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Community Development

TCDS Totnes Community

Unlocking local potential

Land Development

Golden Iris at the Elmhirst Building

Over the last two years a dedicated group of young people have been working locally to provide creative spaces for themselves and other vulnerable people in the community. They are concerned by the increasing challenges they see around mental health which as they say “remain invisible to most”. This February they are aiming to re-open the Elmhirst Building on Ashburton Road to be the home for their on-going work. They are asking individuals and businesses across the community to support their efforts.

In 2017 six 15 and 16 year old’s established the Golden Iris Festival. They know that through creative spaces we can break down barriers and bring people together. They see this as a way to enable people with different experiences to work together, with creative performance as a means to challenge perceptions of young people and demonstrate a whole range of diversity.


Want to join-in with Golden Iris and use the space at the Elmhirst Centre?

A form has been put together to enable collaboration through the Elmhirst Building; to establish where there are other activities within the community, already underway or planned, that can support the Golden Iris team in opening up the building for the benefit of young people and other vulnerable individuals in the community, and make best use of the space in line with the vision of the Golden Iris team.

If you have an activity to run at the Elmhirst Building you can book space here. Not yet visited? Please do email us to arrange a time to see the rooms and meet some of the people already using and volunteering through Elmhirst Building before you book.

The initial Golden Iris festival in 2017 proved the case for a more permanent home for this work. The festival involved over 1,500 people, with over 78  young people alone volunteering on and off stage. It was a space for local talent to start to flourish and challenge perceptions about young people in Totnes.

The Golden Iris Festival opened with a circus themed fashion show on Friday 6th October in the centre of Totnes. Professional designers, students, and up and coming designers were invited to show  pieces and work together in launching this debut festival in their own unique way.

On the Saturday there was an open air music festival based upon live music with artists performing on two outdoor stages (main stage and acoustic stage), and talks and workshops (focusing on mental health and well-being and inclusion). Artists on the main stage included Two Sixty Six, Gypsy Unit, Rob Smith, Dizraeli and Gypsy Hill. The acoustic stage was dedicated to up and coming local talent. Young musicians or those starting out were given support to help them take to the stage alongside the national artists.

Here is what people said about the Golden Iris Festival:

“The Golden Iris festival, all thanks to a group of young students from the local secondary school, reminded a lot of older visitors how exciting and alive they can still feel.” Festival crew member

“…people don’t realise also that so many people with mental health issues are told it’s just a phase when it’s not, I just thought it was so thoughtful of you guys to raise awareness for it as it is a serious issue.” Golden Iris participant, 15 years old

“…we have done rather a lot of these types of events this summer (with our other artists as well in many different countries) and I can truly say that it would be great if everyone ran such a well organised show. Most importantly it was lovely to meet and work with such a lovely group of young people. So you got so much so very right which for a first festival in a new place is no small achievement.” International music producer

The Golden Iris at the Elmhirst Building

The Elmhirst Building on Ashburton road is being renovated by young people and others in the community that want to support their vision. The doors opened on the 18th February for a week of intensive work, skills sharing, training and volunteering to celebrate the start of a transformation that will take several months. The young people leading this work (all between the ages of 15 and 18) say that:

Our main aim for developing the Elmhirst Building is supplying the community and young people a safe, yet inviting place for people with all types of interests to come and get involved with either supporting something they are doing, or getting young people involved with something new or developing new skills. This idea stemmed from the lack of safe and inviting places for young people in the Totnes community; resulting in many young people not being able to discover or practise a talent in a place where nobody is judged and everyone is included and safe. We, as a team feel this is exactly what the Totnes community needs in order to open new opportunities for every young person.

If you have an activity to run at the Elmhirst Building you can book space here. Not yet visited? Please do email us to arrange a time to see the rooms and meet some of the people already using and volunteering through Elmhirst Building before you book.