Two Blackpool women with ‘invisible illnesses’ have launched Creative Therapy Concepts to promote stress awareness and help people get back into work

Teresa Smith and Hazel Tyldesley have set up Creative Therapy Concepts
Teresa Smith and Hazel Tyldesley have set up Creative Therapy Concepts
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Friends Hazel Tyldesley and Teresa Smith launched Creative Therapy Concepts in May, which offers creative workshops to promote positivity and teach a skill to aid participants in their future goals.

Friends Hazel Tyldesley and Teresa Smith launched Creative Therapy Concepts in May, which offers creative workshops to promote positivity and teach a skill to aid participants in their future goals. After just a few months, the not-for-profit organisation has now been awarded a National Lottery grant of almost £10,000 to deliver stress awareness courses at their base in Derby Road, Blackpool.

The pair met a few years ago as their sons sent to the same school and after discovering they shared a lot in common, including health problems, as well as supporting a child with mental health issues, they forged a strong friendship.

Hazel, 36, said: “I have degenerative disc disease on my spine, a cyst on my spinal chord, fibromyalgia and arthritis on my hip. I had to have three discs in my back replaced, as otherwise I would have been paralysed from the neck down. As a result, I got into a depression and so I needed something to focus on. I went back to Blackpool and Fylde College and did five courses, focusing on child and adolescent mental health, autism awareness, behavioural challenges, as well as level two teaching assistant and level three counselling.

“My son has ADHD and sensory processing disorder. He also suffers auditory hallucinations, which can cause him to self harm, so I have a lot of experience in this field. It is not easy, but you just get on with it.

“As Teresa had a background in care and worked in mental health, I wanted to do something with my counselling.

“So we set up Creative Therapy Concepts. We want to help people like ourselves who may not be well and not able to work full time. They can volunteer for us and do the stress awareness course, alongside the creative workshops. We teach people how to make things so they can sell them at our fund-raising events and it is a hobby for them. We hope to go into schools and talk to teenagers with anxiety issues and deliver social stories (illustrative tool to help people understand interpersonal communication and social interaction).”

Teresa, 46, who has fibromyalgia, ME and endometriosis, had worked in care prior to setting up Creative Therapy Concepts. She said: “I was self employed, delivering diversional therapy workshops to care homes and worked as a health care assistant at Victoria Hospital in Blackpool. I started looking at working with mental health and long term illnesses from when my eldest son was a teenager because he was struggling with mental health. So I started coming up with workshops that would offer positive activities with a creative spin.

“Through our own experiences and people around us, we know how important it is to find ways of coping with stressful situations but have discovered there is not a lot of support for the care community.

“We have been given the fantastic opportunity to collaborate with an organisation called Counselling in the Community and the overall goal is to be able to offer a range of holistic services and courses.

“We want to say that even though you have an ‘invisible illness,’ it is possible to achieve something amazing.”

For more information visit www.creativetherapyconcepts.com