banner image
Back to News

Neil’s story: “The constant support has been amazing”

Positive People Positive People - West Yorkshire 22 November 2021

Like lots of people, Neil lost his job due to Covid-19 and the lockdowns. It caused unexpected stress and debts mounted up. Thankfully Hopeful Families, through Groundwork, could give the support Neil needed to get back on his feet and into a much more positive place.



Neil, 45, was working for three local charities in the Wakefield area, as a cook. Covid-19 came along, and the rest is history. With no income, rising debts led to depression, compounded by growing anxiety from being unemployed and worrying about future income.

Neil was directed to the Hopeful Families programme, via Groundwork. They provide specialist tailored support to help people move forward with their lives.


Support from Hopeful Families

Neil sat down with his family mentor. They discussed what skills and experience he had, what he would like to do and what other issues he has that was holding him back.

Debbie, Neil’s family mentor said: “We got Neil help and support from debt management specialists Money Smart. They helped get his debts under control, which included a manageable repayment plan. This took a huge pressure away, putting Neil back in control. The phone calls and letters from debt collectors all stopped pretty much overnight.”

Neil was keen to find employment cooking for local charities, like he did before. He also wanted to put on cooking lessons and demonstrations, to help people eat more healthy, nutritious meals. To do this, Neil needed a food safety qualification.

A suitable level three food safety course was identified which Neil completed online. He passed with flying colours.

During this time, Neil was in contact with Move Ahead Wakefield, a local charity that supports people who have brain injuries. They were looking for a cook. He had several meetings with them, and another charity also confirmed that once customers were able to attend for lunches, they would be able to offer Neil employment as a cook on a self-employed basis.

Neil needed some cooking equipment. Fortunately, he was able to purchase the equipment through a community grant, from St George’s Community Centre.


Moving forward

“The support I received through Hopeful Families has allowed me to get my life back in order after such a turbulent 18 months. With all the support throughout from Debbie, my family mentor, I’ve got my confidence and self-respect back and I’ve developed a determination to succeed.

“I feel like I’ve succeeded. I’ve started my own business and I’m not only doing what I love, but I’ll be working with two charities – Move Ahead Wakefield and Elderly Care, as their cook.”

Neil is already looking to the future. He has plans to grow his business, ‘Neil’s Meals’. He is determined to repay his debts, work with other local charities, and start to deliver cooking lessons and demonstrations.

“The constant support has been great and thanks to Hopeful Families, the avenues for funding and support, that have helped me, has been amazing,” concluded Neil.

The Hopeful Families programme is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and the European social Fund. If you would like to find out how Hopeful Families can help you, contact or call 07341 004 949.