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Our Team

We have an amazing and hard-working team!

We are incredibly lucky to have an extremely dedicated and enthusiastic team, who go above and beyond to support our young people and find them opportunities to develop their skills within Better Lives Partnership and within their communities.

Supporting Opportunities for Staff!

Since opening, we have been able to provide a number of opportunities to support work placements within our own team! We have had two ‘KickStart’ Employees, two Social Media Interns through Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership, and an employee complete a Modern Apprenticeship in ‘Youth Work’. We have also provided a young person from Castle Douglas High School a work placement for their Foundation Apprenticeship and employed an Assistant Support Worker under the No-One Left Behind project.

Meet our Team

Carolyn Kennedy

Chief Executive

Carolyn has worked with BLP since it opened for young people in September 2017. Accountable to the Board of Trustees she is responsible for working with the Board to ensure clear strategic direction and the leadership of the Better Lives Partnership organisation and its projects.

Carolyn is passionate about young people being able to access the best opportunities and choices to suit their needs when they leave school and embark on their life journey.

“No two days are the same – the young people never disappoint – it is a real pleasure and privilege to be a part of this innovative project supporting our young people and their families to move onto their ‘next steps”

– Carolyn

Anne McEwan

Project Co-ordinator

Anne has been with Better Lives Partnership since January 2020. She worked as the Bridge to Business Support worker and then Team officer in Castle Douglas before starting her current function as Project Co-Ordinator.

As the Project Co-Ordinator, she is responsible for the day-to-day running of the Bridge to Employment project across the region. She enjoys seeing the learning and activities which are taking place across our three sites and watching staff and young people work together to help the young people achieve their personal outcomes.

“The best thing about Better Lives Partnership is the person-centred approach which allows everyone to shine in their own right.”

– Anne

Amanda Ansbro

Office Manager

Amanda is a key member of the Better Lives Team. She works to ensure the smooth running of BLP by helping everything tick behind the scenes. She works hard on all aspects of the charity from accounts and funding to stationary and telephones, recruitment and HR.

“Working at BLP is challenging but rewarding. Things run at a fast pace behind the scenes to keep up with our wonderful young people and our ambitious plans to provide opportunities for them. Although I’m not in the workroom, the young people regularly come to see me with their photocopying requests (and the odd piece of rocky road)!”

– Amanda

Karen O’Rourke

Team Officer- Stranraer

Karen has a wealth of experience working with young people as an English teacher, a Duke of Edinburgh Award leader and an Adult Volunteer with Police Scotland Youth Volunteers, and she has supported numerous community projects and local organisations. In her role, she supports the young people working through BLP’s programmes and achieving their goals.

“I must have the best job in the world! I meet so many amazing young people, their families, carers and friends. I really love being able to work so flexibly and creatively in order to achieve positive, tangible outcomes for our group here in Stranraer. We’re a great wee team!”

– Karen

Allison Davies

Team Officer- Castle Douglas

Allison began at the Castle Douglas site for Better Lives Partnership as a Team Officer in September 2022. Before coming to us she had experience as a Support for Learning Assistant for 15 years at Castle Douglas High School and worked at Dumfries and Galloway College supporting people there for a fixed term, as well as being a business student there as well.

“I am delighted to be working alongside Better Lives Castle Douglas as Team Officer and love working alongside our young people and their families. It lets me work in an environment I am passionate about and watching our young people develop skills whilst having fun needed to go forward in life.”

– Allison

Liz McWilliam

Team Officer- Dumfries

Liz started at Dumfries Better Lives Partnership when it launched in Dumfries in August 2021, starting as a Support worker and then progressed to Team Officer. Liz brings over 30 years of management, training and development experience to her role, she worked across Dumfries and Galloway as a Trainer, SVQ Assessor and Internal Verifier.

“It is a privilege working with the team in Dumfries, the young people, families and carers. I have the most amazing and creative job. We get to do many different activities and creative things. I have watched the young people develop their skills and confidence which is just amazing.”

