Ken’s story: an incredible journey

"People laugh when I tell them about what's on my bucket list, but before I die I want to climb the top of a crane, one of the really big ones, and spend the night in the cabin.

I want to watch the world's greatest city working, sleeping and waking. Humanity in all its glory." 

You can tell Ken is something of a creative mind. He is an alumnus of the Spitalfields Crypt Trust's (SCT) New Hanbury Project; "Drama classes taught me I could pretend to be someone else without being drunk".

He is an alumni of the Spitalfields Crypt Trust's (SCT) New Hanbury Project; "Drama classes taught me I could pretend to be someone else without being drunk".

And he has been one of the many trusted faces of SCT's  flagship social enterprise, Shoreditch's famous Paper and Cup, where he could shine just by being himself, an experience that has propelled him into the vanguard of SCT's 'Progression' programme. The Progression team augments the recovery process through volunteering, work placements and training opportunities, one such placement being with The House of St Barnabas, the not-for-profit members club in Soho.

"When I first walked in I thought to myself ‘Oh my God, it's really posh’, but I do have an eye for design and surroundings, having worked with elaborate mosaics, and being a keen churchgoer. So I didn't feel completely out of place.

...he has been one of the many trusted faces of SCT's  flagship social enterprise, Shoreditch's famous Paper and Cup, an experience that has propelled him into the vanguard of SCT's 'Progression' programme. The Progression team augments the recovery process through volunteering, work placements and training opportunities...

The smart surroundings belie the relaxed atmosphere where everyone is treated as an equal and there's a real sense of camaraderie. It's also great working in the West End in the heart of our great city. Getting the bus in the morning through the winding streets gives you the opposite perspective on what it must be like looking down from that crane", he laughs.

Back to the classy and eclectic surroundings of the House of St Barnabas, Ken explains to me the difference between architectural terms such as Peripteral and Tympanum - and I can't keep up. Although I think I know a bit about this stuff I'm clearly an amateur. 

"The most important thing in my recovery has been confidence building...Through SCT and now, with St Barnabas, they have helped me achieve a lot towards this."

At the end of the programme in hospitality, motivation and job searching, everyone gets a mentor, advice and help. "The most important thing in my recovery has been confidence building. Lots of people will tell you they want to cram a whole new world of experiences and missed opportunities into their new life. I think that you need confidence and faith in yourself to do that. Through SCT and now, with St Barnabas, they have helped me achieve a lot towards this".

Ken is a bit of a writer as well, having excelled at the New Hanbury Project; "I've a nose for the gothic. But it's not horrible; it can be quite a beautiful way of expressing the wonderful absurdities that make people so different but at the same time unite us all."

I'm really looking forward to the story he writes about the atmospheric St Barnabas, or even the evening he spends sitting atop that giant crane looking down at the world in all its glory. "Why not?" he says, "I've already come this far."

Thank you to Nigel, the fantastic Editor of Normal magazine.

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