Support, guidance, advice and mentoring

People United helps and supports individuals and organisations, large and small.  We work with arts organisations, voluntary organisations, community groups, local and national government, and individual artists.

We are an organisation with extensive experience of thinking, reflecting and running innovative projects; and we are keen to help others to develop their own work. We do not run projects for people; but we listen, advise, inspire, challenge and guide, so they can deliver their own programmes more effectively.

The most popular areas of guidance that we are involved in are:

  • Community engagement (including replication of our projects in different contexts)
  • Research and evaluation
  • Values in practice (within an organisation)
  • As a sounding board and critical friend
  • Talks and presentations

We also offer specialist courses and programmes as outlined below:

  • Away Days (Reflection Days in Canterbury)
  • Mentoring Scheme  

Away Days 

Supporting groups and organisations

Since 2011, we have created special Away Days for individuals and institutions, sharing our ethos of creativity and kindness. Many people working for social change and within the arts sector are really busy; we offer a chance to pause for thought and plan for tomorrow.

Our Away Days take place in Canterbury, Kent (under one hour from London by train). Canterbury is a creative and inspiring city, “The loveliest place on earth”, according to Virginia Woolf. Writers, artists and thinkers have visited for centuries, and found a place of spiritual peace and natural and architectural beauty.

Led by Founder and Associate, Tom Andrews, our team will look after your wellbeing and make this gathering a bit of a treat. As well as time in modern meeting spaces at Canterbury Innovation Centre, we will show you secret gardens, woodland walks and ancient buildings, and introduce you to seasonal produce and homemade cakes.

Our Away Days are designed in advance with you but with flexibility built in. Food, equipment, facilitation, accommodation (if needed) and note-taking are all taken care of by People United. A final report will be produced along with an optional follow-up meeting.

We have found that these days are an excellent opportunity for individuals to connect, to reflect, to develop ideas together, and to plan practical next steps.

To find out more and check availability and costs, please contact our Operations Manager, Charlotte at [email protected] or call 01227 811800.

I came away from our away day with People United with renewed energy and passion for the work we do in the Participation Team at Southbank Centre, but what was even better was knowing the whole team shared this energy and felt hugely motivated to take forward the ideas we had developed together. It was so valuable to have time away together to reflect and interrogate our work, whilst celebrating our values and working together. We immediately came back to work and put changes in places. The day allowed and encouraged us to think about real ideas that were achievable yet ambitious.             Jessica Santer, 
Head of Participation, Southbank Centre

People United hosted an away day for our small Happy Museum team over two days in Canterbury.  Their careful facilitation, and attention to our wellbeing, created a positive, energising and memorable framing which encouraged us have an extremely open and fruitful discussion about our plans for the future.  Hilary Jennings, Director, Happy Museums

Arts and Kindness Mentoring Programme

Supporting creative pioneers in Kent

I valued being able to take a step back from the day to day working life and appreciate and reflect on all of the things I have achieved in the past 12 months. It was a day that I will always treasure.  2017/18 Participant

This is a unique 6-month personal and professional development programme supporting individuals living or working in Kent to make a positive difference in their communities through creativity.

Through our work across the community and cultural sectors we have met many individuals making a difference within their organisations, their schools and their neighbourhoods.  Many people have expressed a need to:-

  •  share ideas, hopes and fears
  • connect with ‘like-minded’ individuals
  • learn from more experienced colleagues
  •  take time to step back, to reappraise and reflect.

The programme aims to meet these needs, providing a safe environment for sharing and critical thinking. Participants are nurtured and supported, which in turn builds the creative and social potential of Kent. Following nominations and informal interviews, we launched our first pilot scheme in September 2017. The nine individuals include a filmmaker, an artist and environmentalist, an assistant headteacher, a community worker, an artist working in community settings, an art teacher, a neighbourhood organiser, a record producer/singer songwriter and youth worker and a producer.

What happens?

We bring together the participants from across Kent for three Away-Days in Canterbury over the course of a 6-month period. Each participant is assigned with an experienced mentor who they meet throughout the duration of the programme, and who supports their personal and professional goals. These goals feed into the development of a new initiative devised by participants that benefits the wider community, often setting in motion a new approach. Participants become part of People United’s community of practice, benefitting from ongoing support, resources and a network of peers.

The programme is based on People United’s philosophy and research that the arts have a unique potential to grow the conditions that lead to kindness, civic participation and social cohesion.

I appreciated the variety of skills and experiences in the room, yet each member seemed to have a shared commitment to community which was really exciting.  2017/18 Participant

The 2018/2019 Arts and Kindness Mentoring Programme is now open for nominations. We do not accept direct applications for the scheme but through nominations. If you know anyone who would benefit from this scheme, please contact us  with brief details about yourself and who you are nominating and why. Participants will be based or delivering work in Kent, be committed to creative or arts practice that has a social benefit (this might be through delivering, organising or inspiring), and have a minimum of 3 years’ experience in developing work that helps others. The scheme has very limited spaces and we will take forward nominations based on securing a cohort mix of background, geographical location and role.

Please get in touch to find out more

The defining characteristics of our guidance is our emphasis on starting with the positive, taking time to reflect and listen, being open and flexible, not pretending we know all the answers and being enthusiastic for imaginative change. These are typically led by Founder Associate Tom Andrews, Head of Creative Programmes Sarah Fox or one of our other associates (depending on your needs and requirements).

Whilst much of our advice is free, there is a charge for our consultancy work, such as our away days or evaluation.  If you would like to find out more, we’d be really happy to talk things through with you informally please contact us.