With video: RISE programme is transforming lives in York

A groundbreaking programme is proving to be life changing for adults who face barriers to employment.
RISE (Reducing Inequalities, Supporting Employment) is a support programme that offers one-to-one advice and employability support, empowering those involved to overcome both personal and professional challenges.

These include; unemployment, mental health issues, physical health challenges, autism and neurodivergence, financial struggles, domestic abuse, housing instability, basic skills and training needs, inclusion and diversity concerns, and support for self-employment and carers/people in care.

Funded by City of York Council through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, so far this programme has helped 65 people from various backgrounds boost their confidence so they can go to work. The average amount of time each individual gets support for is 11 weeks, with every person giving the programme 5 out of 5. The project has proven so successful that the council, using UK Shared Prosperity Funding has agreed to extend the programme for another year.

63 per cent of those the programme has supported so far disclosed themselves as a disabled person or had a work-limiting condition. 54 per cent lived in jobless households and 23 per cent had dependents at home.

The programme combines emotional support with practical employability guidance. The programme has successfully helped participants like Michael, a 30-year-old who, prior to joining RISE, struggled with social anxiety and unemployment, “I was scared to go outside and even look at people.” With 67% of participants disclosing a mental health condition, RISE’s success in addressing such challenges and fostering emotional well-being is evident in Michael’s story.

Ben, Michael’s mentor, played a pivotal role in building trust and fostering Michael’s emotional well-being. Michael highlights, “Ben was warm, kind, and understanding – that made it really easy to be open and reveal my honest thoughts, struggles, and history. After establishing that trust, my emotional well-being was on the rise, which made the prospect of work/employment very attainable. Ben has taught me to think in a way that when I do fall in a hole, I have the knowledge and tools to get back up.”

In addition to emotional support, RISE provides much needed employment support, helping individuals set short-term and long-term career goals, as well as creating effective CVs that enhance employment prospects. Michael reflects on his progress, “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 wellbeing.”

Another person to benefit from the programme is Kate who reached out to RISE after deciding to become a dental health nurse. Her mentor has been helping her get the necessary functional skills as well as providing CV feedback. Watch Kate’s story on this video

Cllr Pete Kilbane, Deputy Leader of City of York Council and Executive Member for Economy and Transport, said: “This is a great initiative that is making a real difference, supporting residents into employment by helping them overcome the barriers they are facing.

“It has been inspiring to hear about the successes of this programme and I want to thank everyone involved in offering this invaluable support to the people of York. This programme is our Council Plan in action, by helping people develop their skills, they can land good quality jobs, as well as improve life chances and wellbeing, which is transformational.”

“I am pleased that this programme is continuing into 2025 and know that it will continue its amazing work.”

RISE is managed by Knaresborough based not for profit organisation, Better Connect.

Hannah Prole – Impact Manager at Better Connect said: “We are delighted to be able to continue our RISE programme in York. This programme enables our delivery partner organisations to continue the amazing work that they do in their local communities, transforming lives and moving people closer to the labour market”

Angela Padfield – Head of Adult Learning at York Learning said: “The teams here at York Learning are extremely pleased to be continuing delivery of the RISE programme.   We have found it has been hugely beneficial to local residents, to help them build confidence whilst improving their mental wellbeing and feelings of self-belief.  RISE has helped participants to recognising their existing skills as well as learning new skills and move back or closer to employment.”

To find out more about the project visit:

RISE is one of 25 projects taking place in the city, using UK Shared Prosperity Fund money. City of York Council has invested 98% of its UKSPF allocation so far (£1.8m) to fund initiatives that range from business support, supporting the voluntary sector to helping boost skills and help people into work as well as invest in our high streets.