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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.


Cirencester | The Churn Project

Jamie had a long history of drugs and was also brought up around substance use.

In 2010, he was involved in a serious car accident which resulted in him breaking his neck, fracturing his spine and cracking his skull open which led to a bleed on the brain. This paralysed him on the right side of his body and also resulted in memory loss and brain damage. After being told he would never be able to walk again, he fought against the odds but is now forever disabled.  

A few years ago, he struggled with a really bad year, which brought back memories of his accident and he was struggling with PTSD. This led to him meeting Amanda at The Churn Project.

“I used to have lots of confidence, but lost this due to my accident, instead I felt like I was being judged with my tattoos and appearance, branded a bad boy.  

I was recommended the Churn Project and GEM to see what support was available to try and find some part time work. I wanted a proper career but realised that I needed an English qualification to make this happen.

I was originally going to look at a job in the IT sector as I felt like I would still be able to do this even with a disability. However, after meeting Amanda, she introduced me to acting lessons at a local theatre to help build my confidence back up and learn how to speak properly to people again. After a year of doing this and looking at my options, my dream now is to become a school support worker, visiting schools and sharing my life story about how I have turned my life around.

In September I am going to be starting a course to learn about challenging behaviour in children, as well as a class to complete a GCSE equivalent grade in English.

If it wasn’t for the Churn and GEM Project, I wouldn’t have the drive to start my life again. This experience has given me the confidence to talk again; I used to lock myself away but I have learnt to get that strength again and live my life with my son.

I don’t want my history to influence or set who I am now. My son is everything to me and I love being a parent. You can turn your life around if you’re given the right tools to do it and that’s what Amanda has helped me do. No one judged me about my past, just helped me to better my future."


Cheltenham | Inclusion Gloucestershire

With no family in the area, James was feeling isolated and spending most of his time alone at home, therefore decided to register with the GEM Project to look for a new opportunity.  A wheelchair user for nearly ten years, James often found places difficult to access which in turn was making it difficult for him to socialise and meet new people. 

James and his GEM Navigator Developer Emily considered different job opportunities and voluntary roles, but most would involve travelling to other towns. Emily then contacted a local community social club to ask for advice regarding accessibility in the town.  Manager of BeSocial@TheCentre Vicky kindly invited James and Emily for coffee at the Centre itself which is located close to James’ home and is fully accessible.  Vicky suggested he might like to try volunteering at the Centre which would give him the chance to meet new people in the area, helping members with crafts and various activities on offer at the centre.

“When James started with us at the Centre, he was quite quiet as many people can be in a new unknown environment with lots of new people to meet” said Vicky.  “As he settled into his role his confidence grew.  He started to come out of his shell and then we really got to know James.  He began to converse and engage confidently with our members and befriended the staff and other volunteers.  James took more of an active role in the activities for our members.  However, the major ‘breakthrough’ came one day when he was given the role of ‘Quiz Master’.  Since then he has made the role his own and even made his own quizzes to suit. James is a valued team member and can be relied upon to be proactive and adaptable, he is an absolute pleasure to have as part of our team.”

Before long James decided to increase his voluntary sessions and started helping with paperwork in the office once a month.  

James comments: "Finding this role through GEM has made such a difference to my life. I enjoy helping others and I feel useful again, we have a lot of fun at the Centre too!  I have made some wonderful friends and I like being part of such a great team.  Members of the team phone me regularly for a chat and it is very reassuring to know that I can call on someone if I ever need help.  I would like to say a big thank you to everyone at the Centre for giving me this opportunity and for their friendship."

Lockdown restrictions meant that the Centre had to close for a while.  However, James still prepares a quiz every week which is run virtually on a Sunday evening.  Maintaining contact with his friends and colleagues has been incredibly important for him during this difficult and unsettling time. 


Stroud | Creative Sustainability

GEM signed up to the GEM Project at the start of 2020 after taking a break from work to look after his partner before she sadly passed away.

“Before taking a break from work, I had been in the same job for 30 years so was really unsure about the whole process of job searching and interviews. I also wasn’t a very confident IT user so wanted to build my skills to help me apply for roles.”

Working with his Navigator Developer Anna, GEM began using the library IT buddy scheme to develop his skills and then went on to complete a basic IT course. He was looking at a wide range of roles and as his confidence began to increase, he started to apply for various positions.  

