Seeing a future emerge:

2018 funding from the ESF will enable seven SAFE candidates to improve their IT skills. SAFE is partnering with Brockenhurst College to deliver a bespoke course that will help our candidates to progress into the job market, breaking down barriers and building confidence! Watch this space!

Case study from the ESF project Aug-Nov 2018 


The Choices course reinforced the 16 Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) sessions I had last year to overcome my agoraphobia. This has been more in-depth though and has gone into my childhood and how that has affected my adulthood. It has also focused on overcoming my negative thinking and smart values and designed around getting me out, so I can progress to work. I gave up work to care for my mum and there has been lots of bereavement through the family over the past 10 years. The process of caring for her was very difficult, dealing with services and other people, and then feeling really strange when she passed away and feeling ineligible and terrified of benefits and the job centre. That was five years ago. I didn’t talk about it and I was very hermit like and got into the pattern of hiding my anxiety and depression. I never went out and used taxis if I had to. Just to go to corner shop which is 5 minutes away was insurmountable. I had an initial assessment with Steps to Well being and I scored high. I also finally confessed to friends and relatives. Listening to other people on this course and hearing what hard lives they have had, even though they were completely different to mine, helped me to talk because I knew they would understand. I never used to use public transport, but I have come to this course on the bus. It was hard going into a group of strange people that I’ve never met before but because it is an informal environment, that releases a lot of pressure. You know you can get up and walk out if you have to. We get to know each other and can pick up when people are upset, and people can talk freely. I felt able to contribute or not contribute. The dog coming in has really helped also. The individual coaching reinforced the CBT teaching, summing up how that session has gone and how things are overall. I feel more optimistic now that I can get to places that I can mix with people and I can continue to go forward. There is more follow up now also which is good. I can call on Michelle for help with IT, getting my CV together and talk to the job coach at the job centre. I have had anxiety, depression and agoraphobia probably from childhood. I had five months of CBT which helped me but for some people in the group it hasn’t worked for them until now.

This is a really good forum for people to talk and group CBT has been helpful for them and having a place where they can speak and not feel alone. The Choices course was the first thing and now the next step is volunteering. I have been accepted for volunteering at Winchester Library. That should start in October. I have done care work for the elderly, in a unit for people with dementia. Mum has had MS since I was born and diagnosed when I was 21 which is when I started looking after her. Now I have been thinking about what is my ideal job? Then I thought that the local library has been large in
my life and provides a brilliant service. I realised it was staffed by volunteers and I offered to help. Southampton Library had enough volunteers, so I applied to Winchester and have been accepted. That will help me come off my fit note and start going for paid jobs.
I will be really nervous but the difference now, is that I know I will get there and do it. Finishing this Choices course has been an achievement for me and I would score it 10 out of 10 for how helpful it has been.

2018 Testimonials

Kathryn Spencer (Dec 2018)

Kathryn's goals "to complete the SAFE course and remember who I am and what I'm capable of" Kathryn achieved her goals!

Kathryn receiving her SAFE certificate presented by Nina Kelly SAFE CEO

Michelle Hammerton, SAFE Training Manager says. “Connecting with candidates at the deepest level to raise self-awareness that enables discovery to new pathways and solutions to barriers, is very motivating, “so powerful !” (Dec 2018)

“I was lost before I came on this course and it has given me a lot of direction. It has made me look at everything I’ve been doing over the past year independently and package it up and see that I could get a really good job. I was at university 8 years ago studying criminology, but I had a breakdown at university – due to bi-polar disorder.  Now, I won’t let my mental Illness get in the way. I have started applying for jobs and am also looking at apprenticeships.” Karen (Sept 2018)

“I’ve got a job as a driver for a local plumbing company! I’m more confident socialising now. Hearing other people’s stories helped me realise that I’m not on my own. My life is not that bad in comparison. The course has really helped. My parents have noticed a change. I’m more talkative with others. I’m not using the X-box so much and am socialising more.” Elliott (Sep 2018)

