For the past six months, a Falkirk and District Association for Mental Health (FDAMH) group has been learning new techniques to enhance their talent and passion for art.
The weekly sessions have been supported by the fire station at Westfield which allowed the group to use its community room.
Now, after months of hard work, the group is ready to show off the fruits of its labour at an exhibition next Thursday.
Emily Stewart, arts co-ordinator with FDAMH, said: “There are a range of different groups that work with the arts including the drama group, media group and FDAMH’s Freedom of Mind choir.
“These groups are all about giving people a time and place to relax while opening up the conversation about mental health in the community.
“We are very lucky to have Linda McFarlane who voluntarily co-ordinates the art group.
“Over the past six months she has led sessions teaching lots of different techniques.
“The group has been exploring different art forms from still life to shading and 3D drawings.
“The students are interested in developing different styles – one for example has produced some incredibly detailed architectural drawings which are beautiful while another has produced some wonderful drawings of animals.
“The sessions focused on the person and what they wanted to do so they could build their own portfolio.
“The feedback we have had has been really positive; people have really enjoyed it.
“Some have never drawn before while others were getting back into it after a long time.
“They have also enjoyed getting together with like-minded people who have an interest in art.
“It’s increased their self-esteem, self-confidence and made them more willing to try something new.”
Art groups and exhibitions have been organised by FDAMH in the past and the group is confident more sessions will held in the future.
Bryan Todd, manager at Falkirk Fire Station, said: “Emily and her group approached us about using our community room as a workspace on a weekly basis.
“We were keen to support their project because we saw it as having a very positive impact on recovery and promoting health and well-being.
“The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is very keen to work with our partners in the community to support activities.
“This is an excellent example of that partnership working.
“It’s been great to see the guys here every week and see the work they have produced which is really impressive.We will continue to support FDAMH with another art session after this exhibition.”
The exhibition comes shortly after the release of FDAMH’s One in 70 report.
The charity’s annual publication revealed it experienced a 13 per cent increase in demand for its services in the past year.
One in 70 people across Falkirk district turned to FDAMH for support between April 2016 and March 2017.
The report also highlighted that the range of services available to people had grown, which included an increased number of activity groups.
Almost 100 people engaged in 3846 hours of activities across 11 different groups last year.
Angela Price, FDAMH general manager, said: “At FDAMH we run several creative groups, including both our art and drama groups and our Freedom of Mind choir.
“There has been a lot of research over the years to show the benefits being creative can have on a person’s mental health and well-being.
“Not only can it provide a creative outlet for negative emotions but it can also offer people a way to work through what they’re feeling in a productive manner.
“We have seen a profound transformation, with people who originally came to FDAMH very anxious taking centre stage in a drama performance or exhibiting their art work for the public.
“This is one of the many rewarding elements of the work we do.”
The art exhibition is free, open to all, and will run at Falkirk Fire Station on Thursday, August 31, from 2pm to 5pm.