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Hopeful Families: From Nigeria to West Yorkshire

Pluss Positive People - West Yorkshire 09 September 2022

Pluss Hopeful Families supports the most socially excluded families in West Yorkshire to overcome the challenges they face in finding employment. Groundwork Yorkshire act as family mentors, offering one to one sessions with an individual in the family, or with the family as a whole.

The programme is individually tailored to meet each person’s needs and offers advice in areas such as personal development, health and wellbeing, finance and benefits as well as providing access to training and life-skills mentoring, such as using digital technology.

Paul’s story:

Paul**, 49 is a lawyer from Nigeria. Paul fled to the UK from Nigeria with his family following the kidnapping of his wife who escaped with horrific injuries. The traumatic experience deeply impacted the entire family, including their four children. When Paul and his wife fled their home, they were forced to leave behind a good quality of life and successful careers in law and medicine.

Removed from a comfortable lifestyle in Nigeria which afforded them choices such as private education for their children, the family’s new reality in the UK looks very different. Thankfully, they received a complex package of support from Hopeful Families in order to help them out of crisis and improve their long terms prospects.

Being forced to move quickly meant arriving in the UK with very little belongings, the team supplied them with basic necessities such as clothing, toys, a laptop and phone. Healthy food parcels, and help with understanding energy bills and accessing energy grants was also provided.

Under their visa’s, Paul and his wife are allowed to work but not entitled to benefits. Paul was therefore soon desperately seeking any means of employment to keep food on the table and provide for his family.

Despite high levels of education, they face barriers to returning to their professions.

In a town where you have no one to run to, Hopeful Families made me feel at home

The team worked with Paul to put long and short-term employment plans into place; accessing training for a Fork Lift Truck license to get him into work immediately while putting the motions in place to transfer his law qualification to the UK – an expensive process for which Groundwork are exploring sponsorship options.

Paul’s wife is also undergoing training which will enable her to become a GP.

School signWith his four daughters needing to begin education in the UK, the family was devastated when they were allocated different schools: “When my children were sent to different schools there was no way I could manage the situation, I appealed to the council for a reconsideration of the postings. Thankfully, Hopeful Families came into the case, wrote letters to the appeals board and the team leader even accompanied us to the sitting.  The result was positive courtesy of Hopeful Families.”

The family was also provided with private counselling to overcome the traumatic events they have experienced. Paul said: “Hopeful Families has made a great difference in my life and family. I arrived in Wakefield deeply disillusioned and feeling seriously helpless and hopeless. That was the situation till Hopeful Families came along and it all changed.

“I was psychologically disturbed as a result of the traumatic experience I and my family had [in Nigeria], Hopeful Families quickly arranged for me to meet with an expert who assisted me. My emotions were running wild but the constant calls and words of encouragement and assurances from the team was of immense help for me to cope. In a town where you have no one to run to, Hopeful Families made me feel at home.”

“I would humbly like to state the obvious fact that there are a lot of people out there in similar desperate position I found myself, as such I humbly pray that Hopeful Families will one day be able to spread its tentacles to reach more people.”


**This beneficiary has been given a pseudonym to protect their identity.

Jointly funded by National Lottery Community Fund and the European Social Fund. The programme is run by the Pluss Organisation and a team of five West Yorkshire voluntary and community partners.

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