AN art group – founded by a former drug addict – which aims to help others improve their lives has found a home for its weekly sessions.

Ricky McCarthy, 48, was addicted to drugs for 20 years dabbling with amphetamines, cocaine, crack and ecstasy as his life spiralled out of control.

But, after turning his back on the drugs which nearly killed him, Ricky of The Thorolds, Vange, discovered a passion for art.

He began hosting art sessions around the town where people, particularly those suffering from mental illness, could try their hand at painting or just enjoy a cup of tea and a chat.

But now the group – called the Shadyfish Experience or TSX – has found a regular home.

From October 27 the group will meet every Wednesday at St Chad’s, in Clay Hill Road, Basildon, from 11.30am until 2.30pm. And, as of last Friday, the group will meet each Friday too, at the community hall in Trinity Church, also in Clay Hill Road, from 12.30pm until 3.30pm.

Ricky urged anyone interested to come along.

He said: “TSX will provide all the art equipment and people can do what they like, whether that’s painting or drawing.

“Or people can just chat.

“The group is open to absolutely anybody, and it really just aims to include everybody in the community.”

The group, which is funded by the National’s Lottery’s Big Lottery Fund, is still waiting to find out if it has won charitable status which will make it easier for TSX to raise cash for its projects.