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Now, more than ever our core focus is providing the best support we can to our GEM participants. 

Samantha Mullaney, Navigator Developer at the Brandon Trust shares some of the activities she has been doing to ensure her participants feel supported during this uncertain time and even keep on track with their GEM goals. 

"As a Navigator Developer on the GEM Project, this was always going to be a testing and difficult time to carry on working with our participants.

Not being able to support my participants with face to face meetings has caused me to think outside of the box!

To begin, I made sure that most, if not all of my GEM’s had access to some form of video calling to help keep in touch.  

 I then made a list of which of my participants were particularly vulnerable with their mental health, living alone or had other complex needs. These participants were my main priority to keep the channels of communication well and truly open. I also created daily routines for those that need structure around their spectrum barriers.

I’ve enrolled most of my participants onto some online learning, keeping this relevant to their GEM education or employment goal.  I’ve been helping a young adult who is doing his functional skills, so we video call twice a day so I can support him with the terminology as he is from another country, an hour for maths and an hour for English.

Some of my participants may struggle with some of the course contents and terminology, so we book video calls daily and I go through the course with them explaining anything they are struggling with. On occasions, my participants can lack focus and motivation so I also book video calling slots to support them whilst they are learning, being on hand to encourage them when needed.

A handful of my participants struggle with social anxiety; since supporting them on the GEM Project, we had worked really hard on being out in the community to help build confidence, but with the latest government restrictions this is led to them not going out at all even for their one daily exercise.  Therefore, with the use of video calling I am joining a young lady on a short walk, keeping close to our own houses chatting to each other about our different surroundings. This is proving a huge success, it’s giving her fresh air and a sense of reassurance knowing she still has company albeit in a slightly different format.

I also feel this whole experience is improving their communication skills and keeping a sense of time.

These calls are a time to provide them with some social interaction, just chatting about day to day things and providing them with some much-needed reassurance that we can still progress on their GEM journey. We can still hit our goals but just in a different way and in a slightly different time frame and that we need to continue to be positive and just adapt our plans when needed."



Our Navigator Developer's are Going the Extra Mile for our GEM's to ensure they stay safe and are supported during this time

by Nikki Davies

Over the course of the last three years, the GEM Project has been working with employers across Gloucestershire to provide work-based opportunities to participants.

During this time, it has been made clear that businesses have been able to reap a huge range of tangible business benefits from employing or providing an opportunity to participants who may have not been considered previously.

There have already been various employers across the county who have benefitted from embedding an inclusive workforce including Specsavers, Gloucester Services, Emma Willis, Coventry Building Society and Hubble Bubble Coffee House, which has positively impacted on each business; from tapping into a new pool of talent to reducing staff turnover and recruitment costs, increasing staff morale and better understanding their own customer base.

As a result, a new initiative has been developed, Inclusivity Works, with the ambition to support employers in recognising the real business benefits of being more inclusive in their workplace.

This campaign will provide a useful resource hub and support network for employers which contains relevant and engaging information to help and assist organisations in becoming more inclusive and how to tap into these business benefits.

Inclusivity Works will be officially launched at a special event on Tuesday 21st April at the Business School, University of Gloucestershire in which employers will be able to hear first-hand from Gloucestershire businesses as they share how becoming more inclusive has benefited their own business.

Lord Mark Price, former Managing Director of Waitrose and Deputy Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership will also be attending the event as keynote speaker to share his thoughts on leadership and inclusivity.

By sharing business experiences, Inclusivity Works aims to inspire more employers to work with us and with our support, take advantage of some fantastic, talented and motivated potential employees.

Join us as we work together to make Gloucestershire a beacon for inclusivity in the UK.

For more information about the campaign and to register your interest for the event, please email

The GEM Project is a partnership involving more than 40 organisations across the county managed by Gloucestershire Gateway Trust on behalf of Gloucestershire County Council. It is jointly funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and European Social Fund. 