2017 Testimonials 

 I was very low depressed and down before I came on the Choices course. I had been abused as a child and ended up in a very abusive relationship. After I was sectioned, the Job centre said that I wasn’t ready for work and that I should try the Choices course. It has changed my life.  It showed me that I wasn’t alone, that I was worth something and helped me talk to people again. Since then, I have done three weeks voluntary work for cancer research in Shirley high street, have got my CV up to date, started applying for jobs and have an interview. (Rita) 


The course gave me confidence and helped me work out my strengths and skills, identified what I’m good at and helped me to get on with people.  Since then, I have applied for 10 jobs, had a few phone interviews and started teaching myself programming again because I felt so much more motivated. (Will) 


I applied for my first job a fortnight ago.  I have also started volunteering at Fareshare, thanks to Norman (Facilitator) who drove me there and organised it. I didn’t think I could with my reading and writing problems.  The Choices facilitators on the course helped me a lot with writing, reading and trying to explain things to me. I want to try to keep on going to Fareshare now as often as I can. (Philip)

Outcomes of SJP courses

Between June 2017 and March 2018, a total of 68 Solent Jobs Programme (SJP) participants attended a SAFE course. 35 went into education, employment or volunteering and 19 into active job searching.


“I wanted to improve my self-confidence and my SJP advisor said this would be a good course to do. When I first came, I thought it might be a repeat of courses I had already done but it was all different.  I came to the course thinking I didn’t have my strengths or good points and the course has helped me identify the strengths and skills and has left me feeling a lot more positive.

I hope that I can carry theses good feeling forwards. I think it is going to help me take a positive attitude to my future training and do a CSCS course and forklift training in order to pursue a new career.” Richard Hickman


“I have enjoyed the Choices course run by SAFE for a number of reasons.  The constant reminder to look at things differently runs strongly throughout building on the idea to ultimately challenge your thoughts in a more positive helpful way.  This was achieved through a number of mediums visual, vocal and written which really helped bed in the ideas put across.  A well-run course with knowledgeable facilitators who were empathetic and compassionate in their approach.

A thoroughly enjoyable and ultimately thought-provoking course.  Thank you!!” Jude


“I came to the course to help with self-confidence and motivation. The course was quite short (3-days) but I learned a lot over those three days and I do feel more confident and motivated now. It was definitely worth doing. It was also helpful meeting other people who experience the same sort of issues as I do, and that helped make the course more relatable.” Celine

The needs we are addressing and why it is important

Southampton is ranked 67th on the overall Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) 2015 out of the 326 Local Authorities in England (1 equals the most deprived). Previously for IMD (2010) Southampton ranked 81st and has the 7th largest increase in deprivation of neighbourhoods in England in the most deprived decile between IMD(2010) and IMD(2015).

The Health Deprivation and Disability domain has seen the largest deterioration with 64.7% of LSOAs moving into a more deprived decile and only 2.9% improving.

The Employment domain has also seen some deterioration with 33.1% of LSOAs moving into a more deprived decile and only 11.5% improving.

SAFE addresses both these issues in that we tackle the underlying causes of unemployment, often linked to depression and anxiety, enabling people to believe in themselves and develop self-worth to enabling them to take the step towards employment or even employment itself.

Positive life choices

Through People’s Postcode funding, we targeted young NEET people such as Nikita.

At the time of attending the course Nikita was 22 years old. He joined for the sole purpose to restore what has been lost and broken - confidence, passion and the reason to move forward.
Before joining the course, Nikita has been dismissed from work for something he has never done. This unjust decision has left him hopeless. His negative cycle has been returned and he couldn't gain enough power to make things positive again. He's suffered a severe case of depression, he's been anxious in doing things and he constantly thought about ending his life. Nikita didn't know what to do. The CBT didn't give him much help.
Nikita has heard about SAFE course from his support worker at the YMCA. Since he was unemployed, Nikita decided to give it a try. He attended his first day and he realised... that he felt welcomed.
He's met people of a vast diversity, seeking similar purposes. All of the attendees wanted to make their lives better. They wanted to be more confident, more organised, they wanted to find their goals and skills that can be useful somewhere. Nikita felt welcomed... and after a long time, happy.
Thanks to the course, Nikita was able to find what he wants to achieve and how to reach these goals. He managed to collect the skills he was good at and use it for self-promotion in order to get a job. He also found new acquaintances to spend time with and new hobbies as well. But most importantly, he found his primary fear - rejection - and the strategies to fight him.
Nikita had to finish the course earlier as thanks to the course he has started training for something he has never done - construction. Whether he is successful with that or not, time will tell. But in any case, Nikita is ready to move forward, and he is willing to help others with getting things sorted.