– Liz

Megan Laurie

Senior Support Worker- Stranraer

Megan supports young people on their chosen qualification pathway as well as independent living skills. Megan organises social activities and opportunities for our young people to take part in and keeps an eye out for community programmes and activities they can become involved in. Megan also offers support with Open University coursework.

“I love that no 2 days are the same at BLP! We work with such a fantastic group of young people who are so unique in their learning styles and interests that one minute you can be dancing to ABBA, and the next you are sitting having an in-depth conversation about how many skittles you can fit in a car!”

– Megan

Claire Setz

Employability Support Worker- Castle Douglas

Claire is a support worker within our Castle Douglas team. She works with our young people delivering sessions and working within our Enterprise sessions, supporting them to create products to sell. She particularly enjoys supporting the young people with her cooking sessions and has introduced monthly group lunches into our timetable.

“I have several experiences working with children who have autism and their families. I always felt that this was a very rewarding job, working at BLP brings me the same job satisfaction. Being able to offer help and support to young people on the next part of their journey”.

– Claire

Debbie Templeton

Employability Support Worker- Dumfries

Debbie is an excellent addition to the Dumfries workroom, supporting the young people with their chosen qualification pathway. She teaches sessions and helps our young people gain qualifications in Animal care and Independent living. Debbie is also signed up as a Duke of Edinburgh Co-ordinator and be leading our young people in gaining their certificates.

“I love working for BLP getting to know all our young people and getting to see them progress is amazing. For me, this is the most rewarding job and definitely feel it’s where I belong. There is no better feeling than knowing you have made a difference to a young person or their family. “

– Debbie

Lauren Johnstone

Employability Support Worker- Stranraer

Lauren joined BLP in August 2022 as an Employability Support Worker in  Stranraer. Her main role is teaching the Young People employability skills such as interview preparation, CV writing, and identifying their own personal and work based skills and qualities to help them ready themselves for progression into further education, work placements or employment.

“I enjoy my role at BLP as I find the work with the Young People is very rewarding, I particularly enjoy seeing the young people realise their own potential and see them grow in confidence.”

– Lauren

Katie Nolan

Employability Support Worker- Dumfries

Katie joined the team officially in July 2023 but has been with us since Dumfries opened back in 2021 as a PA. She has been an essential addition to the team with her bright and bubbly personality. As a Support Worker she sees the potential in the young people and will 100% support them to reach their goals, this makes her a great fit at BLP.

“I believe when we support each other incredible things can happen! Plus working here is like the saying choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

– Katie

Sally-Ann Sharp

Communications Officer

Sally-Ann joined the team in June 2023. Having previously worked in marketing she has a keen eye for digital media. She covers all aspects of communications including social media, advertising, website admin and photography. She can be seen working on any task that showcases the wonderful work here at Better Lives Partnership.

“Since starting at Better Lives the staff have all welcomed me as part of the team. Every day is different and keeps you on your toes, you never feel stuck. The young people are great and have some fantastic personalities.”

– Sally-Ann

Monika Singh

Administrative Assistant

Monika helps and supports the Stranraer team to ensure all the necessary back-office duties are in hand. This helps to enable the team to give the maximum time and energy to the Young People. 

“ I love working in such an amazing and passionate team. They give their ALL to support the Young people,  enabling them to be the best they can be. Knowing I am a small part of that is the best part of my role.”

– Monika

Kirsty Patterson

Administrative Assistant

Kirsty provides administrative support to the BLP team including ordering and invoicing. Kirsty also supports our Dumfries team relating to the Young Person’s Guarantee scheme.

“At BLP I have felt very welcomed by my colleagues and the young people and I feel valued as part of the BLP team. It makes me happy to see the young people enjoying their time with us and when they have positive experiences with the support from BLP!”

