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A number of GEM individuals have come together to create a GEM Participants' Council; with the aim to ensure that those signed up to the project have their voices heard. 

After several cluster group meetings across the county, the GEM individuals have now formed a county wide Participants' Council and have already held two meetings. 

They will be discussing issues that are important to the Council, including any gaps in the provision for GEM and suggestions for improvements. They will then put forward recommendations to the GEM Executive Team. To date the Council members have already suggested several changes and these ideas have been put in motion. 

Who better to help shape the GEM Project than those people who are signed up to the programme. 


GEM individuals join together to create a GEM Participants' Council

by Nikki Davies

With the help of two GEM partners, Artshape and The Churn Project, an art exhibition was organised at the New Brewery Arts Centre in Cirencester to provide the opportunity for local GEM artists to showcase their work to the general public. 

by Nikki Davies

A number of GEM’s recently took part in a Kitchen Challenge project, alongside one of our partners The Wiggly Worm. Over an 8-week period, these individuals went on an exciting food journey, learning about healthy eating, food safety and most importantly, developing their practical skills and confidence to pursue their employment ambitions within the catering industry.

To celebrate their progress and showcase their skills learnt over the course of the 8 weeks, the project finished with the budding chefs running their own restaurant service to specially invited guests, where they created their own menu and prepared, cooked and served all the food as a team.

Guests from a number of food related organisations including Gloucester Services, Bowden Hall, Kitchen Garden Foods and Brickhampton Golf Club, as well as Two Rivers Housing and Swindon Borough Council were invited to the celebration meal.

The menu consisted of crushed pea and pecorino toasts firework soup, a choice of either coq au vin or stuffed peppers and toffee apples for dessert. The meal finished with coffee or tea served with homemade orange and almond shortbread and chocolate truffles.

The event was thoroughly enjoyed by all and opportunities for the GEMs have already started to progress. A massive well done to all the GEM participants involved.

Budding GEM chefs get a taste in the kitchen

by Nikki Davies

Samantha Mullaney, Navigator Developer for the Brandon Trust, shares her story of how she helped one of her individuals on the GEM Project.

“After my initial meeting with J it was apparent that there were lots of complex emotional needs as well as a learning disability.

J was capable of many things in the past but slowly had lost a lot of those skills due to losing confidence in herself and by socially excluding herself from the community. This put increasing pressure on the family as J would seek constant reassurance and the adult attention she was lacking.

Between myself and her social worker we devised a plan and distributed what J needed support with between us. J also had expressed her wishes of moving out of the family home into supported living.

J started working with the enablement team and I started to support J in the community, re introducing her to the drop in service that she used to access independently and supporting her going to bowling and community social clubs.

I had to give her full support with this, as it soon became apparent how little J understood due to her being on the autistic spectrum and how disruptive she became when she didn’t understand; this was probably a coping mechanism that she uses to cover up her lack of understanding.

As I worked closely with J, I became aware of her attention seeking behaviour and her constant need for reassurance due to her lack of confidence.

Slowly we started to make progress, I was spending a lot of time with J, working on her skills and developing them further.

J loved to be helpful, so I got her making the refreshments for a local community group and joining in the activities. After a while, we applied to a local charity shop to offer her time to some volunteering. They were keen to offer J some hours and I offered to support J in the first instance. As soon as J was feeling confident and worked under her own initiative I would slowly withdraw my input. J very quickly settled in and didn’t need much of my support, as long as she knew I was nearby, this gave her the confidence to work independently.

During this time, her social worker had also found some potential supported living placements. I supported J in her assessment interviews with her social worker and in her mental capacity meeting.

Over time, as her confidence grew in her staff team and her new life she became a lot more involved with the community, spending times with friends and her volunteer roles. She finally felt confident and had the reassurance she needed from all involved that she was doing just fine.

This led to her biggest achievement to date. She finally felt confident enough to retake her driving test and she passed!!

J really has now found her place in her community and life and I couldn’t be prouder of J and how far J has come since our first meeting. What is also heart warming about this journey is J’s parents are now Mum and Dad and not J’s ‘carers’.

I would like to thank J for being my first participant on the GEM project and allowing me to be part of her amazing journey.”

Our Navigator Developer shares their experience of the GEM Journey

by Nikki Davies

Last week the GEM Project celebrated it’s one year anniversary celebration. Gloucestershire Gateway Trust are delighted to be managing this project, so took this opportunity to reflect and celebrate the success of this programme to date.

Since the launch of this project, GEM has engaged with over 500 individuals, supporting these people to help them move closer towards or into employment opportunities.

The event to mark this special occasion, was held at the Pittville Pump Rooms in Cheltenham, filled with dignitaries, partners, businesses and individuals enrolled on the project.

It was designed to showcase the project’s achievements to date, as well as the results of the Monitoring and Evaluation team from the first year, outcomes of the project and an insight to the Participants Council, which has formed as part of this project.

The programme has helped move 108 people into job searching, 173 into further education or training, 58 individuals to gain a qualification and 81 people into employment or self-employment.

High Sheriff Andrew Tabor also took to the stage to present several awards to some of GEM’s Exemplar Employers; organisations who have gone the extra mile to support our GEM’s and provided an opportunity to help them move closer towards employment. These included Glevum Security, Waitrose, Specsavers and Stroud District Furniture Bank.

The event really showed that Gloucestershire has so much to be proud of and the dedication that all the partners, Navigator Developers and GEM team have shown to make the first year of the project such a success. A massive thank you to everyone who has supported this unique project and the GEM team look forward to seeing what the next year will bring.

The GEM Project is jointly funded by the Big Lottery Fund and European Social Fund.

GEM celebrates it’s one-year anniversary

by Nikki Davies

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