Better Connections – Peer Support Meeting Two

Better Connections – Peer Support Meeting Two


A couple of weeks ago, Better Connect hosted the second Peer Support meeting for the RISE partnership.

Held at the Wesley Centre in Harrogate (a known community-hub) it was a great second opportunity for our partners to network, trouble-shoot, and engage in a group art therapy session. With the Peer Support tool still in its early stages, I was keen to join the discussion and capture the impact of cross partner collaboration.

The session started with the usual introductions, ample opportunity for catchups & a fun fact to break the ice before the partnership got to talking RISE. We talked the pros and cons of RISE’s shorter support time, the severity and breadth of barriers keyworkers are supporting their participants with, and how we, at Better Connect can embed a wellbeing framework (such as supervision or counselling) for our partners into any future programmes.

The suggestion of a collaborative online forum where partners can share resources, activities and intervention availability also reared its head, as did excitement about the prospect of a York & North Yorkshire Rise 2 Thrive partnership programme, combining the RISE & Thriving at Work support models.

It was great to see the RISE partners connecting, sharing experiences, and engaging in an art therapy session, an activity which offered chance to decompress and process some of the feelings which accompany Key-working for our partners.

Mid-session, I caught up with a few of our partners and asked them about their experience working on the RISE project, here’s what they had to say:


Grainne Hillery, York Learning Project Manager



‘’I’ve really loved it (…) we quite like it being a shorter time scale in a way as it’s more focused on employability, doing practical skills. We look at past experiences – even when someone has been sick or has been a parent, people can forget what they’re good at (…) I love getting people to recognise the skills that they have (…) Seeing the shift in them is wonderful. Without the funding the potential of those people would be dormant- the person who is on the verge of  getting a job. It is vital. We’d love to do RISE2THRIVE’’.




Gemma O’Connell & Barbara Grant, Orb Community Arts



‘’We’d be lost without it definitely. I think the outcomes are much better on RISE. In terms of recognising that people make progress in loads of different ways. The project outcomes and outputs kind of show the journey that participants have been on in a way that ATI didn’t- things like recognising the impact of volunteering has been massive’’

‘’ I think the joy of these type of partnership meetings is being able to sit around a table and say, ‘right, I’ve got an issue with this or there’s a gap in the market for this, or where do I go for this? What would you recommend?’’




Oliver Lewis, Community Works                         



‘’Other projects are very straightaway employability focused, and the ability to sit down and help go through all the different problems participants have got, and try to get them to a position where they’re comfortable, and then able to consider going back to work is really good. I think RISE is the same as ATI in that sense..’’







A huge thank you to everyone who attended our second Peer Support Meeting! Be sure to keep an eye out for the next if you’d like to have a hand in the discussion & helping shape our future programme models.

Check out our RISE page for more information & read our RISE2THRIVE West Yorkshire application if you’re interested in becoming part of a partnership network as a delivery organisation.

Laura Sandiford

Post by Laura Sandiford

Impact Coordinator

A keen storyteller & collaborator, Laura works alongside Hannah as the Impact Coordinator, where she measures and highlights the impact of Better Connect across its business, programmes, and partnerships. She does so by working with a range of people to gather information and stories, which she then translates into engaging content across Better Connect’s channels.

Building relationships and networks is a large part of Laura’s role, alongside ensuring the ‘’Better Connect story’’ is woven throughout all communications.

Laura’s favourite part of the role is connecting with the faces behind the case studies and giving voice to their experiences.

Learn more about Laura