ShAFF Online - Rachel Ashe, founder of Mental Health Swims

ShAFF Online - SOUP (Sheffield OUtdoor Plungers) presents Rachel Ashe, founder of Mental Health Swims



25 Jan '21 | 8:00pm

ShAFF Online - Owen Hayman of SOUP (Sheffield OUtdoor Plungers) will be talking with Rachel Ashe, founder of Mental Health Swims, about how she is a growing network of informal outdoor swimming groups offering peer-to-peer support across the UK, and transforming lives in the process.

Rachel Ashe



Rachel Ashe is a wild swimmer, artist and eternal optimist. In 2019, she founded Mental Health Swims, a UK based organisation that celebrates the healing power of community and cold water. Back on dry land you’ll find her working with universities, mental health charities and environmental projects to champion kindness as the antidote to mental health stigma.

Rachel studied Fine art painting at Norwich college of Art. Her recent work explores the almost church like presence cold water has in a traumatised person's life. Rachel has written for Mind charity, Therapy today and has recently been interviewed by sporting heads. Rachel lives with mental illness herself and is passionate about social prescribing, empowering patients to find solace in the outdoors and campaigning to end mental illness stigma. You can follow her journey at @littlegreenshootproject


The event is co-hosted by Sheffield OUtdoor Plungers (SOUP) with Owen Hayman at the helm interviewing the speakers. It is one of a series of 4 during Jan and Feb 2021.

Jan 11th - Swimming in Reservoirs and Rivers, with Suzie Wheway and Lance Sagar

Jan 18th - Nick Hayes, author of The Book of Trespass

Jan 25th - Rachel Ashe, founder of Mental Health Swims

Feb 1st - Ed Accura, founder of the Black Swimming Association


Almost everywhere we swim, there are 'No Swimming' signs. Many of the places we swim have almost no known history of swimming. This is an emerging wisdom. One of our core aims is to normalise outdoor free swimming in places where it was once a very eccentric thing to do, if not illegal. Not only do we aim to normalise swimming in the eyes of onlookers, but normalise it with ourselves too. We challenge the doubts within ourselves and aim to answer the questions we have as best we can. Through sharing maps and information, and inviting strangers to swim, break down social and personal barriers. We work towards a time when the invaluable benefits of swimming and dipping in open water are recognised and respected. Come for a swim! There may be cake too.

Owen Hayman


Owen is a swimming access campaigner, living and swimming in the middle of what was once known as “Sheffield Lakeland”, an area dominated by large majestic functioning reservoir lakes. He founded SOUP – Sheffield OUtdoor Plungers, and is a member of the Outdoor Swimming Society campaigning and inland access team. Along with many others in the wider Yorkshire area and beyond, Owen is working to bring swimmers together, to collectively break down mental, social and structural barriers to free outdoor swimming.


The talk will be delivered using Zoom. We recommend that you download the app and install it ready. You will be able to join the meeting via a link in your confirmation email.

The event will not cost you anything to attend, but we will request that you pay what you felt it was worth using this PayPal link.

Donations will be shared between the speakers and ShAFF. Thanks in advance.