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Making The Most Of A Second Chance

Blackpool man rebuilds life after serious illness

At 38 years of age, Chris has already overcome some huge challenges in his life.

Throughout school, Chris struggled with reading, writing and numeracy and needed extra support. Whilst at college, he started having severe headaches. This led to him spending most of his time indoors at home, isolated from other people. It was only recently that an MRI scan revealed a growth on Chris's brain that had probably been affecting him since childhood.

Although the operation to remove the growth was a complete success, the whole experience affected Chris's confidence and self-esteem. But with support from a number of organisations and the Grow Blackpool programme, he is now rebuilding his life and his confidence and starting to achieve his true potential.

For a long time I felt down in the dumps and kept myself to myself. Now I've been given a second chance at life. Grow Blackpool is helping me make the most of it.

Grow Blackpool is a food growing network managed by Groundwork and funded by Blackpool Council Public Health. It runs regular sessions at community growing sites across Blackpool where people can come along and not only learn new skills and make new friends, but also improve their health and wellbeing.

Chris heard about Grow Blackpool on Facebook. Despite not having any previous gardening experience, he decided to give it a try. That was in 2015 and Chris now enjoys it so much, he currently attends twice a week, which fits in nicely with his part time job.

With his confidence has increased, Chris now takes more of a lead role on site. He supports other volunteers in making things for the allotment and is always happy to explain what needs to be done and how to do the tasks required.

Chris says "Grow Blackpool has brought me out of my shell and helped my confidence. I've made new friends and don't feel awkward meeting and speaking to people any more. Volunteering is one of the best things I've ever done because it has helped me be more open minded when it comes to trying new things."

Chris now enjoys gardening so much that he's just got his own allotment plot, where he grows his own vegetables. He says ˜Being active and out in the fresh air is great. I've even started eating healthier."