“If you find the courage to reach out to RISE I can only promise good things”- Michael’s journey on the RISE Project

“If you find the courage to reach out to RISE I can only promise good things”- Michael’s journey on the RISE Project
Ever wondered what the RISE journey can look like for our participants across the programme? Today we’re sharing Michael’s experience of working with York Mind & Keyworker Ben, on everything from employability to mental health support.  Michael has come on leaps and bounds from his initial meeting with Ben, read his story in his own words down below- 


What did your life look like when you joined the RISE programme?


I was a 30-year old living at home with my parents with no job or friends. I believed my social anxiety would shackle me for the rest of my life. I was scared to go outside and even look at people as I was so devoid of self-belief. I despised myself. I was aimless, lonely and bitter rueing my choices in life. I had zero self-confidence and left wondering about my worth and ability. I felt I was at an age where I felt I should be married with kids, a house and a burgeoning career and because I felt so far away from that reality, I labelled myself a failure and inherited all the negative energy that comes with that label. I’m still 30 but after a few months at RISE, I feel like I’m at a turning point for the better.


What has your journey through the RISE programme looked like?


From my first meeting with Ben, the first goal was trying to establish trust and connection with him. Ben was warm, kind and understanding – that made it really easy to be open and reveal my honest thoughts, struggles and history. He understood the challenges I’ve been through and challenged me to question negative thoughts about myself. He made a safe space for me to release my thoughts and emotions where before I had nowhere and let them fester and affect me negatively. After establishing that trust, my emotional well-being was on the rise which made the prospect of work/employment very attainable. Where before I felt I was in a vicious circle, I now felt I’d happily fallen into a happy(?) circle. I now look forward to each session knowing progress will be made.


What have you learnt about yourself whilst on RISE?


I’ve learned that I have more worth than I think I do… that, erroneously, I’m more likely to think negatively and diminish my own achievements and put others’ on a pedestal rather than acknowledge the positive things I’ve done and have respect for myself. It’s a human trait and it’s a blind spot we all have. I’ve learned that I am capable of many things which before I believed only ‘better’ people could only achieve. I’ve come to believe I’m neither inferior or superior to anyone – we’re equal and my first job is to respect and learn to love myself, otherwise who will?. That’s the perfect base to build off of. Of course I’m not cured and I don’t think I ever will be in a sense. I do, will and have fallen back into a negative space but this programme has given me an insight into what I am capable of and that it is a real possibility. Ben has taught me to think in a way that when I do fall into a hole, I have the knowledge and tools to get back up.


What sort of support have you received through RISE?


Of course emotional support has been key along with excellent employment support. Ben has helped me to establish short-term and long-term career goals and also to create a CV that enhances my employment prospects. Having these goals and something to aim for really puts weight and meaning to the centre of my life and has acted as a springboard to my mental well-being. The counselling and job support have been balanced seamlessly and been dealt with in a safe, constructive and gentle manner. I have neither felt rushed or pressured and I’ve felt that the trust that I’ve garnered with Ben has motivated me to improve and challenge myself.


If someone out there needed support, what would you say to them?


If you find the courage to reach out to RISE I can only promise good things. Each week feels like a victory no matter how small you may think. Also, take small, kind steps. I reached out to my mum first which led to a GP visit who referred me to a social prescriber who then referred me to RISE. Sounds like a lot and a hassle, but it wasn’t at all. It just felt like a sequence of simple steps where in each case people were eager to help. Throughout, it all helped and felt constructive and I actually felt I was getting better. But my time at RISE really felt like a ‘a-HA!’ moment – which made me question why I didn’t reach out sooner. I’d have never imagined the trajectory I’d be on after being ridden in shame and isolating myself, too proud to seek help. Finding that mote of courage to seek help feels like the biggest catch. If you be honest with yourself and trade some pride for support, I promise easier days. RISE has given me belief I didn’t think I had; I wish you the same. Good luck to you 🙂


A huge thank you to Michael for sharing your experience with us!

If you’d like to learn more about RISE, you can visit our project page, watch our latest case study, or contact the RISE team directly using the information below. Also be sure to watch out for another blog in the coming weeks, which will centre on Ben’s experience as a Keyworker on the RISE project! 









Laura Sandiford

Post by Laura Sandiford

Impact Coordinator

A keen storyteller, collaborator and engagement enthusiast, 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