for Sowenna

Cube Plays for Sowenna

Cube Theatre presents Bike by Jon Welch, Karamazoo by Philip Ridley and Butterbum, J by Benjamin Symes to raise money for Sowenna.

Returning from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, there are three opportunities to see Cube Theatre’s acclaimed shows in Cornwall.

Karamazoo tells Ace’s story. She’s irresistible. Her image is everything and no one – no-one! – ever stands her up…until today.

Butterbum, J is mystery with an edge. It looks at what happens when we hold stuff in and when we let stuff out. Lost boy on a bridge, a hungry talking crow, Old documents float on the river below. A wharf building for sale, a copper sings reggae,The Pope sees murder in the cold light of day…

Bike: Karen’s parents, on Karen:, 17, fearless cycling champion; a sweet natured young lady. Karen’s parents are worried. She won’t come out of her bedroom. Which is odd, given she’s such a go-getter. Odder still is what she’s doing in there…

Friday 13th September

Miners’ and Mechanics’ Institute, St Agnus. 7:30pm.

A double bill of Bike and Karamazoo.

Suggested minimum donation of £10 per ticket.

01872 553870

Wednesday 18th September

The Burrell Theatre, Truro. 7:30pm.

A triple bill evening with Bike, Karamazoo and Butterbum, J.

Tickets are available from the Minack Theatre. Tickets are free but donations will be taken on the night.

Friday 20th September

Tolmen Centre, Constantine. 7:30pm.

A double bill of Bike and Karamazoo.

Tickets £8 – must book in advance.

All proceeds are being donated to the Sowenna Appeal.

Bolingey Barbarians Present Dr Barbara Vann with plaque

Bolingey Barbarians plaque presentation

Members of the Bolingey Barbarians visited Sowenna Friday 6th September. After touring the facilities, Roger Mead, Chairman of Bolingey Barbarians presented Dr Barbara Vann, CFT Chair with a plaque. Their donation of £5,547 has enabled the unit to furnish the gym with exercise equipment – running machine, rowing machine, cross trainer, yoga mats, and Pilate balls.

PE teachers will induct Sowenna staff on the gym equipment so that facilities can be supervised during all hours of the day.

Physical activity has proven to impact positively on mental wellbeing and will form a core component of treatment plans. But Sowenna staff will encourage young people to use the gym outside of education hours as well.

The Sowenna Appeal launched last year to raise funds for the ‘icing on the cake’ items which include:

  • A sports barn, gym, plus fitness and sports equipment
  • Parental accommodation, to allow families to stay over and make admission less unsettling
  • Therapeutic gardens
  • Equipment for music, arts and cooking

These leading-edge facilities will aid the young people in their recovery and hopefully make a difference to their health and wellbeing.

Dr Barbara Vann, CFT Chair commented: “Sowenna is the outcome of much hard work by many people but I would like to thank particularly the young people who have acted as our advisors from the very beginning of this journey; they have worked hard to bring their thoughts to fruition. We all still have much to do but Sowenna makes an outstanding statement about how much we value our young people and their families.”

Vital funds raised by community groups, individuals, local councils, our corporate partners including Galliford Try and Coodes Solicitors, National Lottery, Wooden Spoon, plus many more, have meant that we are able to provide additional and specialist items to make Sowenna a young-person focused unit.

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