JOSEPH had lost track of how many jobs he’d applied for.

He had studied building maintenance at college, but without experience, no one was interested in employing him.

He wasn’t even getting invited to interviews and after claiming job seekers’ allowance for a year, was becoming down-heartened.

He was referred to the Wheatsheaf Trust for help looking for a job and they put him in touch with the Rainbow Project.

Now his life has turned around, after he secured a work placement through the charity’s Life Chances scheme.

The Daily Echo-backed scheme helps disadvantaged young people in Southampton who are struggling to find work.

It puts them in one-year work placements where they are mentored and supported as well as given work-related training.

Joseph was selected for a placement with Balfour Beatty and is part of their highways team, looking after reactive work such as repairing broken kerbs and filling in potholes.

He began working with them in January and says he is really enjoying it.

“I am much happier now,” says the 21-year-old.

“It’s really good to have a regular wage – I’m saving up to go on holiday to Ibiza in the summer!”

Joseph has to get up at 5am three days a week to arrive at work for 7am, but says that it didn’t take very long for him to adjust to working regular hours and has 100 per cent attendance.

“I enjoy all of it, it’s good to be working in a team,”he says.

“It’s really helped my confidence and I just have a smile on my face now.”

He hopes that the work placement will lead to an apprenticeship and his manager, highways supervisor, Tony Watson, says his chances look good.

“He’s doing very well,”he says. “He has a very good attitude, is enthusiastic and learns very quickly. He’s the ideal person to do this job and I think he could go further with it. He’s been encouraged to apply for an apprenticeship.”

Tony has regular meetings with Laura Coleman, who runs the Rainbow Project, to address any issues that come up with Joseph’s employment and Joseph also has fortnightly sessions with a mentor from the project, who is helping him with housing issues as well as supporting him in practising from his driving theory test, which will help him to secure an apprenticeship. The Rainbow Project is also supporting him in studying literacy and numeracy at college.

Joseph is currently working in a team with another Life Chances young person, Jason, who is also excelling.

Daily Echo:

Joseph, right, and Jason

Tony says he is delighted that Balfour Beatty is involved in the scheme.

“As long as these guys are willing and show initiative, we will endeavour to take them on,”he says.

“It’s a good way to recruit young people and give them a chance when otherwise they wouldn’t have one. These guys didn’t have a chance applying for jobs before because they didn’t have the CVs to back them up, but they have been ideal candidates for these roles.”

Jane Richards, business manager at Southampton Highways Partnership Service, adds: “‘Balfour Beatty are delighted to support Rainbow’s Life Chances campaign and very pleased with the success so far.

Through our commitment to sustainability, the environment and improving the quality of life of communities we welcome the opportunity to support and give time to community projects such as this.”

A young man has also secured a placement funded by the Radian Group through the scheme and is employed as a laborer at building firm, RH Hammond Ltd Southampton, where he has been working since January.

  • The Rainbow Project is always looking for employers to sponsor work placements. For more information about the Life Chances scheme, visit or call 023 8022 3525.