If you were asked, ‘Who is your idol?’… who might you say? An actor? A singer? An author?
While we all need entertainers for a healthy dose of escapism, we’ve found an unsung hero whose impressive and humbling philanthropy deserves idol status.
Krish Patel was just an ordinary lad from Bolton before he turned his life around to create Tales to Inspire, an organisation that uses real stories from real people to connect humanity.
It all began when Krish got involved in an outreach programme that works with homeless populations in Manchester, seeing first-hand how his encounters dispelled any negative stereotypes that are propagated in popular narratives around homelessness.
This later led to a rare lightbulb moment, when he came across a homeless man who said something that would change his life forever.
Speaking exclusively to Uspire, Krish explained: “This man said said, ‘Stories are the pages that make up that book we call life.’ That was it.
“There and then I knew what I had to do. I had to harness the power of people’s individual stories in a way that would encourage people to persevere and never give up.
“A month later, Tales to Inspire was born. We launched Danny’s story of overcoming four years of homelessness. The next day, a lady got in touch saying she was going to end her life, but that the story had inspired her so much that she accessed support via the helplines listed in the article.”
Ever since launch, the Tales To Inspire team have released a story every single week to show people that, no matter what, they have the power to overcome any obstacles in their path and can learn from other individual journeys.
Krish continued: “I’ve come to realise that stories are the stitches that make up the fabric of our world. We all have a story, no matter who we are or where we live.
“Our stories are a source of power that can be used to move us in a positive direction and inspire us to grow, breaking through any obstacles that lie in our path.
“From a young age, we are read stories, about fantasies and long-lost places, our imagination and creativity run wild, and we believe anything is possible. As we grow up, we forget that we ourselves have our very own story.
“Stories are the pages that make up this book we call life and when we realise each of us have our own unique stories, we can start to explore ourselves to dig deeper into who we are, eventually being able to encourage others with our own story.”
Krish’s personal journey began when he was growing up in the north west of England, with his childhood spent dreaming of life as a professional football player.
Having experienced racial bullying, told that because of his Indian heritage he should be playing cricket not football, he defied all critics to sign with League 2 team Bury FC aged 18.
Yet plagued by injuries, he spent a lot of time on the bench instead of playing on the field.
It wasn’t long before Krish plunged into a deep depression, struggling how to survive and too proud to talk to anybody about it.
He explained: “When I did get back to playing, I’d lost all confidence in my ability and it came to the point where I dreaded turning up to train.
“I ended up being released from my contract aged 19 and was lost. All I cared about was girls, cars, money and what my friends thought of me. I had no identity.”
But, then came the offer to play football in California.
It looked like Krish was set for a new shot at life with the promise of a full scholarship while residing in a beach mansion. But on arrival, it was clear to Krish it was not as he expected.
He was in fact ten hours away from the beach, in a three-bedroom house for 10 people. The winters were bitterly cold, and they were playing football on a baseball field.
Having been duped about the opportunities, Krish’s depression continued to spiral.
Though a chance encounter with one of his teammates, who saw the potential in Krish, led him to rethink returning home to the UK without having explored his options Stateside.
Instead, he transferred to Auburn University at Montgomery – a city steeped with history where Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King stood up for racial justice and where the first black vote in the USA took place – where he graduated with a business degree in 2016.
Krish continued: “However, I realised that – so far – everything in my life had been about me. I felt very selfish and unhappy that I could Facebook message someone from anywhere in the world but was unable to help people.
“So, I decided to create the Road2Uganda campaign. I would run four marathons in four days from the north-west coast of England to the north-east coast, then head out to Uganda to build something sustainable.
“My idea was to show people how much helping others meant to me, even though I had never run a marathon before. Then people started to follow the campaign and donate.”
In January 2017, he completed the run and immediately travelled to Uganda where he coached football, volunteered with disabled children, and taught in classes while also helping out at the local orphanage and in female empowerment networks.
Following his first real taste of helping others, Krish returned home to Bolton and soon began helping run the Brew Power Manchester, a homeless outreach team.
On a mission to raise more funds for charity, he created the Swim4Shelter campaign in 2019, which would see him swim all 53 miles of the water in the Lake District National Park.
That summer, he completed each lake and swam all 11.7 miles of Lake Windermere, the biggest lake in England – which took just over nine hours of continuous swimming.
Chatting about the quest, Krish said: “It was a huge challenge. I had never previously swam outside before, but knew I had to do something to get me out of my comfort zone, to show people how much making a difference to people on the streets meant to me.
“In terms of training, I started at a local swimming pool doing 10-15 lengths in the very slowest lane and believe me I was struggling and going very, very slow.
“It was both physically and mentally demanding. Physically, my shoulder and body felt really battered and bruised, but mentally it got tough. The day before I was to swim Crummock Water (a five-mile swim), my grandad passed away.
“I told my grandma and family that I wouldn’t swim, however, they insisted that’s what he would have wanted. I guess it all comes back down to your reason why. I was convinced that my reason was so important, that I managed to swim with goggles full of tears on that day.”
Thanks to the generosity of donations, Krish went on to help 36 homeless people into the employment programme at the Booth Centre, Manchester’s local homeless charity.
Completing the Holy Grail of crusades, it was then that Krish founded Tales To Inspire.
He now believes that by sharing stories, we can improve wellbeing without suffering alone.
Krish concluded: “From a young age, in our schools, we are taught there are three things that are required for happiness.
“Number one, is that we need to work hard so we can get a good job. The second reason, that we need to have a good job, so that we can earn enough money. And the third reason, to have enough money so that we can be ‘happily’ married and live a ‘good’ life.
“All three of these things are external factors. We often wonder why so many recently graduated students who have the world at their feet, take their own life?
“Well, because many of them have no job, no money and no family yet we have been taught from a very early age that we should have that.”
He added: “Wellbeing should be taught from the youngest school years on.
“It should involve different cultures, countries and bring into view different perspectives based around how precious this life is. It should include resilience, endurance and empathy, without being prepared to get uncomfortable we will find it hard to grow.
“Wellbeing is about the person in the mirror, not about comfort and if we can generate that person in the mirror to sustainably ‘be well’, then why wouldn’t we?
“I am not against medicine or technology and pampering etc. as these things are needed, however, without a deep change in the individual, people will always find themselves back at the same situation, wondering why their life is still not going in the direction they hoped.”
To get involved, click here: Tales To Inspire