When the COVID-19 lockdown was announced, GEM didn’t let this interfere with his employment journey. He continued to be proactive and apply for jobs whilst starting another online course. He also supported his local community by helping his neighbours with tasks such as their shopping during this difficult time.

A role at his local supermarket was advertised and GEM applied for the post. After following up his application whilst shopping in the store later that week, the manager personally took his application to the administration office and he was invited for an interview the following day.

His persistence and proactive approach led to him becoming part of the team at Morrisons, completing various roles including replenishment, baking and general customer service.

“I’m really grateful for all the help and support from Anna, she was so patient with me. My role is only temporary for now, but it may lead to something more in the future. I’m just really happy to be back at work.”


Cirencester | The Churn Project

Meet Callum, who was supported by Amanda at the Churn Project; a brilliant example to never give up and with a little extra help you can achieve your goals. 

"Before joining the GEM Project I felt lost, I didn’t know what I was going to do and I had no direction on what to do next. I left college as my mental health hit an all time low, to the point where I constantly felt depressed and anxious about going to college. I took some time to prepare what I was going to do next and began by simply applying for various positions on job seeking websites. Sadly, this didn’t work.

I then looked at work closer to home and after applying for a position at a local garden centre was offered the role, working on the tills. However, this was all too much for me, it felt like every customer’s eyes were on me watching and judging me which made me panic – it was too much to take in all at once - I just broke. It made me realise I was unable to cope on my own and led to me taking some medical advice and support to try and help sort out my depression and anxiety.

Months passed and I was still unable to get a job – I even tried to start my own little design business but unfortunately this didn’t work out either.

During this time my Nan had a nasty accident, which resulted in me looking after her for quite some time. This helped to start to build my confidence in finding a job, I began feeling happier and applied for another customer-based role at a local shop. However, the same thing happened to me whilst at the garden centre, so I was referred to an NHS therapist which later led to me being put in touch with the Churn Project. I remember thinking this is my last chance if this doesn’t work, I don’t know what else to do. I wasn’t sure what the Churn Project did, but the moment I stepped into the building and met Amanda I knew this place would help me.

I felt like she actually understood me and what I was going through, I didn’t feel alone and had someone with me helping and encouraging me the whole way.  Together we put a plan together and started to make progress, working on my skillset and developing this, as well as rewriting my CV and supporting me with job applications. As I spent a lot of time looking after my Nan, we looked at caring roles and thought it would be best to get some more experience in this sector.

After arranging a week’s work experience at a local care home, I was handed an application form and invited to an interview. After much research and preparation for this, I am now proud to say I am working as a general bank support worker at the care home.

I’ve now been there over a month and it’s been amazing – I have such a good team of people supporting me, I know they will help me with anything and I’m so grateful for that.

I would recommend the GEM Project to anyone struggling with work or trying to find work as I know in my experience I wouldn’t be where I am without the help from them. They have helped me with more than just work, they built my confidence and life skills too – words can’t describe how thankful I am. They have let me start my life."


Gloucester | GDA

Andy was unemployed for a long time, even though he had been looking for work for years. He went through many job programmes and employability courses but none of these options seemed to work for him.

After joining the GEM Project and meeting with his Navigator Developer Reg at Gloucestershire Deaf Association, they put a plan together to help Andy find work again.

I’d previously been pushed towards roles in the security industry, particularly door supervision. I never saw myself as a Door Supervisor and would never feel comfortable in this role due to my social anxiety issues and hearing impairment. Reg actually listened to what I wanted to do and focussed on this. I have a keen interest in IT, so he suggested possible roles in CCTV.”

The GEM Project funded Andy to complete his CCTV licence and training and Reg got in touch with Glevum Security to see if there were any suitable positions for Andy. After an initial interview and assessment to understand what Andy could hear due to the company’s alert driven CCTV system, Andy completed a work trial training shift and is now employed part time at the company.

“The GEM Project is the first programme that has actually got me a job. GEM is personal and tailored to you. Reg didn’t have to do everything he did, yet he went over and above as he wanted to help. People at GEM actually care about you. It now means that I’m also managing my social anxiety better and have even surprised myself, especially with answering the phone when I’m at work.”

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