– Kirsty

Nadia Anderson

Outreach & Employability Support Worker- Dumfries

Nadia joined the Dumfries team in August 2023. She has fitted into the team perfectly and is a great asset to have. Her role of Outreach & Employability Support Worker can see her busy in the workroom, showing the young people new activities. She has a keen creative side and enjoys crocheting different objects and animals, which is something we can see the young people being
interested in.

“Both staff and young people have been very welcoming since I have started and I have enjoyed getting to know the young people, finding out their likes, interests, and unique ways of learning. I am very excited to see what this new adventure brings. So far it has been amazing!”

– Nadia

Mel Kalkan

Employability Support Worker- Castle Douglas

Mel has worked in various SEN provisions supporting young people with their education and personal development. As an Employability Support Worker for the Castle Douglas workroom, her role currently involves leading weekly Work-Based Skills, Cooking, and Enterprise sessions. She also regularly supports smaller groups of young people with a variety of ASDAN accreditations. Mel has a creative background and loves bringing elements of creativity to our sessions in the workroom.

“It’s an absolute pleasure to work with the young people who attend Better Lives. Their energy, insight and fantastic sense of humour makes for a wonderful dynamic in the workroom.”

– Mel

Bea Last

Professional Creative Practitioner

Bea works on all things creative here at Better Lives Partnership. From organising creative workshops, and bringing in other professional artists to run workshops, to helping individual young people with their own creative projects and developing their skills.

“The best part of working at Better Lives is the young people! It’s been a pleasure getting to know them individually and to be able to offer creativity as a way forward for well-being”

– Bea

Claire Starritt

Administration Assistant

Claire is an Administration Assistant based in Castle Douglas, though doing work for all our sites. They have previously worked as an Assistant Support Worker with us for nearly two years (and did some volunteering before that!) in both Castle Douglas and Dumfries, before moving on to their current role. Claire greases a lot of wheels to help keep everything turning, including working on requisitions, collating data for use by the team, and any number of odd jobs around the office.

“The work we do here at The Better Lives Partnership is invaluable and fulfilling, for both the young people and the staff. Watching the young people come into their own is truly rewarding.”

– Claire

Danya McClorey

Employability Support Worker- Stranraer

Danya is a Support Worker in our Stranraer Team and supports our young people to gain qualifications and learn life skills which will help with their independence in the future. She is an autism advocate, who thrives on meeting the needs of our young people with innovative ways to help them overcome challenges and succeed.

“ I am lucky to be part of a fantastic group of staff and volunteers who really enjoy working with our wonderful group of Young People. I love supporting each person’s individual learning style and seeing them achieve. Each day brings new surprises, lots of laughs and usually a new TikTok dance to learn!

– Danya

Mary Burns

Assistant Support Worker- Castle Douglas

During Mary’s time here she has built a great bond with the young people and made many brilliant memories with a variety of days out. Mary loves her role here as she get to support the young people on their own personal journeys and help them achieve their individual goals.

“I had the opportunity to start a job here through the kick-start programme as I’ve always had an interest in working with children and young people.”

– Mary

Kerri Simpson

Assistant Support Worker- Stranraer

Kerri is a great addition to the Stranraer team. She brings lots of energy to each and every day which has a positive impact on the young people she supports. Working with the young people makes you adapt to each situation that is thrown your way which Kerri takes in her stride.

“I thoroughly enjoy working at BLP. I have loved getting to know all the young people, it is very rewarding working with them all. No matter how you are feeling, working at BLP always makes you feel happy it’s such a positive place to work.”

– Kerri

Lara Donnelly

Assistant Support Worker- Stranraer

Lara works in Stranraer where, amongst many other things, she uses her skills in the kitchen to support the Independent Living strand of our curriculum.  She has developed strong, positive relationships with our young people.

“Since starting work at Better Lives I feel like part of a dedicated team.  All the staff at have hearts of gold and really support the young people with their education and their social skills. Each day working with the young adults I learn something new! No matter how you are feeling working at BLP puts a smile on your face.”

– Lara

Want to work with us?

You can find all our current vacancies on our website!

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