April course_central hall

Our Story

SAFE was started 25 years ago to address poverty and unemployment issues in and around the most deprived areas of Southampton. However, it became clear that mental health issues and low self-esteem/confidence lay at the root of people’s barriers to moving forward. The Choices course was developed and trialled using an expert team of clinical psychologists from Southampton University. They passionately believed that communities had the power to deliver much needed and effective cognitive therapy and training to those in need in the city. They were particularly interested in helping long term unemployed people as in-depth research had shown that the right intervention could help them to shake off habitual and long term negative attitudes and influences, regain employment and powerfully transform their lives.

Our Approach

Is based on the following statement from Professor Nick Maguire, Director of programmes, Psychology, Southampton University

To enable the community to deliver psychological services and psychological knowledge, which  the better that community will function

seeing new futures emerge

All courses provide a chance for everyone to think and list the blocks and barriers in their life, causing a loss of motivation and preventing them from moving forward. These blocks and barriers can feel like a “brick wall” and the course objective is to help find solutions to break through the wall.

Opposite is a typical wall  



Meet the Team

SAFE employs both paid trainers and voluntary workers to deliver the training. We have a strategy in place to ensure we train beneficiaries who have attended previous courses, so they can become Community Volunteer Facilitators in their own right. This encourages people to bring about mental health improvements within their own communities.


Over the last three years 15 volunteers have undertaken our training programme. This is creating a sustainable model for the charity with trained Volunteer Facilitators training further volunteers creating a ripple effect and a maximum reach to potential new beneficiaries

Nina Kelly


Nina has 30 years of experience in managing and delivering training programmes to create an effective and personalised experience for all. With a life-long passion for young people, combined with a proficiency in financial control, organisational and product development, Nina will oversee the project. She will liaise with the appropriate council, educational and charity bodies, ensuring ongoing support for the young people and a high standard of training delivery. Nina joined SAFE in September 2015 growing the organisation from 8 Choices courses per year reaching 80 people to last year running 35 courses reaching 350 people. She has brought efficiencies in the use of resources turning the charity from a deficit making position in 2014 to modest surpluses year on year since then.

Anthony Scammell

Chair. Board of Trustees

Anthony is Strategic Service Development Director for Old Mutual Wealth Management. He brings a wealth of experience in managing budget and staffing responsibilities. Anthony has a passion for community involvement and has been head of corporate social responsibility for OM Wealth and a governor of Solent University. Having been out visiting potential candidates for Choices courses, and then hearing the transformational stories that followed, Anthony was inspired to get more involved. He currently chairs the trustees at SAFE.

Steve Nicholls

Company Secretary. Board of Trustees)

Steve has over 25 years’ experience as a business analyst working in the insurance and roadside assistance business sectors. His work involves gathering, evaluating and challenging information in order to determine underlying business needs and champion business improvement. Having given nearly 10 years’ service to local Street Pastor initiatives, he has clearly seen the positive impacts that the church can make by listening, caring and helping. He has joined the SAFE trustees, as these are values that he can see underpinning the work of SAFE as they help people find new ways to improve their lives.



Michelle Hammerton

Training Manager 

Michelle is CMI level 7 qualified in coaching, mentoring, leadership and strategic project management. She is experienced at managing young people to achieve their potential, through setting and achieving life goals. Previously Learning and Development manager, at Lakesmere Envelope Specialists one of the largest employers in Winchester, Michelle was responsible for leading a company-wide training function with a team of 6 across the UK on multi-sites creating ‘The Leadership and Management Centre for excellence’ recognised by CMI.

Developed and implemented a coaching programme that includes action learning and PEER coaching, developing behaviours that stimulate an environment of high performance.
Developed a Talent Management strategy to sustain current and future capability, supporting business continuity and business growth.
Designed 360 feedbacks enabling increased awareness of self and development requirements.
Designed and implemented online learning as part of the on-boarding programme for new starters.
Supported Senior Management in facilitating organisational strategy development, determining clear objectives and KPIs.
Designed bespoke diplomas and competence frameworks that have been benchmarked against IIP, CMI, NCFE and FE alternatives, taking the organisation from IIP retained to gold.

Michelle will carry out the training and recruit and mentor volunteers on the youth training programme. She will also monitor course outcomes and ensure quality and all SAFE policies are adhered to. She will follow up with each individual post-course to make sure that individual ambitions become a reality. She has been delivering courses with SAFE since January 2018 with excellent response and engagement from all ages.







If you are interested in volunteering please follow the link below:

Jo Gibson

Freelance facilitator and volunteer

Jo has been volunteering with SAFE since November 2016 and has since become one of our trainers on the 3-day choices course (SAFE in partnership with SCC) Jo is a qualified teacher, has completed pastoral and counselling training, and sees her role at SAFE as combing all these skills. She has a passion for people, and always enjoys getting to know the candidates and working with them on the courses to help them achieve their life goals

Jacqui Hollick

Freelance facilitator and volunteer 

Jacqui has been involved, both as a staff member and a volunteer, since the very first course SAFE ran in 1994. For the last two years she has been running courses for adults at James Street Church in Southampton City Centre.

Norman Jones

Freelance facilitator and volunteer 

Norman has lost count of the number of adults’ courses he has facilitated on with SAFE and has now been involved for 15 years.

Zac Keu

Youth volunteer 

Zac is currently studying for a degree in Law at Solent university. Zac is great at building strong relationships with our younger candidates, he enjoys getting to know people on a personal level. Zac always asks good questions with genuine interest so candidates gain new insights about themselves, encouraging them to connect and speak out. Some candidates find socialising difficult, through Zac’s interactions it really helps to develop these important life skills. He is great at spotting candidates’ potential from listening to them talk about their experiences and passions. Zac loves learning new things and sharing his experiences which motivates the group into deep discussions. He is always enthusiastic and brings a lot of positive energy.


Michael Johnston

Freelance Safe Guarding officer and volunteer facilitator 

Michael came to SAFE as a candidate, leading on from this transformational experience Michael has become a SAFE volunteer facilitator and a freelance facilitator at the recovery college, using his experiences to help transform other people’s lives. Michael is also the SAFE safeguarding officer, sharing his NHS safeguarding training and knowledge he is responsible for ensuring the SAFE team is competent and confident in carrying out their responsibilities for safeguarding, promoting the welfare of everyone engaging with SAFE. Michael ensures SAFE workers and volunteers are aware of how to recognise and respond to safeguarding concerns whilst managing the safeguarding processes.


Sue Bartlett

Account Administrator  

Sue Joined SAFE in July 2015 as a Bookkeeper and Administrator. Sue has previously worked for several small companies but it is her first venture into the Charity Sector. Sue holds firmly to SAFE’s values ; in particular giving people second chances and providing opportunities, support and mentoring to help them re-engage with working life.
Sue works alongside the staff, trustees and accountants to ensure SAFE meets its charitable and legal commitments.
Sue enjoys jigsaws, running, distressing furniture, chocolate Hobnobs and helping to run a social group for people with early on-set Alzheimers.


Nick Strong

Board of Trustees  

Nick Strong is a franchise professional. He works with successful companies that scale their growth via the business format franchising model. Nick is an accredited Affiliate of the British Franchise Association. Nick has agreed to join the SAFE trustees as his passion about personal empowerment in business and the workplace for all.


Joining the SAFE team

If you are passionate about mental wellbeing and have an interest in helping people re-build their lives, please get in touch.