Inspiring win for life-changing pair

Carol and Len Fowler (right) receive their award at the Inspire Awards.
Carol and Len Fowler (right) receive their award at the Inspire Awards.

Carol and Len Fowler know what it is like to hit rock bottom, several years ago the Blackpool couple lost everything.

Running holiday flats in the town, they got themselves into financial trouble and their possessions ended up being repossessed.

Before they knew it, they, and their children, were homeless.

But today, they are celebrating, after winning a top award for a project inspired by their own harrowing experiences.

For they now run The Well homeless project and the Encounter Cafe in the resort which hands out food parcels and provisions to people down on their luck.

The scheme, now in its 10th year, was named the most inspiring project in the Inspire Awards which recognise the work of unsung Christian heroes in their communities.

The couple were presented with their award by shadow employment minister Stephen Timms at a ceremony in Westminster.

Carol said: “We were running holiday flats in Blackpool but we only had weekend trade, and we got into financial trouble and everything was repossessed.

“So we ended up homeless. We had five children and the oldest was only 10.

“The council rehoused us and we stayed in a guest house with just two rooms.

“So we know what it is like to be down on your luck, which is why we wanted to help others.”

She added: “Sometimes we have had people come in who are suicidal and we have been able to sit down with them and say ‘there is hope’.

“We have seen lives changed and we just thank God that we have been able to be part of this ministry and it will continue to grow.”

The Well and Encounter Cafe, supported by three churches, is open four days a week at the Walter Robinson Community Centre at Queens Park.

Carol, 55, said: “There are so many who live from hand to mouth and whose benefits don’t go as far as they should.

“Maybe because they are addicted to drugs, have health problems, have become alcoholics or simply are families that can’t make ends meet.

“Whatever their problems, we aim to show God’s grace by lending a helping hand and a listening ear.

“We show them, through our actions and our words, that God loves them and they are not forgotten.”

The plight of the homeless in Blackpool was highlighted by The Gazette last year when reporter Steve Canavan penned a week-long series of articles, including a stint living on the sreets of the town himself.

Steve Clifford, general director of the Evangelical Alliance which supports the award scheme along with Inspire Magazine, said: “I would have loved for those who believe the Church is dead or irrelevant to society to have been here today.

“This is one of the highlights of my year as we see the amazing work that individual Christians and local churches are doing to make a huge difference in the lives of thousands of people of all faiths and none in their neighbourhoods.”

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