These well-wishers were offering free hugs in Blackpool town centre – here’s why!

Dawn Johnson from STAR (Stand Together and Recover), a new peer support group for people with mental health issues (Picture: STAR/Facebook)
Dawn Johnson from STAR (Stand Together and Recover), a new peer support group for people with mental health issues (Picture: STAR/Facebook)
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Free hugs were offered to shoppers in Blackpool town centre by members of a new mental health support group in the resort.

Around 40 people from STAR (Stand Together and Recover), some holding signs and wearing flashing lights, tried to put a smile on people’s faces before walking through the Illuminations.

Jessica Johnson, 29, from Bispham, who has emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD), anxiety, and depression, said the group has saved her life. “This has given me a purpose,” she said. “I can help people who are struggling the same as me.

“I was having therapy before I started this, and I thought, ‘Is there nothing more than this?’

“Therapy goes on for eight weeks and it stops, and you’re back home and isolated.”

The group meets from noon to 2pm every Tuesday at the Claremont Community Centre, in Claremont Road, North Shore.