Bloom 2021: Exeter’s Online Festival of Mental Health Awareness


Welcome to Bloom: Exeter's Online Festival of Mental Health Awareness. The virtual festival will take place from 10 - 16 May to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week.

Read on to find out more about the online events taking place and different ways you can get involved in creative projects throughout the festival.

Join the Bloom 2021 Facebook event for resources, on-demand activity, and conversations throughout the festival.

Festival Programme

Explore the festival's programme below – featuring contemporary dance, counsellors in conversation, poetry, film, choirs, writing, workshops and more.

The programme is split into Live Events and resources that are Available On Demand Throughout The Festival.

Live Events

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Maddening times: Storytelling workshop

Mon 10 May | 2pm | free

Being locked-down and out of contact, has been a trying and transformative time for all of us. We’ve all been through a shared stressful time, but in our own different ways. Join with us, the Waiting Times project, to share stories of our experiences from this pandemic year. 

Poet harula ladd sits on a piano stool, smiling at the camera holding a notebook.


Mon 10 May | 7pm | £3

Join spoken-word artist Harula Ladd for a session of playing with words, engaging our imaginations and nurturing our individual and collective creativity.

After the storm: big Boys Don't Cry?

Tue 11 May | 10am (then available on demand) | free

After The Storm's founder Verity Hart speaks to Andy Lord about the importance of giving a voice to your 'storm' and the power of sharing your story.

An illustration on a purple background. Three large orange smiling flowers are surrouded by a daisy chain of peach coloured flowers

The Magical Connection: Conversations About Mental Health

Tue 11 May | 11am | free

An hour of humans having a conversation about mental health. A space to listen for each other’s humanity, building a better Exeter, one conversation at the time.

An illustration of two people drawn in peach and orange colours having a conversation. Speech bubbles above them are blooming flowers. The background is bright purple.

Relationships, Education and mental health

Wed 12 May | 3pm | free

Join the Wellcome Centre's Simon Benham-Clarke for a presentation and discussion about relationships, education and mental health. Bring your curious minds!

An illustration shows several red brick houses floating in a starry sky. People are at the window of each house, looking out.

Lockdown blues: the bloom workshop

Thu 13 May | free | 3pm

Have you had the lockdown blues? Join us for an online workshop about connection, catharsis, memory, and shared creativity with Dr Fred Cooper.

A conversation with Jump Fall Fly

Thu 13 May | free | 4.30pm

Our performance programmer Naomi will be hosting a Zoom conversation with Jump Fall Fly’s Lehla and Anthony about Boom – a short film that has been made to inspire connection, conversation, empathy and change in the time of coronavirus.

In illustration of a an open doorway with flowers on either side of it. Through the door is a disco ball. Text reads Well Raver Presents Exeter Bloom Rave . Fri 14 May 5pm-7pm with a link to the well raver facebook page.

Well RaveR: Bloom Online Rave

Fri 14 May | 5pm-7pm | free 

Local mental health advocate Well Raver will be hosting an online virtual rave, brining together music and a discussion of a personal, lived experience of mental health recovery. The rave will be streamed live on their Facebook page.

headshots of poets Liv Torc and Harula Ladd


Fri 14 May | 7PM | free

Join Spork! for an hour of soaring, alluring (and sometimes-silly) spoken-word poetry ft performances from Liv Torc and Harula Ladd plus an open-mic

Performer Lewys Holt stands in front of a projector, wearing a white tshirt and looking at the camera.

Phrases and footnotes

Sat 15 May | £5 | Available all weekend
Live Q&A with performer Lewys Holt: 8pm 

A pair of solo contemporary dance works that fuse text, humour and improvisation to subtly explore our innate needs for connection and fears of loneliness.

An illustration on a bright purple background of a person writing in a peach coloured notebook with an orange flower on he front of it. Text reads 'All's Well'. A cat peeks around the book.

Writing Ourselves Into History: Writing Workshop

Sat 15 May | free | 12.30pm

Join All’s Well for a 90 minute writing workshop which will use real women from the history of Exeter as a starting point for our writing.

an image of choir leader fran andré smiling at the camera with a microphone in the background. Text reads 'Bloom'

Singing For Joy! With Fran André

Sat 15 May | 3pm | free

Join choir leader Fran André for uplifting songs, all taught by ear, and easy and accessible to all.

