Better Together making a tangible impact in Bedford

Group photo of partners sat at tables, listening to the customer engagement team

On 3 October, bpha held its second Better Together event for local partners who, provide a range of opportunities for the people of Bedford. The themes were wellbeing, funding and volunteering.

Partners shared success stories and met like-minded organisations to discuss current and future projects. Our combined efforts, in and around Bedford, have never been more important, as communities continue to face a range of challenges, not least through the cost of living.

With that in mind, we were delighted to welcome speakers including from Ethnic Food Bank and Be Active. The organisations connected at the first ‘Better Together’ event, in March, which enabled their projects to benefit local communities much quicker.


Effective partnership working is having a positive effect in improving the physical and mental wellbeing of local people. Speakers included Russell Beard, High Sherriff of Bedfordshire who shared the work of the Gale Family Trust; Ian Howarth who gave an update on how Bedfordshire Fire Service carries out ‘safe and well’ checks with the help of volunteers; and Ian Brown, Chief Officer for Public Health, shared Bedford Borough’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy.

A particularly poignant moment was when Helena Pountney, bpha’s Domestic Abuse Lead, spoke about supporting victims and survivors of domestic abuse. She played a recording from a survivor of 30 years of domestic abuse who described the aftermath of local agencies coming together to help her as ‘a miracle’.

Funding and volunteering

Funding and volunteering are essential to providing services that support wellbeing. We heard from Kirsty Docherty of Bell Group about supporting community projects, including the recently launched Kingswell Community Hub. And Ruth Preece of Bedford Borough Council and Sarah Ross of Kings Oak School spoke about the positive impact that projects have on local people, from making friends thorough volunteering to developing a career through a Teaching Assistant training programme.

With the event taking place in October, Black History Month, it was a great opportunity to celebrate black culture and contributions to British society and infrastructure with a presentation and quiz by bpha Community Engagement Officer, Pauline Stepney. And we welcomed poet Anthea Barclay who performed her powerful work ‘My Manifesto’.

bpha CEO, Richard Hill: “It’s heartening to hear from multiple organisations that share the same goals and do such positive work in communities in and around Bedford. However, what makes this event special is the outcomes – I spoke to many guests and speakers who accessed information and funding sources at the previous event just a few months ago, that helped make projects happen. Thanks to the inspiring speakers, engaged guests and bpha’s Community Engagement team, who organised today’s events. I think we’re well on the way to achieving many more positive outcomes this time around.”

If you are part of an organisation that would like to know more about partnering with bpha, or attending a future ‘Better Together’ event, please email