When kind-hearted grandmother Judy Karbritz found out her friend had obsessive-compulsive disorder, she was determined to do all in her power to help.

And 13 years on, the OCD Action group she helped launch in Edgware Community Hospital, Burnt Oak Broadway, has come on in leaps and bounds.

To mark OCD Action Week from February 18 to 24, Mrs Karbritz wants to encourage more people to come forward to get the help they need to fight the “horrific” affliction.

She said: “Everyone here is fantastic, it’s wonderful. We have been going strong for so long and I couldn’t be prouder.

“Many bottle up their emotions but they feel relaxed and at ease here. They talk and talk and it does them so much good. Our sessions are gentle, supportive, warm and caring.

“Most people are nervous and you don’t have to say anything during the meetings. They all come to us feeling lost, but by the end of the sessions they feel relieved.”

Meetings are free and open to sufferers and their families and friends, and they are invited into separate rooms to talk about the challenges they face.

Symptoms include fear of contamination from dirt, doubts about harm occurring, violent or aggressive images, excessive concern with symmetry, and many more.

Mrs Karbritz, of Park Grove, Edgware, does not have the disorder herself - but was inspired to find out more after a friend told her of her struggle.

Having trained as a bereavement councillor after her mother died, Mrs Karbritz spoke to a colleague and the pair launched the group together.

Since then, the spiritual healer and poet has also co-written a book about the disorder with her friend, Alison Islin.

She added: “The first time I heard about OCD was when a friend wanted to send me a letter but was worried she’d write an obscenity on the envelope. She explained it’s called the doubting disease.

“I was fascinated and knew I had to do something to help.

“I want people to know they don’t have to be afraid to share their feelings. You don’t have to feel lost - you’re not alone.”

Meetings are free and anonymous, and held from 7.30pm to 9pm on the second Tuesday of every month in the Royal Free NRC room, near the chapel.

For more information, phone Mrs Karbritz on 07540 926 501.