Skip to main content
A yellow branded Foothold megaphone icon against a Teal background

John’s story of rebuilding financial security following a breakdown

Find out how we helped John look after his daughter Fabienne after a series of personal crises led to a debilitating breakdown.

Hi, I’m John, and I live in Scotland with my daughter Fabienne.

Things started out really well for me in my career. Following a stint in the Household Cavalry, I worked as a surgical engineer before moving on to teach engineering apprentices at a local college.

This is where my passion for educating the next generation of engineers came to life.

Then everything changed overnight when my baby son Kieran died suddenly. He was just six months old.

I just couldn’t comprehend the fact that he’d been taken away from us. I only had one week off work to help arrange his funeral.

A growing crisis

When I returned to work, I felt so alone. I was really struggling to cope and kept having moments where I would just break down crying. There was no support, no counselling – I just had to get on as if nothing had happened.

It wasn’t long before the grief got too much for me and my wife to cope with, and within a year our marriage had ended. I did manage to start a new relationship and was over the moon when we welcomed my daughter Fabienne into the world.

Unfortunately, this relationship also fell apart. I was so relieved when granted sole guardianship of Fabienne and she came to live with me.

But the pressure of fighting the legal battles – combined with the stress, grief and trauma that had been building up over the years – became overwhelming, and I had a mental breakdown.

I tried so hard to keep things going, but it soon became impossible for me to work and we ended up living hand to mouth to survive. There were times when I asked myself: ‘what’s the point of carrying on?’ I was in a very dark place.

Looking back, I wish it hadn’t got to this point before I turned to Foothold for help. But I was reluctant to reach out because I felt like I didn’t deserve it.

Getting back on track

I’ll never forget the moment I opened the letter from Foothold confirming our monthly grant. I was reduced to tears with relief.

It meant I could put food on the table, fix our leaking roof, and even take Fabienne away on a short holiday so we could get away from the stress. Seeing her laughing and smiling again was the most amazing thing.

My life now is very different to the one I imagined. I find it hard to think that I was once teaching future engineers.

But Foothold’s support has meant that I do still have a life to live. I hate to think about what would have happened had they not been there for us. It’s enabled me to focus on being the best dad for Fabienne that I can be.

It is only thanks to donations from people like you that Foothold have been able to support me and Fabienne, and many other members of the engineering community facing similar situations.

To anyone who’s going through the same sorts of challenges I did, I’d say don’t delay in asking Foothold for support. They changed my life and my daughter’s, and they might just change yours too.

If you’re struggling with your mental health or your finances and you need someone to turn to, we may be able to provide you with a regular or one-off grant to help you get back in control.Visit our Support page to find out more.


Sign up to our mailing list to receive expert advice to help you improve your financial, mental and physical wellbeing, so that you can live well every day. We'll also send you the latest news and updates, and information on how you can get involved with Foothold and support the engineering community.

An image showing someone's hands holding a mobile phone. The phone is displaying a version of the Foothold monthly newsletter.
A branded blog header graphic that reads: 'Martin Griffin, engineer and neurodiversity advocate', with a picture of Martin smiling

Neurodiversity at work: How leaders and managers can support neurodiverse staff to thrive

Neurodivergent engineer Martin shares his some top tips to help leaders empower neurodiverse colleagues to thrive at work.

Working with ADHD: Thriving with FREE Help from Access to Work

Sam shares her experience with Access To Work and how it can help other engineers with neurodiversity.

“Making a meaningful and enduring difference” – your impact in 2022-23

Our CEO Jane shares her thoughts on how your support helped us make a real difference for engineers and their families around the world.