Martin started Food for Change at the end of 2018 after being referred by Building Better Opportunities, a programme designed to help local people move closer to, or into employment.
At the time, Martin was very low in confidence and struggled with his mental health. He had also been out of employment for several years due to a physical issue that had caused him to be signed off from work.
Despite not previously enjoying gardening or spending time outdoors, Martin got involved in grow sessions led by Cornwall Neighbourhoods for Change. These sessions encourage participants to help develop the Food for Change allotment site in St Austell, from growing delicious fruit and veg to building a composting toilet!
“Before spending time at the allotment, I hated gardening, but now I love it! Watching something grow, and seeing the end result of your hard work is very satisfying. All of the vegetables grown at the allotment are shared between the volunteers and none goes to waste”.
Since starting Food for Change, Martin’s confidence, self-esteem and general emotional health have drastically improved. He has also made steps to improve his diet and widened the food choices he is willing to eat, through trying new foods grown at the allotment and used in FoodWorks cooking sessions.
“Since I have joined the (Food for Change) programme, I have seen a lot of changes in myself, I have lost two stone in weight, feel much healthier and socialise better with others. One of my proudest achievements was receiving an award for achievement from Building Better Opportunities.”
“Through Food for Change, I have received my hygiene certificate, foraged for edible foods at the Eden Project and visited many garden nurseries to learn about different plants. I have also attended FoodWorks cooking sessions at The House. I was never very adventurous with food but Food for Change has taught me to explore new flavours and experiment with new ingredients. I particularly enjoyed cooking the fish curry and poached egg on rye bread”
Martin has now exited the Food for Change programme but will continue to volunteer at the allotment and the Swap Shop community space in St Austell alongside looking for work. After years of being unemployed, he is excited about the prospect of new job opportunities.
“Since joining Food for Change, things have gone on the up. They are a great bunch up at the allotment and Jade and Jo from Cornwall Neighbourhood’s for Change have been wonderful to me. Although I am no longer on the programme, I will continue to spend time volunteering at the Swap Shop and up at the allotment.”