Inclusivity Works… the new campaign to showcase that being more inclusive works wonders for your organisation

by Nikki Davies

Our Navigator Developers truly are amazing people. Working with GEM participant's on a 1:1 basis, they offer personalised support to anyone signed up to the GEM Project to help them uncover their true career aspirations and move closer towards or into work. From self employment opportunities to simply building confidence to start a course, our Navigator Developers will work with our GEM's step by step to achieve their goals. 

Meet our Navigator Developer Daniel Gale who is based at our partner organisation GRCC. He recently supported a GEM participant and this is what he had to say about the support he received from Daniel. 

"I have been working with Daniel Gale through the GEM Project. He has given me the time, support and approach to help me progress my confidence and independence. 

I am hoping it will help build on the confidence he has given me to engage with the organisation, his approach made me feel like he was dealing with me and not my barriers in life. 

Daniel has supported a Blue badge application, a PIP re-assessment and home seekers in our time together. This is on top of building a business plan together, to help me take on my passion/training that I've always wanted to do, but never thought possible. 

I wanted to pass on my gratitude for all he has done." 

Sam - GEM Participant 

If you're struggling to find work and feel like you may need a bit of extra support to take your next steps, get in touch with the GEM team today on 01452 699741 or email 

Our Navigator Developers may support our GEM's, but they should also be treasured for the work that they do

by Nikki Davies

Tim was referred to GEM as he was keen to get back into work but was struggling to do this by himself. He continually felt anxious and depressed, was socially isolated and felt a complete sense of worthlessness with his life, therefore knew he needed help to find employment.

After working with his Navigator Developer, it was suggested for him to get involved with the ‘Come Grow With Us’ allotment project in partnership with CCP to help improve his mental health and build his confidence again before entering the world of work.

“It’s great doing something that feels worthwhile, I didn’t realise how powerful it is getting back to earth. There are so many benefits to the allotment project; it helps me socially, meeting and interacting with people. We are all here for similar reasons, needing a little extra help and we all share a common understanding.

Before, I had an issue of having nothing to do, nothing worthwhile which doesn’t help when you feel really depressed, so by working together and sharing knowledge has really helped the “real root” of combating my social isolation. There is a real communal feeling at the allotment.”

Organised by CCP, the Come Grow With Us project is funded by the Postcode Lottery and is designed to help clients meet new people, reduce mental health issues and learn new skills under the supervision of an expert gardener through various volunteering opportunities on their allotments.

For more information about the project or to start volunteering at the allotment, get in touch with Sam Henson on

Tim's 'Green Fingers' helps lead to a clearer mind

by Nikki Davies

Sue Cunningham, Manager of GL Communities recently shared with the GEM team how the GEM Project has helped compliment the services GL Communities offers to their local residents.

“Everything we do is person centred; an individual comes to GL Communities and they are our core focus, placed in the middle of our organisation. We have four themed areas; wellbeing and social inclusion, advice and advocacy, community economic development and education and employability. GEM leads our employability thread and helps us to focus on how to really support GEM participants within our organisation.

GEM has had an amazing effect on us, it’s helped us to change our thinking as an organisation. It has been the seed which has grown everything else, providing a knock-on effect into lots of areas in GL Communities.

Working with GEM has enabled us to work with organisations with different specialisms, we may not be able to help someone who comes to us with a specific need but can tap into other GEM partners and their expertise to ensure the best experience for the individual.
GL Communities focuses on wellbeing and helping to grow our local people, providing opportunities for people whilst also offering different services and resources.

A recent GEM has just started her own yoga business and we are now working with her to provide “armchair” yoga to an over 65 group and a community yoga session for local residents. We have also supported her with links to other organisations in the area which we currently have to see if there are other opportunities for yoga to be taught. It’s all about working together! We have helped support her business, but she has also helped us to increase and develop our service offering, adding value to our organisation.  

GEM is definitely a tool – it provides resources that you can use. It’s about embracing what GEM is achieving and seeing the bigger picture; not only supporting GEM’s through 1:1 support during their time on the project, but after their journey to develop them further, which in turn can benefit your own organisation.”

The GEM Project not only helps participant's but partner organisations too

by Nikki Davies

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