A NORTON-based mental health charity are looking to expand their workshops into rural areas of Ryedale.

In a bid to tackle loneliness, Next Steps are inviting residents to participate in traditional craft sessions - such as weaving, stitching and paper-designing.

People can choose any activity they want, including having a chat over a slice of cake.

Helen Clark, the Rural Initiatives and Transport Co-ordinator at Next Steps, said: “Research has shown that creativity mediates the mind towards positive thinking by having a repetitive activity; it releases people from day-to-day negative thoughts and inspires a sense of achievement by creating something beautiful.”

“By inviting people to come along or even having a say in what activities we do, it gives everyone an opportunity to enjoy some self-care.”

“We do not have to stick with craft-making, if you want to try something different in your village then I would love to hear from you!”

Next Steps was created in 2001 to help people with mental health problems, wellbeing issues and preventing loneliness in Ryedale.

The organisation works closely with GP’s and community mental health teams to ensure everyone is supported by providing drop-in sessions and outreach groups.

Helen added: “Mental health is a huge problem not only in Ryedale, but nationally.”

”People still seem uncomfortable with the idea of ‘my head does not feel right’ and voicing that to someone – we look after our physical health, so why not our mental health?”

“Residents in rural Ryedale are the hardest to reach; they may feel isolated, have no company or unsure on how to create a group in their village, but we are here to help everyone.”

“The hardest thing in the world is taking that first step, but once you have made even one friend, everything is worthwhile.”

For more details about setting up a group in your village, ring Helen Clark on 07952 990433 or visit https://www.facebook.com/nextstepsryedale.