‘Pearl was the guiding light behind this project’

Bude Life caught up with Rose Bamford who set up ‘The Pearl Exchange’ in Bude following the death of her teenage daughter.

Within the space of just a few years, Rose who lives in Crackington Haven has faced the personal tragedy of losing her daughter Pearl at the age of 19, after she took her own life.

Recognising that Bude had very little to offer for young people, she wanted to do something about it. Rose told us ‘My daughter Pearl had eating issues and generally struggled to cope with life and there just wasn’t a safety net or any place of support for her. If you meet a friend, where do they go and hangout – there’s nowhere. Everyone has realised during the pandemic this massive need in mental health. Nobody was addressing it for our young people and I simply had to do something.’

It was then that Rose started holding some fundraising dinners so that she could get going with her idea of starting up a project for young people. She said ‘It’s all happened so fast and I didn’t realise how quickly it would all take off. It’s been a steep learning curve and we’ve seen over 70 young people already coming to some of our sessions.’

The Pearl Exchange was set up to improve the lives of 18-30 year olds in the Bude area through creative practices and cultural experiences. They support young adults through counselling and wellbeing activities and facilitate connections that lead to work and life opportunities. Their focus is very much on the creative arts as well as providing a free professional counselling service for mental health support. They also host a number of clubs and collectives including photography, film, book and Jam Nights as well as cold water swimming.

Rose told us ‘Our programme is developing all the time with parent support groups on Tuesdays, hot desk provision for 18-30s on Wednesdays and art days on Fridays. We’re not a drop-in centre, but people need to check our website and book in as our programme changes.’

Rose was humble in her reflection on the quick success of The Pearl Exchange project. She said ‘I hope my daughter Pearl would have loved it. She’s been the guiding light for all of this. What would have got her out of bed, what would have got her out of her room, what would have made her enjoy herself? She would have wanted somewhere safe, cool, vibrant, warm and encouraging.’

Rose has certainly delivered on all those counts and more – and has put The Pearl Exchange firmly on the map. Both the town and our young people have been blessed by her determination to change things for the better in our town.

To find out more on The Pearl Exchange, visit their website at www.thepearlexchange.org.uk or visit their Instagram page.