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Betty's story: "I was losing my identity"

Pluss Positive People - Cornwall Self employment 05 January 2022

Betty considered herself down on her luck when she lost her job as a Wellbeing Coordinator in July 2020. Like so many others, she found herself unemployed due to circumstances brought about by the Covid pandemic.

But Covid hadn’t yet dealt its lowest blow and Betty was faced with the news that planned neurosurgery – due to take place in August that year, to deal with an Epidermoid Tumour – was delayed not once but eight times!

As the tumour grew, Betty experienced major migraines, seizures, vision problems and energy depletion.

It affected her speech, numbed parts of her body and resulted in her not being able to drive and becoming less active both physically and mentally.

“I was losing my identity,” she says. “But I was determined to keep motivated, so I contacted Cornwall Neighbourhoods for Change (CN4C).”

Nature lover

Betty had previously worked for many years in arts and education; she loved the great outdoors and had always loved being part of her local community which shone through in her employed and volunteer work.

CN4C (Part of the Positive People programme) offered to fund a course for Betty that allowed her to progress at her own pace.

Photo of Betty

When I was able to summon up the energy, tending my vegetable plot, walking in the fresh air and being out and about in nature brought me alive

“My health problems meant I couldn’t handle lots of time spent sitting at a computer, but Positive People’s CN4C provided possibilities and guidance into a range of training and courses I could undertake from home in my own time.

“This kept me motivated and connected with who I am, what I wanted to be able to do when I was back in good health and how I could do it.”

Giving back

In May 2021, the long wait was over, and Betty finally underwent neurosurgery.

Since then, Betty has gone from strength to strength; her love of nature and wellbeing has led the way into a new project.

Positive People’s CN4C really helped me with my return to work. They funded my Food Hygiene and Safety Certificate so I could run kitchen sessions, introducing people to the joys of plant-based food and cooking, and to set up a monthly event; Earth Café – about human and planetary welfare and raising awareness of projects in the area.

Colourful vegetables“They paid for my cycle gear including gloves and waterproof shoe covers – meaning I was mobile again – and they helped with equipment so that I could provide yoga classes at the local community centre.”

Betty says she’s thrilled to be able to give something back in return.

“All the support I was given, I can now offer again,” she says. And she’s already looking towards the future: “My goals are to develop the weekly kitchen class into an actual café open to even more people.”

“I also run nature sessions and creative classes at the community centre and want to develop these further by enabling people to have more time with nature and its benefits. Getting them out to explore and interact with the outside world.”

“As and when I can obtain more yoga equipment I plan to hold restorative sessions and open them to a wider range of people,” she enthuses.

With communities being at the heart of her actions, Betty has now set up a Community Interest Company; ‘Heart Of Laurels‘. The focus integrates her skills, experience, passions and projects bringing people and nourishment together through kitchens, cafés, events, yoga, arts and, of course, nature and the outdoors.

Positive People’s CN4C has ensured I’m fulfilling my ambitions and bringing positivity to others” says Betty.

Cornwall Neighbourhoods For Change

We support people who want to make a change for the better. We challenge the system where we see it is broken. We challenge people to change their lives to achieve their potential. We work with people and organisations to make Cornwall fairer.

Every day we see that the current system is unfair and that people do not have equal opportunity to meet their basic needs and make their lives better. As well as being morally unjust, this inequality costs us all millions that could be better spent on solutions to fundamental problems.

Find out more about CN4C here: