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New programme launches to help economically inactive individuals in York and North Yorkshire

A programme has just launched in the region providing specialist support to unemployed individuals who face barriers that significantly impact their ability to engage with employment.

Yorkshire-based non-profit organisation, Better Connect, are on a mission to create a happier and more inclusive Yorkshire where everyone is empowered to thrive in their life and work have secured funding from the UK Government, City of York Council and North Yorkshire Council to run the RISE (Reducing Inequalities, Supporting Employment) programme, through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. 

The programme comes at a time when the number of economically inactive individuals in the UK has been increasing. A report from UK Parliament earlier this year showed that economic inactivity has been increasing in the UK since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Whilst many other countries saw rises in economic activity after lockdowns were introduced, according to the report, the UK is the only country in the G7 to see rates continuing to rise. 

Natasha Babar-Evans, CEO at Better Connect commented: “Economically inactive individuals, refers to people who are unemployed and aren’t looking for employment. In many cases, individuals are facing serious barriers preventing them from accessing employment, such as physical or mental health conditions, debt, caring responsibilities or lacking qualifications. We hope to help as many individuals as we can in the region facing this reality through the RISE programme. 

“We developed RISE based on the legacy of the successful Action Towards Inclusion programme which we ran until June this year. During the length of the programme, we worked with over 2000 participants in the region offering tailored support across a wide range of areas including; help with managing money, debt advice along with access to funding for interview clothes, mental health and wellbeing check-ins, counselling and therapy sessions, wellbeing activities, tailored training and funded college courses as well as one-to-one advice, support and mentorship.”

Better Connect has proudly partnered with various organisations to deliver the RISE programme in local communities including, The Opportunity Centre, Art Therapy Yorkshire, Autism Plus, Citizens Advice North Yorkshire, Beyond Housing, Carers Plus, Craven College, Foundation, Futureworks, Go4it, Humankind Charity, North Yorkshire Sport, Orb, Rural Arts, Up For Yorkshire, Yorkshire in Business, WEA, Yorkshire Energy Doctor, York Learning, Kyra Women’s Project and York Mind.

Joe McKenzie, Programme Manager on the RISE project added: “We’re so proud to be running this fantastic programme in the local region. We’re offering a wide array of tailored support to participants, each also receiving one-to-one support via an appointed keyworker, who will continue to support and motivate participants and ensure the support programme being provided meets each individual’s needs and helps to break down specific barriers they are facing. 

“We’re really lucky to be working with some amazing partners to deliver various areas of support including therapy and counselling, financial support, housing support, wellbeing activities, basic skills qualifications, vocational training and more.

“We want to encourage anyone in North Yorkshire or York finding themselves in a situation where they are facing barriers to getting into employment or training to get in touch with us. Although the programme aims to ultimately help participants move towards a position of employability, the combination of support we’re offering is designed to help improve people’s health and wellbeing, confidence, skills and personal circumstances in their personal lives too.” 

To find out more about the RISE programme, visit Better Connect’s website:

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About Better Connect Founded in 2007, Better Connect is a Knaresborough-based non-profit organisation that aims to create a Yorkshire where every person is empowered to thrive in their life and work. With an established track record of leading successful partnership projects and working with a range of locally based partners in the heart of Yorkshire communities, Better Connect partners with organisations across all sectors, with a particular focus and specialism of supporting and strengthening organisations from the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector. The National Lottery Community Fund is the largest community funder in the UK. Better Connect are proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to 6 of 8 Section nine: Publicity (v13.0 31 January 2019) communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Since June 2004, Better Connect have made over 200,000 grants and awarded over £9 billion to projects that have benefited millions of people. Better Connect are privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life. Website:  About the RISE project RISE (Reducing Inequalities, Supporting Employment), is a support programme for adults in North Yorkshire and York who are currently out of work and have barriers to engaging with employment and/or training. Through RISE, individuals receive tailored 1-2-1 advice, mentoring and employability support, and have access to specific interventions designed to help break down barriers. This combination of support is designed to improve people’s health, confidence, skills, circumstances and ultimately their employability, moving them closer towards a position where they are thriving in their life and in work. RISE is funded by the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity fund (UKSPF). The programme began mid-May 2023 and initially runs to the end of March 2024 with the possibility of continuation funding.

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