YOUNG people are taking to the great outdoors for ‘eco-therapy’ classes to give them more confidence.

The sessions, which are held in Witton Park in Blackburn, are aimed at people battling stress and anxiety, as well as those with a disability or mobility issues.

The classes, which are put on by Lancashire Wildlife Trust and the Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, include sessions on woodwork, growing vegetables, handling wildlife and pottery, as well as sprucing up green spaces.

Project officer Andy Mather, who runs the Myplace scheme, said: “From my previous experience working in formal education I realised its limitations and developed a belief in experiential learning.

“I also realised the extent to which poor mental health is an obstacle to young people and how much the natural world could help them overcome those obstacles and support their improved wellbeing.”

The project is aimed at tackling mental health in young people aged between 13 and 25.

Organisers say the scheme helps to reduce stress and anxiety as well as improving social skills and productivity.

Sophie Eddison joined the group due to mental health reasons, and is now due to become a youth forum representative, helping other young people.

The 20-year-old said: “I was a little nervous when I started, but I started getting used to it after a few weeks.

“I speak more now and I’m more confident and introduce new people to the project.

“It’s not just hard work. The talking really helps, and getting to know one another, having fun making things.

“If people see you having a good time, they’ll want to help and if you’re experiencing mental health, this can really help.”

Sessions take place daily, with several running in different locations across East Lancashire.

A spokesman for Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust added: "By just getting outdoors it can have such a positive impact on both a person’s mental health and physical wellbeing.

"The project is the perfect place for young people to come along, embrace the outdoors, connect with others and boost their own self-esteem."

Witton Park hosts a session every Thursday from 1pm to 3.30pm.