Emma Barker has a full and happy life. She is busy running one of Budleigh’s popular ice cream café, Granny Gothards, working part time at Boots opticians and preparing for the arrival of her first child.


However, Emma’s life has not always been like this. Living with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a condition that causes joint and mobility issues due to a lack of collagen, and a mental health condition, Emma had previously found it hard to hold down a job and engage socially. After a particularly difficult period, Emma moved back to the area in 2018 to be nearer family and the sea. Being back in Devon also meant that she was able to access cognitive analytical therapy through the NHS to help with her mental health. This was the start of her beginning to turn her life around.

At the same time, Emma also started attending physiotherapy at Seachange to help with her joints. Through this she met the team at the Launchpad café. They invited her to volunteer, supporting their trainees one day a week in the garden. For Emma this made a big difference.


She says “it was brilliant to be able to work with Launchpad and Seachange. Whilst I was still getting back on my feet it was a life saver. I felt safe and I loved working with the trainees in the garden.”

Our garden beds planted by Emma

For Emma, the whole team at Seachange have become like an extended family. “Since the beginning of 2018, everything I have gone through, getting a job, finding a partner, and now starting a family, I have done with Seachange by my side. With the patience and support from Carole and Rob from Launchpad and Marc the Manager, I have developed the confidence I needed to get back out into the world."

“Seachange is an inspiring and comforting place. It is a real community and I feel proud and privileged to be part of it.”


“When you are here at Seachange, people care about your wellbeing and they want to help you. That includes the reception staff, the café, and the managers. It really does make a difference.”

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