An award-winning charity which uses arts-based interventions to help people navigate mental health issues is connecting more people thanks to a new digital connection.

Blackburn-based Arts 2 Heal, which has around 120 members, has been working towards establishing a long-term, sustainable arts programme connecting communities across the region but also globally.

The charity has a base in Tontine Street close to the town centre.

Now the charity can reach out to more people thanks to Opus Broadband which is supplying the organisation with free superfast internet.

The free connection is part of Opus Broadband’s ‘Internet for Everyone’ campaign to donate free broadband to organisations that provide vital services to their community and families who are unable to afford broadband at home.

Arts 2 Heal founder, Banu Adam, said: “Since Covid people have recognised the value of digital technology, especially for people who were isolated as it was often their only form of communication.

“It’s been an eye opener to see the positives to come from having that digital technology, the skills that come with it and its ability to reach people from across the country but internationally too.

“People are connecting, and we’ve had people join us online from Canada, Korea, and France.

"A teacher from Korea was even recording our online sessions to deliver to her students to teach about the therapeutic benefits of art. 

“As a local charity access is key and we want to provide our members a platform to connect, bring them out of isolation, and bring them into a community where they can feel at home. Technology can help us do that.”

She added: “In addition, many of our members can’t afford broadband so when they do come to us they can check their emails, go on their tablets to do work, access vital information and even checking WhatsApp messages and being able to communicate with others, something that we can take for granted.

“Having a digital connection is making a huge difference to us and to our members. It is allowing us to make real changes and breaking down barriers.

“We want to start Digital Creative, which help develop people’s digital skills in a creative way and help them with their confidence and independence.”

A spokesperson for Opus Broadband said: “The work Banu and her team are doing at Arts 2 Heal is shows how you can use creativity through digital to really help people develop new skills, connect with others, and become active members of their community.

“We launched our ‘Internet for Everyone’ campaign to help organisations like Arts 2 Heal as we understand the vital work they are delivering through a reliable internet service.”