Better Connections – Peer Support Session 3

Better Connections – Peer Support Session 3





On an icy January morning, a group of RISE partners braved the weather to meet in Selby for our third peer support meeting. Following on from the first two events, which focused mainly on open discussions amongst the keyworkers and intervention partners, we wanted to do something a little different for this one…

We were delighted to welcome former Better Connect CEO and holistic wellbeing teacher Sam Alexander-Vasey to the session. She joined us through the whole day, guiding us through various practices included guided intentional breathing, Qigong exercises and grounding meditations. The really nice touch was how she peppered these throughout the course of the day, providing a nice segue between different activities. Many who attended commented on this, saying it brought a really different, positive energy to the event, helping us all become calm, present and engaged in the day.

In addition, after lunch, Sam gave us an illuminating presentation all about the theory behind the practices she shared with us. She explained how the body’s evolved fight or flight response causes stress, how focusing on both the body and the mind is important in wellbeing, and so much more besides. The practical activities combined with the theory-driven teaching gave everybody a powerful toolkit of ideas and practices which they could take away to use in their own lives and work.

We felt this was a great thing to offer our RISE programme staff. They work exceptionally hard to help their participants in every way they can. As we heard during the open forum portion of the event, the issues they are dealing with are only getting more prevalent and complex over time, and they have less resources at their disposal than they did on the ATI project. Naturally, as anyone who works front-line with complex people will know, it’s impossible not to take some of these issues home with you and worry about the human beings you are working with. Offering some simple but effective mindful practices was our way of helping alleviate some of that stress.

The delivery staff can now also pass on this fantastic practical and theoretical learning to their participants as part of their offer. Anyone on RISE who is struggling currently, with financial worries for instance, could really benefit from learning some strategies to help manage their anxiety in day-to-day life, which is a vital skill you can utilise at any time, no matter your situation.

Based on the continued success of the RISE peer support network, we’re pleased to say we’ll be rolling them forwards, running a final RISE one in March and then continuing the format across future programmes. Our motivation for doing this is simple – if we can support the frontline staff who make these projects happen, they will be more happy, engaged and connected, giving the programme participants the very best possible experience.


Read about our first two peer support events here:

November’s – Better Connect(ions) – Peer Support Meeting Two – Better Connect

September’s – Better Connections- Wellbeing for Keyworkers – Better Connect

Joe McKenzie

Post by Joe McKenzie

Programme Manager



Joe is the Programme Manager on both Rise2Thrive and SHINE.

He manages partners on the programme, supporting them to achieve targets and ensuring high quality delivery. He most enjoys seeing first-hand all the incredible work partners do with their participants in the community.

Learn more about Joe