About Us

We are a voluntary and community sector service funded by Exeter City Council, providing support and advice to help community groups in Exeter.

How we can help...

Our mission is to provide free, independent, professional and practical support to existing and new community organisations in the city to help them develop and become self-sustaining.  

Our vision is for Exeter to be a place where residents, community groups and organisations can grow and thrive in order to make a difference to their lives and the lives of their communities.

We can support you with any query relating to the development of your organisation including:

  • Starting up
  • Funding
  • Development and training
  • Financial and governance structures
  • Working with volunteers

We aim to…

Our work is driven by local people and their ideas. An asset-based community development approach underpins this work, starting by looking at what’s strong, not what’s wrong.

We aim to encourage grassroots action, to help groups find ways to be self-sustaining, and to create an environment where local groups and organisations feel that their vision is realistic and achievable.

Our hope is that residents and community groups are empowered to build on their ideas and feel a sense of ownership in their communities. We can also work with you to enable greater engagement and participation in local decision making.
“Exeter Connect have taken time to support us to grow from a notforprofit group into a community interest company. They have provided professional guidance and given us clear direction to better support Wood for Good Exeter CIC and the community to thrive.”

– Tony, Wood For Good Exeter CIC

Who are we?

Meet the Exeter Connect team and find out a bit about us below. 

If you have an idea that you would like to discuss, we would love to hear from you!

Dawn Eckhart - Development Worker​

I have had the pleasure of working as a development advice worker with Devon communities for over two decades: the passion, commitment and innovation that ordinary people come up with because they want to make the world a better place never ceases to amaze and motivate me.

I started my career in the field of environmental conservation but this naturally led to a passion for engaging people and communities as the best way of conserving our planet for us and other species – my mantra is “Think Global, Act Local”. I am keen to hear from any individuals or groups who want to make a difference and could do with some friendly professional advice from someone who has a lot of experience in the field.

I now live out in the sticks about 10 miles from Exeter with a menagerie of animals, but I lived for many happy years in St Thomas in Exeter and still think of the city as my 2nd home. I spend most of my time when not working exploring the coast and countryside with my doodle Louie, turning my garden into a wildlife sanctuary and eating cake.

Johanna Korndorfer - Development Worker​

Hello, I’m Johanna Korndorfer and pleased to be part of the Community Development Worker team. I’ve lived in Exeter for over 20 years and raised my children here.

I’m keen to support the diversity, creativity and resilience of our communities. It’s what makes our city vibrant and a great place to live. I’m also interested in ways we can tackle climate change and reach our goal for a carbon neutral City by 2030.

In past volunteer and paid roles, I’ve worked on all types of projects from early years’ initiatives, play and environmental projects, to community development using the arts and heritage.

Hannah Potter - Team Administrator​

Hello, I’m Hannah Potter (no relation to the boy wizard!). I’m the team administrator and it is usually me on the other end of the screen on our Facebook and Twitter!

I first came to Exeter for university in 2015 and after a couple of years away, I have really enjoyed having the chance to find out more about all the ideas and activity going on in the community.

It’s been great to be able to able to get back to exploring the local countryside and beaches, interspersed with a lot of baking, crafting and binge-watching shows on Netflix!

Kerry Shakesheave - Service Manager​


My name is Kerry Shakesheave and share the role of Service Manager for Exeter Connect together with my professional “other half” Ellie Barnes.

I am excited to be part of a new service and very much enjoying meeting both residents and professionals alike as we start to get to know our city better and look for opportunities to support the growth of its communities.

Personally, I am a mum to 2 young girls and I enjoy the chaos and fun that this brings! I am a keen baker, often trying to replicate “Bake Off” recipes with varying degrees of success and love to sew when I get the chance. Before children I had a fantastic allotment but have had to scale it back to garden veggies in recent years.

I love Devon life – exploring the beaches and moors and enjoy being outdoors as much as possible. I am really looking forward to the return of gigs and festivals once Covid has left us and being able to dance with my friends again.

Ellie Barnes - Service Manager

Hello, I am Ellie Barnes, one half of the Service Manager for Exeter Connect. I job share the role with Kerry Shakesheave.

Having lived in Exeter for 10 years now, I was really excited to take on a role that focuses on the city and supporting community action. We hear about so many different ideas, initiatives and successes and work with people who are driven to take part in or improve their community – it is really good for the soul!

I enjoy all things Devon – cycling or walking in the countryside and spending time at the coast, as well as getting lost in a good book and of course being part of my local Heavitree community.

Community Building

Our Development Workers work closely alongside the Exeter Community Builders. The Community Builders work at a neighbourhood level to build confident, more connected communities by identifying and mapping community assets, listening to residents and improving links between local people and organisations. If you haven’t already been in touch with your Community Builder.