Connecting if you are new to Exeter
Scroll down to find out about which Facebook groups to join, local blogs to follow and where you can learn a new skill, join an organised walk or attend a talk on the history of Exeter. There's no reason to ever be bored again!
Connecting with others in our community is a very human need. It helps us to stay emotionally balanced and able to enjoy life. Social isolation can lead to loneliness and depression and yet it’s perfectly possible to live alone and be happily connected to others. Being connected is not about who you have around you as such, it’s about finding people who share the same interests and who you can talk to about your feelings or how your week is going. Some connections may be deeper than others. It’s good to have a variety of people to interact with.
For many people it’s easy to find new buddies through work or within a child’s school community but when you move to a new city sometimes it takes a while to get a handle on what’s on that you might you enjoy doing.
The majority of the Weekes team are local to Exeter and over the years have joined in with a lot of events and classes! We’ve put our heads together to compile an extensive list of informative websites and annual events to help someone moving to the area join in all the fun. Thank you to Jayne Leaver too, a community builder for St Leonard's for all her great suggestions.
1. Online Connections
If you like to browse the net then these local bloggers are constantly exploring new places to eat, visit, walk or take the children. You can get some great ideas of how to spend a weekend or how to fill a half-term on these.
Blogs we recommend:
Exploring Exeter - Local activities, walks, good cycle rides
Visit Exeter - Upcoming events and information
Muddy Stilettos - Devon mum
The Devon Foodie - Hotel, restaurant and cafe reviews from all over Devon
Tara’s Busy Kitchen - Recipes, family life, Devon life
Newtown Community Association - an active group that organise social cafes, craft and music events and more
The Exeter Coffee Collective
The Exeter Book Club - The group meets once a month usually on a Thursday. https://www.facebook.com/groups/103561409735659/
What’s on Exeter
Mums in Exeter
CEDA - provides opportunities for disabled people of all ages.
Exeter Valley Parks
2. Getting Physical - organised walks and sports clubs
Meet others and explore new places around Exeter and out in the Devonshire countryside whilst getting to know new people at the same time. If you don't have a car you can usually organise a lift before you go. Some groups have age ranges, some take dogs and some involve learning about the environment as you go.
Exeter Green Walks - for a stroll and a chat in Exeter’s green spaces (Details on Facebook)
Devon Wildlife Trust - organise regular educational walks for all ages and interests
Shillingford Farm - diary groups walks around the farm
Exeter Ramblers - a group that meets to walk on Dartmoor etc
Devon Bootlegs (for people aged 20-50) - a social walking group
Exeter Stepping Out (www.walkingforhealth.org.uk/walkfinder/exeter-stepping-out-exeter)
Exeter is a real hub for sport. You can watch top level rugby at Sandy Park and support our local football team at St James Park which had just had a new stand built in the stadium. There are running groups, casual 5 aside football, Korfball, dragon boat racing, volleyball, hockey, walking football and walking netball and those are just the ones we have heard about! Google Exeter and the sport you'd like to try abd you'll probably find a group.
Exeter University - run a whole load of sports clubs and have indoor and outdoor tennis courts you can hire as well as a great outdoor pool (Cornwall House Pool) that is open in the summer and can be used by the public – check website for prices and session times.
Park Run - head to Heavitree Park to join in. No experience required.
Ride On - get a second hand bike or some help fixing yours up using this local initiative
Haven Outdoor Activity Centre - for watersports such as learning to kayak or sail on the river
Quay Climbing Centre - climbing walls and clubs
Freemoovement - free exercise classes in various parks around the city
Couch to 5K groups - get started with running
3. Food for Thought - classes, talks and local history
New skills/fun classes
What do you fancy having a go at? Learning a new language? Pottery, yoga, belly dancing, ukulele lessons? Exeter has it all.
Exeter College (Adult Learning) – From creative writing, an array of languages to woodwork or qualifications in computing or GCSE Maths
The Phoenix – for dance classes, life drawing, baby yoga etc
Maker Maker – Ukulele classes in Magdalen Rd, St Leonard's (beg to advanced level)
Pottery at Unearth in Preston Street - a few minutes walk from the centre of town
Sewing, knitting, crocheting at The Sewing Machine Company in Heavitree Rd or Wool on The Exe Okehampton Street
St Davids Community Centre – all sorts of weekly classes from French to choir to yoga
St Sidwells Community Centre – Lots of environmental/community groups such as The Repair Café sessions where you can take broken items to be fixed or help out if you can sew or mend in any way.
