A WOMAN who has set up a charity to help people with their mental health through activities like crafting has been awarded a British Empire Medal.

Banu Adam, 46, from Blackburn, has been given the prestigious award in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Banu founded Arts 2 Heal in 2016, and it provides a range of activities and learning sessions to address mental health issues.

She said: "I am extremely honoured with the privilege of being awarded the British Empire Medal.

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"The announcement was completely unexpected and the news hasn't yet sunk in.

“I would like to thank the local community and especially my team at Arts 2 Heal for the overwhelming love and support over the years.”

Banu is also qualified in mental health first aid and works passionately to reduce the stigma of self-harm and mental health.

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Beneficiaries of Arts 2 Heal, which is based in James Street, are supported in a number of ways including one to one support, counselling, IT classes to support day to day tasks such as online utility payments, job searches, applications and benefit claims.

All are encouraged to develop their skills in class sessions, and artists, knitters, crafters, helping heal rifts in communities by promoting tolerance and understanding of mental illness.

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When the pandemic hit, Banu moved all of the activities online to be sure those who benefitted from the sessions were able to still access them during lockdown.

As part of her MA in Arts Health Praxis, she devised a portfolio of innovative art-health based methods, designed to specifically benefit adults who self-harm or have mental health issues such as anxiety, stress and depression.

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A successful application for National Lottery funding enabled them to take premises for five years from which they can offer their support and run projects.

The group has also cultivated relationships with Imams and faith leaders and the gentle non-judgmental approach has resulted in active support from mosques and churches.

The group is diverse in every sense, including age, ethnicity, ability and gender.