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Success Stories

This section provides the chance to read about real individuals and their unique journey in how the GEM Project has helped them to move closer towards employment.


Ben Champness

Gloucester | Young Gloucestershire

Ben currently receives Personal Independence Payment (PIP), therefore he had no specific requirement to work but really wanted to find a job. He was volunteering at various places, including the library and charity shops, but was extremely keen to gain a paid employment position.

After completing a traineeship at the College in Customer Service, I was unsure what to do; although I was volunteering 3 days a week at a retail shop, I really wanted paid work. I had been applying for lots of general jobs but had no offers.

After interview practice with Ione, Ben had two interviews lined up and on his second interview was offered the job. He is now working as a cleaner at Harewood Junior School every day during term time.

My Navigator Developer Ione has really helped me in finding work. Rather than applying for general roles, we looked at jobs that I was interested in and would be able to travel to independently. I’m really grateful for the extra 1-1 support, help in finding roles and working with me to get interview ready.


Alex Carr

Gloucester | Gloucestershire Deaf Association

Alex had been unemployed for eight years before signing up to the GEM Project. With qualifications in photography, he previously tried to set up his own business, but due to being deaf, found that communication was a big barrier and unfortunately meant this wasn’t possible.

I was hoping that the GEM Project would help increase my confidence and job experience so that I would be able to work in the photography industry. I also have an interest in cars so Reg was determined to find me opportunities that focused in these areas.

Alex is now completing a placement at Stratstone Land Rover in Cheltenham, supporting the Sales Executives with the professional photography required for each vehicle for sale, and has been offered a full-time job.

By working closely with Reg, my Navigator Developer and receiving 1-1 support, I have been able to do something that I actually enjoy. It’s great that my skill set and interests have been taken into consideration and utilised, rather than just being offered a placement in a position that I have no real interest in.


Alan Rudge

Gloucester | GL Communities

Alan previously worked as a security guard, but unfortunately for around the last 11 years suffered with epilepsy. It was so severe, he was having up to eight seizures a day, meaning that he lost his job and was unable to work.

After a serious operation in January 2016 to help prevent my seizures, although I am still on medication, I am lucky to have not suffered with any seizures. My dream now is to set up my own handy man business, after volunteering at the Redwell Centre in Matson, helping with various maintenance jobs.

Through the GEM Project, Alan has been able to complete several business training courses with Gloucester Enterprise and will be looking to complete further courses to enhance his qualifications including Electrical, Plumbing and NEBOSH.

I am now in the process of setting up my own handyman services business; I have been able to make various business connections on the courses I have completed and have already finalised my business plan. I would definitely recommend the GEM Project to others, in fact I already have; the support from my Navigator Developer has been brilliant to help me get my life back on track!


Josh Wheelan

Stroud | The Grace Network

Before joining the GEM Project, Josh was heading down the wrong path. He had been in a bad crowd, with a negative background and after narrowly missing jail, realised it was time to get back on track.

I was really lost before I signed up to GEM, in a rough place, doing the wrong thing. I had my own place before and wanted to get back to where I was. I always tried to get work but had no support or communication previously and felt like I wasn’t wanted or needed.

After working with his Navigator Developer Tim at The Grace Network for a few months and completing a work placement from November 2016 until January 2017, Josh is now employed full time, funded by a private donor, as a Driving Assistant for the Stroud District Furniture Bank CIC.

My Navigator Developer really guided me in the right direction and supported me 1-1 whenever I needed help. It’s been such a great experience being part of the GEM Project and I really enjoy my new role, giving back to people who need help, hearing their stories and knowing that I’ve helped to change their life.


Jessica Owens

Cheltenham | CCP

Jess has dyspraxia and dyslexia but has also recently been diagnosed with autism. This has led to her struggling to find work and has severely knocked her confidence.

After completing a catering course at College, working in this industry is something that I’ve always wanted to do. My Navigator Developer used to be my housing support worker and suggested the GEM Project to help support me in finding work in an area I really enjoy.

Jess signed up to the Kitchen Challenge course, a project ran by one of our GEM Partners, The Wiggly Worm. This enabled her to equip herself with relevant knowledge and experience to support her with her goal in becoming a chef.

I’ve really enjoyed learning new skills on this course and gaining experience in an area that I’m really interested in. I’ve not had any real support previously so the help my Navigator Developer has given me has been amazing, even helping me apply for jobs. It’s great too, as even though the course is in Gloucester, the GEM Project funds my bus travel to get to the venue each week which really helps.


Samara Latit

Gloucester | Prospect Training

Samara came to the UK in 2014. She was previously a teacher in Pakistan but has now been unemployed since August 2015. With English not being her first language, she felt she needed more confidence and support to find employment in this country.

The GEM Project has given me lots of ideas on what to do. It has helped me to become more independent and stand on my own feet. I have completed a Direction to Success course which has really supported me and given me the energy and an aim to work towards.

She is now volunteering at the Haven Family Nursery to build her experience and improve her English further. With a background in teaching, this childcare route is ideal for her and she is extremely keen to gain a childcare qualification to develop her skills further.

I searched for my volunteering position with the help of my Navigator Developer; her methods are very interesting and I now feel mentally ready to get a job in the UK. I would recommend the GEM Project to anyone. My Navigator Developer has really helped me move forward and improve my life.


June Durham

Forest of Dean | Forest Upcycling Project

Being a full-time Mum, June had been unemployed for around 7 years, but has now secured a part-time position that fits around with her personal commitments.

I have wanted to get back into the world of work for a while and was working with the Job Centre, but was mainly going on different courses rather than getting any real work experience.

June began her GEM journey in November 2016 and after two months working with her Navigator Developer, building her confidence, she secured a work placement. She then applied for a paid position at the Forest Upcycling project and was offered the role.

I’ve really enjoyed being on the GEM Project. I’d much rather be working than only doing courses and it’s given me the chance to get some real hands-on experience which I can reference on my CV. The support from my Navigator Developer has really helped bring me along and build my confidence, and now from this project I’ve been able to get a job.