Available throughout the festival

A painted monkey looks out of a wooden frame.

Bloom Community Exhibition

We are delighted to share a selection of art, photographs, sculpture and sketches created by Exeter Phoenix's creative community during lockdown. Thank you to everyone who got involved to help us spread positivity through art.

An illustration of a hand writing with a pencil. The words are turning into blooming flowers. Words read Get involved. Mental Health Awareness week. Poetry Competition.

Bloom Poetry Competition: Winners

The winners of the Bloom Poetry Competition have been announced. You can read the winning and highly commended poems from this year's competition by following the link below.

An illustration on a bright purple background. A man wears boxing gloves and looks bewlidered as he boxes a storm cloud.

After the storm: big Boys Don't Cry?

After The Storm's founder Verity Hart speaks to Andy Lord about the importance of giving a voice to your 'storm' and the power of sharing your story.

An image of a young man talking to his dad atop a hill in Dartmoor. A laurel at the top left of the image reads 2 Short Nights Best Film 2021

A Walk With Dad (Short Film)

Ryan O'Connor's short film A Walk With Dad won the Best Film Award at our Two Short Nights Film Festival.

The touching 7 minute documentary sees Ryan and his father walk across Dartmoor to visit Ryan's mum's headstone for the first time in 12 years. We highly recommend taking the time to watch this moving documentary about family and the nature of grief.

A black and white photograph of Verity Hart on a purple background

Storm Stories

In a conversation recorded specially for Bloom, Louise talks to Verity Hart about the personal experiences and that led her to found After The Storm. Bloom are proud to partner with After The Storm on this year's festival. Visit their website or Facebook page to find out more about their story and how they can help you through your own storm.

An illustration of a large pink flower. Text reads Exeter Bloom Collection

National Poetry Archive: Exeter Bloom Collection

Visit the National Poetry Archive to peruse a collection of poems was specially selected for Bloom. Poetry has a unique ability to give words to our feelings and emotions, and to act as an emollient in difficult times. This collection features poems chosen for their power to speak to the personal experiences of Bloom festival attendees along the theme of nature and the environment.

A screenshot of a zoom conversation between two women, smiling to each other.

Counsellors In Conversation

In a conversation recorded specially for Bloom, two friends and counsellors – Louise and Jen – reflect on the last year, and talk about working as counsellors throughout the pandemic.

In a warm and considered conversation, Louise and Jen share some thoughts and feelings on the mental health challenges this year has brought, as well as how they have found the year personally. They also share some thoughts on self-care and anxiety around coming out of lockdown.

6 people taking part in a zoom video call

What we feel (mini series)

What We Feel is a thoughtful new mini-series, created by 1623 theatre company and D & O ProductionsBased on real-life experiences, the four short episodes explores identity and mental health and how collective creativity supports the wellbeing of individuals who face prejudice in their everyday lives.

What We Feel was devised by the cast in workshops and co-created with people living with mental health issues with the full support of a trained counsellor and therapist. 

The mini-series is captioned, free and available to watch throughout the festival.

An illustration of daisies on a purple background. Text reads Thank you to festival partners After The Storm

After The Storm

Visit our festival partners After The Storm for advice, support and services to help you through tough times and personal changes.

Text reads The Boom Campaign on a black starry background

BOOM: A Film By Jump Fall FLy

BOOM is the first short film (24 mins) from Jump Fall Fly Productions. The film is all about the mind, mental health, grief & love. The film is available to watch on-demand for free throughout the festival following the link below.

Find out more about the Boom Campaign here >>

Get involved

An illustration of a hand writing with a pencil. The words are turning into blooming flowers.

Bloom Poetry Competition

Free, open to all. Deadline: Fri 7 May

We are delighted to share the first Bloom Poetry Competition. Poems are invited along the theme of nature and the environment. 

An illustration with a person typing on an old fashioned computer that is sprouting flowers. A cat sits on top of the computer.

Virtual Community exhibition

Free, open to all. 

Submissions to the Bloom Virtual Community Exhibition are now invited along the them of nature and the environment. Whether you are an absolute beginner or an experienced artist, help us spread positivity through art.