Leslie's Story

Leslie Knowles believes his engagement with 4SX has been a very positive for the 54-year-old from the south of Essex.

The Southend-based carer has started out on what he thinks will be a long musical journey, thanks to the not-for-profit organisation.

Leslie has cared for his frail mother – who is 90 years old – and felt that life was passing him by due to his considerable caring duties.

He wanted to find something that fitted in with his caring role, and allowed him to learn a new skill and broaden his horizons.

Learning a musical instrument seemed to be the best choice and when Leslie’s sister, Jennifer Andrews, saw an article about 4SX in a local paper she suggested her brother make contact.

He said: “Jennifer urged me to get on a course and I thought that it was a good idea. I went to Argos and bought a decent guitar because I wanted to play a musical instrument.”

Leslie’s experience with the 4SX team was pretty positive, he said.

Project officer Frazer Clark was the man who went to Leslie’s home for a chat about what he could expect - and to fill in the forms needed to get him signed up.

Leslie said: “I knew that there would be some form-filling, and I was happy for that to happen. I am a big fan of the music of people like The Eagles, Smokie, Cat Stevens and Neil Young, so I knew the sort of music I wanted to play.

“4SX found me a really good guitar instructor, her name is Debbie and she lives on Fairfax Drive in Southend. I was really nervous the first time I went to see her, but she put my mind at ease and quite soon I was learning to play real songs. I am learning Buddy Holly’s Heartbeat, The Eagles Peaceful Easy Feeling and Bye bye Love by the Everly Brothers.

“My instructor insists that I practise for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the afternoon and my fingers are sore – but it’s worth it and I am learning chords as well as open plucking techniques. I feel so much happier now and I’m learning lots of chords.

Leslie’s 4SX key worker was the highly experienced Ashley Smith who has many years involvement in the Third Sector. It was he who found the right guitar instructor for Leslie and set up the lessons.

“Ashley’s been great,” said Leslie, “He is a lovely bloke and easy to talk to. Learning the guitar is boosting my confidence.”

The ‘Essex Carers – The Way to Work’ project which is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and the European Union Social Fund – is still helping scores of people in Essex give themselves more options for the future.

When will your journey of self-discovery begin? It’s as simple as calling 01268 923912, or searching out www.essexcarers.co.uk