A father-of-four who spent eight years on benefits and in and out of work after losing his job says opening a grocery store has given him a new lease of life.

Bradlyn Parry, known to his customers as Derek, opened Jerk Spice, Chingford’s first Caribbean shop, in October 2016 and says the business has gone “from strength to strength”.

After losing his job as a pub landlord in 2008 when the business was suffering due to the smoking ban introduced a year earlier, Mr Parry began searching for work.

Although he picked up part-time jobs in security, it wasn’t long before he was diagnosed with diabetes and had to re-evaluate his situation.

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But being unemployed and suffering from ill-health only made the 42-year-old of Prospect Hill, Walthamstow more determined to become his own boss.

After being given £9,000 from East London Small Business Loans his dream was realised when he opened his shop in Old Church Road, Chingford.

“You just have to have people around you that encourage you in whatever you do and are positive.

“If you don’t have that help it is really challenging to start a business on your own.

“When I am working I don’t worry about my diabetes. It keeps me occupied.

“It was just something I needed to do.”

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Mr Parry admits he faced challenges at the beginning, starting out with just £500 to buy stock, but says things are slowly improving and he is now able to pay rent and business rates.

Jerk Spice has a range of dried and fresh foods, meat, fish, herbal teas and health foods on offer.

The shopkeeper is originally from Jamaica and has been living in the UK for 18 years.

Although Chingford was not his first choice when looking for a suitable area, he said he knows he made the right decision.

“The locals are really happy because there’s quite a wide range of people from different background in Chingford,” he said.

“It’s a nice, quiet area. People here tell me they need something like this.

“Some of my customers came from Jamaica 30 or 50 years ago.

“When they tell me that my store reminds them of home I feel appreciated and happy I can bring that service to them.”