'Solent Supporting Employment' programme delivers extraordinary impact

A report on HIWCF’s management of the £1.76 million European Social Fund project, ‘Solent Supporting Employment’, describes the extraordinary impact the programme has had on 1,200 people throughout Hampshire, Southampton and Portsmouth.


This community based skills and employability programme, delivered between 2020 and 2023, aimed to reach highly disadvantaged communities across Hampshire, including Portsmouth, Southampton, and the Isle of Wight.


The programme awarded total grants of £1,473,198 over the three-year period: 50% of funding came from the European Social Fund (ESF) and 50% was matched by Hampshire County Council, Portsmouth City Council, Southampton City Council, Sovereign Network Group, Abri and HIWCF. 


Eligible grantees included 19 local charities, social enterprises, education centres and other community organisations, delivering a total of 28 employability projects. Delivery partners ranged from larger, well-established groups, like Saints Foundation and housing associations to smaller, niche community groups working with one specific demographic, for example adults with learning disabilities.


While Hampshire is often perceived as a leafy, wealthy area, it is important to recognise that 40% of the population in Hampshire, Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight live within a local authority area ranked amongst the 30% most deprived in the country.


This successful programme contributed to HIWCF’s vision of helping ease the burden of poverty for the most deprived communities in the region. 


'Saints Works' - a youth engagement project supporting meaningful employment opportunities

In response to 10% of 16 to 17 year olds not in employment, education or training, the 'SSE' funded Saints Works project supported 72 young people from the most deprived parts of Southampton to take their first steps into employment through work readiness training and development of essential life skills.

Delivered through Southampton Football Club's home stadium, St Mary's, this 12 week project equipped young people aged 16 - 25 years with a range of skills to increase their opportunity, confidence and motivation towards employment, while also improving their mental and physical wellbeing.

Following the 12 programme, participants could also access an ongoing support programme to help them achieve their goals. This was particularly key for the young people who were furthest from the job market when they entered the programme.

Fundamental to the overall success of not only this project, but also the myriad others funded by SSE, was the delivery within highly defined communities, by community organisations operating at a grassroots level.