It was great to just catch up with Kel, who has been a big part of Back on Track over the past few years.
Everyone here knows her. She’s been all kinds of things including our choir, Tony Walsh’s poetry group, and the Manchester Street Poem project. Recently, though, she took the plunge and moved out to Blackpool, where some of her family live. She is starting a new life there with a new flat there and new adventures.
‘I’ve now got my flat really nice,’ she says. ‘I’ve been spending time with my mam and two brothers. I’m going to a place called U R Potential with my housing support officer, also she is looking into what other little projects there is for me too…’
Life hasn’t always been easy for Kel, and she says that when she first came to Back on Track she was at rock bottom. And just before Christmas she split up with her partner, which was tough for her. But she’s also spoken about the huge strides she’s made – something clear to everyone at Back on Track.
‘God knows where I’d be without Back on Track,’ she tells me. Whatever’s going on in my life I’ve always known that’s Back on Track is here for me. Samantha (our Employability Coordinator) has always been there for me, so have lots of the staff. I’ll miss it loads. At Back on Track it doesn’t matter who you are – service user or staff or volunteer – nobody’s better than anyone else.
I’d never have been able to make this move three years ago. I didn’t have the strength to do it. Now I have.’
What were the highlights from her time at Back on Track? Not surprisingly, all the friends she’s made here come top of the list. But what else?
‘I loved singing in the choir. And creative writing – I actually suggested creative writing when they were asking for people’s ideas on what courses Back on Track should do next. So I had a part in making that happen.
And then being part of Tony Walsh’s poetry group for Back on Track’s 40th anniversary event, being part of making all come together – that was really special.’
We all remember her performance that day as a major highlight. Like everything else she does, Kel wears her heart on her sleeve with her poems, and she initially struggled to get the words out because they were so personal and meant so much. But the other members of the group shouted encouragement, and Kel somehow managed to get through it, leaving plenty of people watching feeling pretty emotional.
‘Yeah well it’s like Tony said in the workshops: poetry is “one heart speaking to another”. That’s all it is really. One heart speaking to another.’
Kel touched a lot of hearts at Back on Track. And you know what? We’re sure she’ll do the same in Blackpool.