The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Foundation (HIWCF) is delighted to announce that grants totalling £153,358 have been awarded through the Solent Supporting Employment (SSE) Programme, supporting five vital employment projects in Eastleigh, Havant, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.   

These grant awards represent the third and final round of funding from the SSE Programme, set up to enable charities, community groups and not-for-profit organisations within the Solent LEP area to help vulnerable people to move closer towards work or into employment. In total, £1.3 million has been allocated to support local employment projects since November 2020.

The Solent Supporting Employment Programme, managed by HIWCF, is targeting those that have been unemployed for a long period of time, in particular aiming to support the most vulnerable people who otherwise may struggle to find pathways to employment. There is a particular emphasis on supporting people with disabilities, single parents and parents who have never worked, together with families and people in black and minority ethnic communities, particularly in areas where deprivation is high.

The SSE Programme was created by the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership and is part-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF), with generous match funding provided by HIWCF donors, including Sovereign Housing Association, Hampshire County Council, Portsmouth City Council and Southampton City Council.

The organisations benefitting from funding are as follows:

Organisation Project Area
Enable Ability – InterActiv Programme Portsmouth
RCS Limited – Havant Employment Project Havant
Safe New Futures – Safe New Futures Resilience and Employment Project Havant
Sovereign Housing Association – Skills for Work Initiative Isle of Wight
Abri (Swaythling Housing Society Limited) – Unlimited Potential Project Eastleigh

Jacqui Scott, Chief Executive for HIWCF said: “We are delighted to be working with the European Social Fund and Local Authority partners across the region to provide this vital opportunity encouraging local people into work. Our communities have been massively challenged by the Covid-19 pandemic for almost two years now and this funding is increasing employment prospects and outlook for disadvantaged and vulnerable local people, giving them the life chances that they deserve and making a lasting difference to their lives. I would like to thank all of our funding partners, including our generous HIWCF donors, for their support in making these grants possible.”


Abri (Swaythling Housing Society Ltd) – Eastleigh (pictured above)

A grant to Abri of £38,705 is supporting people who are facing challenges when trying to access the labour market in the Eastleigh area. The ‘Unlimited Potential’ Project will help to tackle deprivation and wellbeing in local communities, by offering employment and wellbeing training, regular one-to-one bespoke support with an employment advisor, access to a career hub and a drop-in service at a local job club. Participants will be able to professionalise their CV, search and apply for jobs, take part in mock interviews, access anxiety and wellbeing sessions and learn how to use mindfulness techniques. Training and guidance is also provided for those that are planning to set up their own business, with support provided through access to highly skilled business mentors, regular business support clubs and marketplace events. Find out more on or sign up here.

Chris Adams, Employment Support and Training Manager at Abri, said: “This project has already provided life changing support in Gosport, Portsmouth and Southampton, helping the people most in need to overcome challenges and improve their long-term job prospects. As well as helping improve people’s immediate wellbeing, these projects will help participants address the root causes of long-term unemployment. We’re pleased to be able to extend this support to those living in Eastleigh. We’ve invested £15m over the next five years in our communities that need it the most, to improve their health and wellbeing, increase employment opportunities, and empower communities.”


Safe New Futures – Havant
A grant of £37,314 is enabling Safe New Futures to deliver the ‘Safe New Futures Resilience and Employment Project’ in Havant, supporting people living with mental illnesses and people with disabilities who have experienced long-term barriers in finding work.

The programme uses a cognitive behavioural therapy-based approach where necessary, to tackle negative thinking patterns related to depression, anxiety and other debilitating emotions and to build self-belief and confidence for participants. Specialised vocational learning helps participants to identify their own unique skills and strengths to decide where these can best be used within the labour market. Practical training is offered on the best ways to search for new jobs, write effective CVs, fill in application forms, and perform well in job interviews. Find out more:

Sally, a participant on the Safe New Futures Resilience and Employment course, was out of work for eight years, following a diagnosis of depression, which together with additional health problems led to heavy drinking. Thanks to the Safe New Futures Resilience and Employment Project, Sally has benefitted from one-to-one support and the cognitive behavioural workshop approach and she is delighted to have been offered a job with a local retailer.

Sally said “I feel the course opened my eyes to a way of thinking and my thoughts are becoming positive. Without the course I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do the interview. It has really changed my mind set for the better. I highly recommend it!”


RCS Ltd – Havant
RCS Ltd is a non-profit making organisation offering a variety of community activities for adults, children and families including community food pantries, educational skills and volunteering advice. The organisation has a long history of helping those who find it hard to gain work, supporting people who may be socially isolated, who have low aspirations or who find it difficult to engage fully with society in order to live full independent lives. Following a grant of £44,169 from the SSE Programme, RCS Ltd is working closely with Park Community School to deliver the Havant Employment Project (HEP).

The project offers participants in the Havant area a tailored Personal Intervention Plan, to chart their progression in skills and knowledge in areas such as financial skills, interview skills, work experience and volunteering. Experienced support workers work with individuals, providing advice, guidance and training, to help them to achieve their action plan and reach their personal goals. Find out more on:


Enable Ability – Portsmouth 

Enable Ability has received an extension grant of £7,941 for the ‘InterActiv’ Programme, an extremely successful employment project in Portsmouth that has previously received funding from the SSE Programme.

The main focus of the InterActiv Programme is the care, welfare and advancement of people with disabilities through work experience, training and personal employability skills. Participants work with Personal Skills Coaches on individually tailored work programmes, acquiring skills in team-work, communication, commercial awareness, numeracy, customer service, problem solving and computer use.

This is achieved through work experience in either a computer repair shop, a café, marketing, videography virtual tours or gardening, arts and crafts. The Programme is running until the end of November 2022 and will help to boost the confidence, self-esteem and employability skills of participants in their search for gainful and meaningful employment. Find out more about Enable Ability on

Richard Soutar, Manager at Enable Ability said, “Our mission is to help participants realise their goals through overcoming the barriers to progression and by developing skills and confidence in all aspects of life. This grant will extend the life of our project by three months and will mean we are able to support and have a meaningful, sustainable impact for more people with disabilities as they continue onwards with their employment journey.”


Since 2006, HIWCF has granted over £14 million to good causes, funded over 4,000 organisations and built endowment funds worth £15 million, to provide a lasting legacy for local communities.