This course was incredible. I'm extremely happy that I have attended it. Right now I feel like a completely different man. I'm motivated, confident and sincerely passionate about what's coming up in the future.

I believe that this course must be attended if you have hit the wall which you cannot pass. One of my major, let's say, bricks in the wall, were bricks of rejection. I've feared it for so long that it has caused a huge negative impact in my life. I felt worthless, hopeless and lifeless. Thanks to this course, I've found an appropriate strategy to overcome my fears. That worked like a sledgehammer. I didn't decide to find a way over, I've decided to go straight through it by smashing the wall so much that it is impossible to repair it.

Overall, I just have two words for the newcomers: do it. This is the best opportunity you can get. Good luck"

Choices future 2018/19
We plan to launch eight new Positive Choices Programmes during 2018/19 with an emphasis on young people aged 16-30. Each programme will have a group of approximately 10 participants struggling with depression, anxiety or other or forms of mental health problems such as eating disorders or self-harming. Some will face added barriers around physical health, addiction and offending.

The programme will help young people overcome their negative core beliefs, changing thinking and improving their self- confidence and motivation, allowing them to take control of their lives and set healthy goals to re-enter education, employment or training. We will provide pre and post-course coaching to help beneficiaries move towards their goals.
The Positive Choices courses will be community based in local venues. On each course two beneficiaries will be trained to deliver Positive Choices to further cohorts.
Choices will target people who are disengaged and living chaotic lifestyles. They are likely to have come from a deprived family background or local authority care and/ or face multiple barriers around substance misuse, crime and antisocial behaviour. They are typically unlikely to engage with the labour market

Summary of planned outcomes
Our expectation is that final outcomes from the proposed Choices programmes will replicate previous outcomes achieved in previous youth programmes:
• 50% at risk of becoming NEET will find employment, further education or training
• 83% less depressed
• 67% less anxious
• 96% increased confidence
• 100% increased self-esteem
• 100% goal achievement
• 92% more self-aware

We will measure and report on the positive changes made as follows:
• Decreased depression/anxiety. Increased confidence, self-esteem, resilience and goal-setting. Ten psychological measures using the DASS (Depression, Anxiety & Stress Scale) conducted on First and Last day of the course, showing percentage gains pre and post course in each of the five areas.
• Outcomes in attendance or entry into education, employment or learning. Weekly drop-ins for three months post-course and ongoing close relationships with referrers to capture concrete educational and employment improvements.
• Changed family and personal lives: Individual case studies and one-to-one interviews capturing personal stories of changed lives and mental health transformations.
• Achievement of goals: Individual action plans monitored weekly during the course and post-course reunions.

With EUESF funding that we received through HIWCF, we targeted ‘inactive’ candidates, who for health and disability reasons were unable to seek employment - such as Rita.
Rita (44) was unable to get a job due to significant mental health issues and trauma brought on by serious domestic abuse situations. She said “One of the best things about the course was knowing what we are actually worth. I didn’t think I was worth much. The course said you are worth a lot. Since then, I have done three weeks voluntary work for cancer research in Shirley high street for a couple of days a week.

I have got my CV up to date and even started applying for jobs and I have an interview next week.” March 2018

Through Henry Smith Funding, we received referrals from Southampton City Council employment support team such as Sam who is now applying for jobs as a cleaner or shop work.
Sam (29) had never had a paid job and spent her whole life thinking she had a ‘child’s brain’. She got extremely depressed following the death of her mother who was also her full-time carer. She said,

One thing I want to do is go off my benefits. I want a proper job, so I know I can do it. I want to work for my money and be proud of it and be independent. This course helped me to talk a bit more in a group, make new friends, meet new people, come to a different place. I never missed a session. Now, I have good thoughts in my head about understand what I want to do. This course really helped because now I can understand who I am.” May 2018