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Jonathan’s story – perseverance and the willingness to change direction

Blog Positive People - West Yorkshire 22 June 2021

Jonathan is a 25-year-old man, living in the Pontefract area. Diagnosed as having Asperger’s, some aspects of Jonathan’s day-to-day living and working can present additional challenges.


Jonathan lives at home, though he would like to become more independent and one day live on his own. He was referred to Hopeful Families to gain some practical skills that would help him in this area and to access training to improve his employability skills.

Jonathan also had a fear of dentists and historically he was not great managing money. Two further areas where he was seeking some support, to help avoid unwanted stress and anxiety which were barriers holding him back.

When Jonathan first came into contact with Hopeful Families, he was not sure about what training was best for him. One of the things a Hopeful Families coach will do is sit down with a participant to explore their transferable skills and learn what areas they are interested in.

On joining Hopeful Families, Jonathan was also doing some voluntary work at a local British Heart Foundation shop.

Support from Hopeful Families

With available funding from the project, Jonathan was given a life coach to help him set challenging but realistic goals and to encourage him to focus on his needs.

This led to some work experience with a tutor. Jonathan was interested in pursuing teaching. He was mentored by a friend, who was a freelance computer science tutor. During this time Jonathan enrolled on a level three PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector) training course, funded by Hopeful Families. He subsequently earned a grade C on three out of four modules, receiving 1-1 mentoring to help with his planning.

Unfortunately, like many people, Jonathan found the Covid-19 lockdowns had a negative effect on his motivation. With a lack of face-to-face contact, he found the coursework really tough going.

Jonathan was given extra support during this period but working remotely was mentally exhausting. Due to his condition and the way he needed to work, he was challenged like never before. Even though he had 1-1 coursework mentoring, after seven attempts to pass his last module, he struggled to meet the required standard for a pass.

Additional help was negotiated with the college to give him every opportunity to nail that elusive pass, however it wasn’t to be. Jonathan said he was, ‘beyond over-whelmed’. While he did well before lockdown, the lockdown period had a major impact on his ability to make progress and after giving it a fair crack of the whip, he decided it was time to seek an alternative path.

After some time considering his options, Jonathan decided to pursue opportunities working in a retail environment. He felt his voluntary work experience with the British Heart Foundation had given him an insight and he enjoyed it, so he moved his studies to a customer service course.

He explained to his coach that he ‘needed to feel he was making a worthwhile contribution for the sake of his well-being’.

Jonathan also went on an ACES programme (a local employment support programme) providing intensive job search help and 1-1 support. Jonathan felt motivated by this shift of direction and felt it suited him better, along with a sense of relief that the tutor course had ended.

Jonathan also received various other support too while on the Hopeful Families programme. This included a referral to an NHS clinical dentist for support and treatment, a money management course to improve his budgeting skills and employability training, including help putting together an effective CV. Jonathan also registered for support with an organisation to develop his independent living skills.

Once Jonathan had made the decision to leave the PTLLS course he reported that his life changed significantly, for the better. He no longer felt overwhelmed, and family life was returning to normal.

Looking back Jonathan is pleased with his progress. The pandemic played a significant role in choosing not to complete the original course, however since shifting to a customer services course, he feels positive and optimistic about the future.

Everyone at Hopeful Families Groundwork team wish Jonathan good luck in completing the new course which will put him in a strong position for securing employment in the retail sector in due course.