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Paul Colwell

"The Food Chain has made me a happier, stronger individual"

"The ward I was staying in at St Thomas’ hospital referred me to The Food Chain last year. I spoke with The Food Chain’s Dietitian on the phone, who arranged for me to receive the grocery service.

"I originally came to London in January 2014 – low on money and searching for work. I was previously a professional sailor, working on private yachts all over the world. The nature of my work meant I never needed to cook for myself.

"I have been living with the HIV virus since 2003. On 25 March 2014, I contracted swine flu. I spent eight weeks in a coma, and five months in hospital. My weight plummeted from 14 stone to 7 stone, and I was later forced into emergency accommodation. I started receiving the grocery service in September last year, but then had to go back to hospital for a further two weeks. The Food Chain Dietitian was very helpful – she froze my deliveries while I was in hospital and recommenced them as soon as I was discharged, so I could still receive everything they could offer.

"I currently attend the Eating Together sessions on a Wednesday. It has linked me to other groups and I feel I can now talk positively about my situation. I feel comfortable in my own skin again. I have started attending the Eating Positively nutrition and cookery classes too.

"I won free-to-enter raffles at Eating Together and took home some recipe cards and ingredients. I’d never cooked before, and so I enjoyed learning new things, like which oils to use and why. Now I’ve cooked something for myself and made it homely.

"The Food Chain has given me energy, and a healthier outlook on life. I’d rate the service a million out of ten!

"My weight is now back up to 14 stone. I feel like I’ve been reborn. For the first time in my life, I am feeling strong. The Food Chain has made me a happier, stronger individual."