Countess Wear Village Hall
Beacon Heath Community Centre
Wonford Community Centre
Alphington Village Hall and Community Centre
Talks, Events and Local History
If you like to learn about how things work, attend art exhibition openings or find out more about the history of Exeter then this is the place to start your research. There are too many events at any given time to list but if you head to these websites you’ll see what’s on this month in Exeter.
The main websites to check out are:
RAMM – check out the award winning museum for a variety of events
Darts Farm – cookery, health and wellbeing (Events on website)
Exeter Art Show – see the work of local artists and buy affordable art
Gloss Art Gallery – reopens this March 2019 and has great launch evenings – just ask to be added to their list
Phoenix Arts Centre – small venue for gigs, classes, workshops
Exeter Central Library – book group, community building sessions and talks
TEDxExeter – once a year at the Northcott Theatre – inspirational talks on an array of subjects
For more niche historical talks and events google these organisations:
Heavitree Local History Society - monthly talks about details of Exeter’s history
Exeter Civic Society - talks on Exeter’s past and present by local key speakers and opportunities to visit places of historic interest that aren’t open to the public
Devon and Exeter Institution - a hidden gem of a library that used to be an 18th century gentleman's club!
Exeter Canal and Quay Trust Ltd - lists events to be held on Exeter Quayside such as dragon boat racing and live music
Exeter Dissenters Graveyard Trust - a group who meet to protect this rather special historic graveyard and maintain it
Exeter Local History Society - meet 6 times a year for talks on Exeter's history at The Jury's Inn Hotel
The Devonshire Association - talks, excursions and training on all aspects of Devonshire life
The Topsham Society - talks about the history of Topsham including the amazing 17th century merchant buildings there
The National Trust (South West Region) - some fantastic buildings, gardens and stretches of coastline to visit including Killerton House, A la Ronde and Knightshayes
There are a lot of choirs and music groups. Here's just a few to whet your appetite...
Exeter Ukuelele Group - Northernhay St
Heavitree Strummers - Horse and Groom, Fore St, Heavitree
Newtown Roots Band
Exeter Folk Club
The Big Noise Chorus
4. Broadening your horizons with local festivals and social groups
Exeter and Devon have a fantastic range of vibrant annual festivals and fairs that are well worth checking out. Or why not join a group to meet likeminded people. Whether you are new mum, recently retired or looking for love there are other people in Exeter in the same position.
The best local festivals
Exeter Animated - a chance to get involved in some animation/film/writing projects
The Respect Festival 8th/9th June 2019 - a celebration of world cultures
Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink - lots of yummy tasters for foodies
Exeter Pride - celebrating the diversity of the LGBT community
St Thomas Festival - local family fun
Devon County Show - local food and produce, farming, displays, animal competitions and crafts
Diwali (Hindu Festival of Lights) at Exeter University in the autumn -stalls, craft, food, dance, talks and fireworks
Magdalen Road Christmas Fair - mulled wine and local food and crafts
Exeter Cathedral Christmas Market - handmade gifts, food from around the world
Chinese New Year at Exeter University in February - stalls, craft, food, dance, talks and fireworks
Further afield but still in Devon:
Chagstock 19th-20th July 2019
Sidmouth Folk Festival 2nd – 9th August 2019
Beautiful Days (organised by The Levellers) 16th-18th August 2019
Men in Sheds
Baby and Toddler Groups
Now there are a lot of groups for babies and toddlers in Exeter. Way too many to list. There's baby yoga, toddler tennis, music with mummy, singalong at the library, water babies etc. You get the idea. For an extensive look check out this site below.
For singles looking for love and people seeking good company/new friends. Why not join your local community association to meet neighbours and people in your area?
Pi Society organises regular events including diverse activities such as cookery evenings, Picnics at polo matches and Dartmoor walks.
Meet Up – less focus on dating and more for people who just want to hang out and do fun stuff in a group.
U3A – a group that helps people link to others with similar interests to form clubs and events.
S.P.A. A friendship group for single active people over 40
5. Time on your hands? Why not volunteer?
Helping others makes you feel good too and is another opportunity to meet people during the week. Opportunities are often advertised in the local paper but here are some ideas of places you can look...
Devon Wildlife Trust - from bat surveys to pond dipping and all manner in between https://www.devonwildlifetrust.org/volunteering-opportunities
The National Trust - in the cafe, the garden, the exhibits, as guides or in the office
Force Charity Shop - one of the best loved charity shops in Exeter.
Age UK - offering conversation and activities for older people https://www.ageuk.org.uk/exeter/get-involved/volunteering/
Exeter Foodbank - collecting food donations, working in the warehouse or at the Foodbank Centre https://exeter.foodbank.org.uk/give-help/volunteer/
The Central Library, Royal Albert Memorial Museum and R,D &E Hospital also look for regular volunteers.