A COUNSELLOR has started a free drop-in sewing class to improve people’s mental health.

Shirley Heckles, who won the Oxfordshire High Sheriff’s Award in 2011 for counselling teenagers, is now hoping to help older people.

Her idea is to get people to try something new and make new friends to boost their confidence.

Mrs Heckles, 48, from Botley, said: “If you are feeling a bit low or you imagine that people think you’re not very nice or you’re not very assertive, it is there to improve your mental wellbeing.”

Mrs Heckles trained in cognitive behavioural therapy and has worked as a counsellor in Oxford for 10 years.

She now volunteers for mental health charity Oxfordshire Mind, and the new class, Mend@mind, will be run at the charity’s Abingdon base on Wednesday afternoons from 1.30 to 4pm.

Mend@Mind, which starts on Wednesday, will offer various creative opportunities including embroidery, beading, fusing and image transfer.

There will also be the opportunity to use sewing machines for techniques such as patchwork and making small items.

For more information, call 01235 522096.

Picture: OX59473 Damian Halliwell