A Middlesbrough-based social enterprise has appointed a hospitality expert with a reputation for ‘business turnarounds’ and removing barriers to change as its general manager as the charity looks to further develop its offering to the North East.

Recovery Connections Enterprise Ltd: Incorporating, The Fork in the Road Cafe, The Fork in the Road – Stage One, Bloom Florists and 131 The Venue, welcomed Neil Slade to the team in September where he has already helped to make some strategic changes to drive the enterprise and service offering forward. 

Tasked with overseeing daily operational activities as well as leading the wider business functions including policy, finance and growth, Neil champions positive people development, supporting volunteers to make confident changes to their lives while offering them a step up, into the world of employment. 

Born in Middlesbrough, Neil has built an impressive career, spanning thirty years in the hospitality sector and including managerial positions at renowned hotels and spas across the UK. Recent achievements include attaining the prestigious 5-star award at Cornwall’s iconic Headland Hotel and securing the inclusion of Beadnell Towers in Northumberland within the Sunday Times’ ‘Top 100 best places to stay’.

Neil is a passionate supporter of the voluntary sector where he has devoted years of service to the UK Scout Association and others where he champions people and their ability to diversify in challenging circumstances – a key strength in the ongoing pandemic.

Neil said: “ I’m delighted to be joining Recovery Connections where I can help to create a positive and successful community-based social enterprise hub through lived experience whilst promoting positive people power. I’m also really looking forward to being closer to my family in the North East and it’s great to be back in Middlesbrough.

“I began my career in hospitality at the age of just 11, helping in a local family-run hotel, and have been lucky to work at some outstanding venues. To bring that knowledge to the Recovery Connections family and make a positive difference in my hometown is an honour.”

The impact of Covid has meant that Neil’s initial weeks at Recovery Connections have been focused on the current model as he revisits the original foundations and begins to rebuild the social enterprise hub by reaching out to the brilliant community base in the heart of Middlesbrough. 

Dot Smith, CEO of Recovery Connections, said: “Neil is a fantastic addition to the organisation. His energy, enthusiasm and expertise in hospitality management gained over his career will be a real asset. We welcome him on board and look forward to seeing his passion for the region and our charity aims take our Social Enterprise hub to even greater success.”  

Recovery Connections Enterprise is part of the Recovery Connections Family, a peer-led, substance use recovery organisation and registered charity based in Middlesbrough. Founded in 2008 by members of the local recovery community, the organisation also has teams in Gateshead and Stockton, working as part of Gateshead Recovery Partnership and Stockton Recovery Service respectively. 

It offers a range of opportunities that support people to build recovery capital and achieve lasting positive change, focusing on individual strengths and providing a ‘do with’ rather than a ‘do for’ approach to support, a value which is mirrored in the work of Recovery Connections Enterprises.

Find out more at https://www.recoveryconnections.org.uk/.