'We are not a swimming group' - The Devon cold water therapy club helping hundreds enjoy the sea

  • Watch Charlotte Gay's report

Members of a cold water therapy group have credited getting in the sea with bringing relief to their mental health.

People who swim with Healthscape CIC say joining the group has helped them cope with PTSD, grief as well as physical pain relief for spinal injuries.

The community interest company was originally founded in Torbay, but after 500 members joined, Healthscape is now expanding their network of cold water immersion groups to Plymouth, Exmouth and soon Teignmouth.

The group also now take referrals from NHS GP surgeries and social prescribers.

Guy Edwards, co-founder of Healthscape, says people should not think them as a sports club.

He said: "We're not a swimming group, we're not saying come and swim around the cruise-ships. We're saying come and get in, get in up to your waist, sit down, enjoy it, have that immersion and then we'll get out again."

Members say they have made a lot of friends through the Healthscape sessions Credit: ITV West Country

The popularity of cold water swimming has really taken off in the past year and for some it's been a lifeline during the pandemic.

Members like Mark Endicott said the company has really helped after he lost his wife four years ago.

"It just helps with my emotions more than anything if I don't I get all tearful."

Getting men talk about their feelings is a big reason why Guy set up Healthscape in the first place, after his wife suffered a miscarriage.

"It was a good six months after that I, not spiralled out of control, but I didn't really care about anything. I moved house just to get away from everything but now I have come out the other side and I can talk about it freely."

Amelia Elvins struggled with anxiety and post-natal depression after a difficult pregnancy so decided to lead the Plymouth branch

She said: "When you have depression it is such an achievement to get in the water and say you've done something today other than sitting around your house feeling anxious."

Outdoor swimming, especially at this time of year, of course comes with a safety warning.

Healthscape hosts training sessions to give people the confidence, as well as the skills, so they do not put themselves at risk.

They also hire out wetsuits and other sea swimming equipment at an affordable rate to encourage anyone to give the group a try.

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