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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.


Gloucester | GRCC

"I have a gift, it is a gift which many of us have, but it is how we decide to use it that really counts. My gift is Dyslexia!  Yes, Dyslexia to me is a gift...  However, it does come with it’s down-sides. I can’t spell to save my life, I can’t remember people’s names from one day to the next, the last book I read was ‘Paddington goes to London’ when I was 19 years of age.  Dyslexia does have its problems but the key is to learn how to cope. Then once you have mastered the art of coping you can begin to blossom the talents dyslexia might bring to you and use them to your advantage.

Dyslexia gives me creativity and I have used it to write a book – a children’s illustrated novel.  The idea began a decade before a novel had even been thought about. A bedtime story was needed one night, in a holiday cottage in Port Isaac, Cornwall – and with no books around there was only one thing to do: make one up.  The Knick-Knack Tree Adventures’ were born, and there was no turning back. The task seemed endless; in fact, it took almost 2 years to write and then I decided to illustrate it. Eventually the story was complete. The first Knick-Knack Tree Adventure had arrived: Trouble in Trickletown.

Now all I needed to do was to sell. This was were all my problems began!  The hard drive failed on my computer, I had an accident at work which took away all my confidence, I became house bound with depression. I never went out I kept the curtains drawn in my house and I never answered my phone. What made matters worse was the fact that I had no job and I just could not find any way forward with Universal Credits.

"Then I found the GEM Project and Julie, my Navigator Developer – she stuck by me and what a journey we had! Julie guided me through a minefield of problems and I cannot thank her and the GEM project enough. It took almost 3 months to sort out and several visits to the food bank (yes things were that bad) but now my life is back on track, I still have a long way to go but my story-book project – ‘Knick-Knack Tree Adventures’ is beginning to get recognised… so watch this space!"

The Kindle edition of Trouble is Trickletown is now available from Amazon.


Young Gloucestershire

Phoebe joined the GEM project with a catering qualification and plenty of volunteering experience, but was really struggling to find a job due to having High-Functioning Autism.

“I was really keen to find a job, but with needing some extra support in a role I found it hard to find an employer who was willing to give me a chance. I was getting lots of interviews but not being offered the job.”

Ione, her Navigator Developer supported Phoebe through interview practice and completing an employability qualification, and now Phoebe is working at Hubble Bubble in Gloucester as a waitress.

Manager of Hubble Bubble, Rae Hunt said: “By making a simple adjustment to our training process – including using clear checklists and straightforward wording with Phoebe – we have gained a very valuable member of the team. Phoebe is never late, she works consistently hard with exacting standards and is meticulous in her presentation.”

“We also gave Phoebe a work trial at the start and could instantly see she would be great for the job.  She performed really well in the interview but the work trial really showed us what she was capable of.”

Phoebe commented: “I’ve really enjoyed my whole experience on the GEM Project, the 1:1 support has been great and has helped to find me a job that I enjoy. I even get to prepare some of the food such as their Freak Shakes!”


Cheltenham | Specsavers

James has a learning disability, and six months ago he couldn’t read or write. Keen to work, he had delivered telephone directories in the past and volunteered for many organisations, but his dream was to find a paid job and to be part of a team.  “I handed out lots of CVs, and went for loads of interviews, but nobody wanted me” said James.

In October 2017 James met GEM Navigator Developer Joe through National Star College. “Joe was really helpful. He said I can always talk to him about any concerns, and call him if I want on other jobs in the future. He took me to interview practice, which really helped when I came into Specsavers.” James added.

Specsavers were delighted to create a role for James, who now works in the lab cleaning glasses, putting them in the right cases and getting them ready for collection. “James is such a valued member of the team” said Emily from Specsavers. “He’s reliable, thoughtful and puts a smile on everyone’s face. In the last few months he’s also started recognising letters and numbers more and has been learning to read though Read Easy.  We’re very proud of him.”

“The GEM project has really helped me" James commented. "I’m so happy to finally get a chance. It’s nice that someone can see beyond the disability, and that’s all people like us need”.


Gloucester | Artshape

Max has long had problems with social anxiety, depression and suffered poor mental health, and was more recently diagnosed with Asperger’s.  Because of this, Max had never been able to hold down a “proper job”.

Max was unable to leave the house for a several years due to mental health, but then began spending time at Artshape, and found out about the GEM Project.  “Max is a true artist” commented Donna, GEM Navigator Developer for Artshape.  “My goal was to help Max realise that”.  Around the same time, Max developed a real connection and love for Vultures, and quickly started to combine the two – painting, sketching, drawing.  It had long been Max’s dream to exhibit a collection, but in Max’s own words, Donna “made it seem possible”.

With the help of Donna, Max had the courage to approach the International Centre for Birds of Prey (ICBP) – where many hours had been spent creating works of art – and asked about exhibiting.  A short while later, Max’s dream of a solo exhibition was realised, with the Vulture collection filling a wall in the ICBP café.  Max is “chuffed” to have already sold two pieces – with the money raised from the sales contributing to conservation efforts to save endangered Vultures from disappearing (

Max said “I am now capable of making a contribution to society.  I’ve had to work to deadlines, organise my collection and I’ve also helped to run art workshops.  People now sit and have their coffee being watched by my Vultures.”

You find out more about Max’s work by visiting or @VultureArts on Facebook.


Gloucester | GARAS

Roselyn moved to the UK 15 years ago to seek asylum and was keen to find work, but had to wait for her work permit and didn’t know where to start.  After starting a sewing class at GARAS, Roselyn was introduced to GEM Navigator Developer Sarah.

“I thought the only job I could do would be cleaning, but Sarah talked to me about what else I was interested in and made me realise I could do more.”

Roselyn joined the GEM project in early 2018, and though it took 15 years to get her work permit, she had already started volunteering. She then became interested in the security field and was determined to get her SIA Security Licence. She has completed the Level 2 certificate for working as a Door Supervisor in private security, funded by the GEM project, and is now in the process of getting her licence. 

Roselyn’s final comments: “The GEM Project has been so inspiring, it has given me advice and supported me step by step. I started with no hope but when I got work I knew I could be somebody. I would recommend the GEM project to everyone.”




Beth Weeks

Dursley | GL11

Beth had a background in retail management, but due to her personal circumstances changing, she was unable to continue with employment in this sector. Therefore she needed some help getting back into work. 

Beth shares her story about how the GEM Project helped her gain employment in a new industry. 


Gloucester | Gloucestershire Deaf Association

Sallie-Anne is profoundly deaf and grew up with her hearing family. She used to work for a care home but was unhappy in her work and suffered from severe depression. 

After meeting with her Navigator Developer Reg, and starting to gain some confidence from these meetings, Sallie-Anne visited Gloucestershire College and enrolled on a painting and decorating course. 

After completing her course, she was keen to set up her own business and gain some work experience. Reg approached B G Brain, a local decorator business who agreed for Sallie-Anne to complete some work experience with them. She also took part in several sessions with Gloucestershire Enterprise Ltd to understand how to set up a new business, as well as complete any relevant training to support her with her goal. 

Sallie-Anne finished her GEM journey obtaining business status with HMRC and is now happy starting a new life and business. 

Stuart Tidmarsh

Gloucester | National Star College

Stuart was in a difficult place before joining the GEM Project. He is now completing a work placement at Glevum Security and feels that his life is getting back on track. 

He shares his story of how the GEM Project has helped turn his life around. 

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.

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.