THE POWER of being creative to help people heal is being celebrated at an exhibition which is now open in an Okehampton venue.

The Oke Tree Network is a carers network in Okehampton, whose members support people with mental and physical disabilities.

The members of the network work encourage the people they help to be creative, knowing that this can help enrich lives and soothe mental distress.

Vicky Hooper, from the network, said: ‘Being creative can be so beneficial. It is a chance to immerse yourself in your own imagination or escapism in a certain subject. It allows individuals the freedom of self-expression that may not be realised elsewhere. Creativity helps the mind to focus and can aid metal health and wellbeing. It brings people together and can be stimulating and fulfilling.’

‘Many of the people we support do not have access to opportunities to be creative and we wanted to change that. We know that with the right support people can be encouraged to unlock their potential and inspire others.’ Now, the work that the members have created can be seen at Immersion, Okehampton’s virtual reality gaming space on Fore Street in an exhibition running until the end of May. Work has kindly been framed by Okehampton Photo Centre. It is open on weekdays after 3pm and at the weekends. ‘A big thank you must go to Ryan from Immersion and Ricky from the Okehampton Photo Centre for their support,’ said Vicky.

One of the photographers showing her work is Ellie Kay, who is helped by the Oke Tree Network and lives in the Okehampton area.

Photography has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember,’ she said. ‘Getting my first camera one Christmas and having the opportunity to see the world through the lens was an exciting start to my photography journey. Throughout the years I have dipped in and out of the photography world, bouncing through creative processes from painting to drawing to all sorts of arts and crafts. But as time went on, photography is always something I have fallen back into, and in mid-2022 I picked up the camera once again. Since doing this, I have been able to see the world in a whole new light.

She added: ‘Going out into this world armed with my camera and tripod and having the opportunity to show people the landscapes that surround us gives me joy, knowing many people don’t get access to see these sights in person, giving them a snippet of the outdoors pushes me to keep going out, and keep shooting. Admittedly, not every day is easy, leaving the house can be a real struggle, but once I push through the barriers, with camera in hand I get lost in the creative processes, and having that time to connect with nature is something that can often get lost in today’s society. When returning from countless hours in the outdoors, the feeling of accomplishment is overwhelming. Sometimes, you don’t always get a great photo from that day, but often it’s the being in nature that counts.’