Festival square

Come and see these giant artworks being created and chat further with the team at our temporary city centre workshop, Bauer Millett arches, 8 Albion Street, M1 5LN, open every day up to and including 21st July, 12-8pm

I used to call it “the new bad back.”

I spent my 20s working in residential care, stressful, but it paid the bills in those days, and I had a mortgage and a young family. I enjoyed it on the whole and was good at it too.

Colleagues would drop like flies. A month off with depression, 3 months, 6 months. I bumped into one of them in a park one day. “He doesn’t look very depressed” I said to the mrs.

What an idiot I was.

Around turning 30 a few things happening in quick succession. My relationship broke down, so I lost my home, then I had to deal with issues from childhood, which caused more family turmoil, and I lost my home again. It was a mess and everyone important seemed to just vanish overnight.

I went off the rails for a bit, out every night n all that, only really for long enough to lose my job and then I withdrew. Completely. I slept more than I was awake. The only time I spent with anyone was during my brief stints as weekend dad. Slithers of sunlight in some very dark times.

For the next four years I did NOTHING. I barely left the flat. Felt like I had nothing to offer, nothing to gain by engaging with the world. I just wanted to be left alone.

What changed for me was when my girls told me they didn’t know what to say when their friends asked what I did for work. What could they say? NOTHING

My way out was through education. I wasn’t ready for a job, I wouldn’t have lasted 10 minutes but I’d always loved music, played in a few tragic bands as you do. So I signed up to a course in music production. If nothing else I could learn how to be a bedroom producer.

At 36 I started my course and absolutely loved it. I went on to do a degree at Salford Uni. “BSc in Professional Broadcast Techniques”. Doesn’t that sound fancy.

Me and the mrs got back together too. In all honesty, without her and the girls, I’d probably still be holed up in that flat.

The last few years I’ve been using my new skills in creative media and my old skills in helping people to improve their lives. Can’t say freelance arts practitioner is a stable job, but wowsers, it’s varied and rewarding.

When Manchester Street Poem was born in 2017 I wanted to get involved. I’d been running a digital storytelling project at Mustard Tree for Stretch Charity and basically barged my way into the team. I fell in love with the project so when they were looking for a manager it was a no-brainer.

I‘m so proud to lead this project. I’m 46 and my career sometimes feels like it’s where it should have been 20 years ago, but those experiences have put me where I am now. Who knows where I’d be otherwise. I could still be that guy in the park wondering why his colleague doesn’t look depressed. Heaven forbid.

Download the score