A MUM who was left struggling with her mental health due to a battle with a serious autoimmune illness is now giving hope to other people going through tough times.

Lynsey Ritchie, an expert in reflexology and massage, gave a warm welcome to passers-by as she recently took over the pop-up shop in Gourock town centre in a bid to help individuals with their physical and mental wellbeing.

Lynsey says holistic therapy was a life saver for her after she fell desperately ill fighting ulcerative colitis.

It led to her giving up her career in retail and recruitment and going in a new direction as a therapist.

The 46-year-old from Inverkip, who runs her own clinic from her house, works with individuals and groups, including people recovering from addiction and the carers' centre.

Lynsey said: "All I want to do is give that feeling of hope to people. I have been in some really bad places myself and if I can inspire hope in people, then I have achieved something.

"I wanted to people to come in to the pop-up shop, have a cup of tea and find out about the help available to them."

Lynsey was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in her 20s.

She said: "I was really, really unwell. It affected me physically and mentally and I was taking medicines and steroids."

Lynsey says her life changed when she discovered reflexology, massage and other complementary therapies.

She said: "When I was pregnant with my son Oscar, who is now 10, I became very, very ill again and had both pre and post-natal depression.

"But I had my complementary therapies and I knew how to make myself better.

"When Oscar was seven months I started working and that gave me focus. By helping other people, I was helping myself get better too."

Now she is studying counselling as she looks to give comfort and practical help to people at a low ebb in their life.

She added: "There are many heartbroken people who have come through my door, but even for one of my clients who is paralysed from the neck down, we can always do something to make their lives better.

"I have people who have been bereaved, they have been suicidal and some have severe disabilities.

"Sometimes the health system can make people feel like there is nothing that can be done, but there is always something.

"I think it is important is to get the message across that there are always going to be stresses in life, you are going to come up against problems. 

"But what we do is give you something that can help. It is all about simple self-care."