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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 | Artshape

Gail shares her GEM journey so far and how art has helped her heal.

“For a long time I have struggled with quite severe mental health issues including bi-polar disorder.

Over the years, I have lost several people close to me which hasn’t helped me with my state of mind. I tended to just potter around my house and garden and turned to art in order to help me deal with things in the hope of healing me. I started working with cement and making various items including trees and teddy bears.

My artistic friend Dan, actually saw me as an artist… he brought the artist out in me and said how we should work together to create something. Unfortunately, earlier this year he also took his own life.

Then this Summer, I became involved in Gloucester Carnival and volunteered as an artist to help create some of the costumes. This led to meeting Donna at Art Shape and signing onto the GEM Project.

As part of my journey, I organised a community poppy painting workshop, inviting the local community to the Art Shape studio to paint cement poppies that I created. Last year, Dan produced various poppy paintings and I wanted to do something in order to commemorate him and his work but also do something for the local community.

Creating my art pieces has really helped me, it’s given me a focus, and I really want to help others who may also be struggling by providing an opportunity for them to get involved with art.”

The finished poppies will be placed around the local remembrance garden in Brockworth for everyone to enjoy.



Gloucester | GL Communities

Before signing up to GEM Daniel was struggling with an alcohol addiction which resulted in him losing his job. Although he knew he had a problem, he was unsure where to turn and as a result was recommended to sign up to the GEM Project.

Daniel had always been into music to help with his personal issues so worked with his Navigator Developer to turn this hobby into something more. After completing some confidence courses and volunteering at the Phoenix Centre, his self-esteem increased, and he has been playing at several small gigs with one of our other Navigator Developers.

“Joining GEM has been amazing. Dorrett has been like a rock. Playing at the Participants’ Council Summer Event was great – in fact it was my first time playing sober.

My end goal is to hopefully set up a band and to use music as some sort of therapy. It’s really helped me so can hopefully help others too. I’m still on my GEM journey but I’ve come a long way already and feel a lot better!”


Gloucester | Fair Shares

Karl was looking to find work after previously losing his job, which meant he was at risk of losing his home. After helping out at the Friendship Café for a few hours each week, he was put in touch with the GEM Project and met his Navigator Developer Farhanah.

“I had been homeless before and knew I had to find something to stop this from happening again. I was struggling with food and in rent arrears so knew it was time to get help rather than being on my own.”

Farhanah supported Karl to get back on track, and helped him with applying for a Community Researcher role with Gloucestershire Gateway Trust (GGT), a role she had previously done before becoming a Navigator Developer herself.

Now throughout the Summer Karl has been working as a researcher collecting data, views and suggestions from people in the community. This new role has also helped open more doors in the future, by providing the opportunity for him to find out more about different positions with other GGT partners.

“Before GEM I was in a bad place mentally, always anxious and depressed but now I have seen a real change in myself. It’s not only boosted my self esteem and confidence and helped me find a job but also helped me with general life related stress. Working with Farhanah has provided a sense of fresh air, it's been great knowing that you have support and someone just being there to help.”


Cheltenham | CCP

Lisa has suffered with anxiety and depression all her life. With a background in Accountancy and Finance, but being out of work for 10 years, she knew she didn’t want to go back to work in that industry but was unsure where to turn.

“I always felt quite isolated; I knew that I wanted to get back into work but didn’t know how to get there. I turned to yoga around 5 years ago as a means of escape, but never thought I could pursue this as a career.”

Whilst working with the Family Support Service through CCP, Lisa met her Navigator Developer Sam and signed up to the project. Her GEM journey saw her embark on a new career as a self-employed yoga teacher. Lisa completed a Business Start Up course through Gloucestershire Enterprise Ltd which was funded by the GEM Project, as well as obtaining her DBS. She has also had the opportunity to complete a 200-hour adult course in yoga, with the intention to ultimately teach yoga to children and adults to help with any mental health issues they may be dealing with.

Sam, Lisa’s Navigator Developer comments “Lisa was initially extremely shy and anxious in our first meeting. But after some intensive support, I was able to empower her to attend some art groups and a confidence course. From that point on she has gone from strength to strength.

It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Lisa and support her with her yoga business. Seeing Lisa’s confidence grow and achieve so much in the past year really makes my job so rewarding.”

 “It’s been a year long journey, but I’ve now set up my own business ‘Yoganna be’. Sam has been amazing and so supportive throughout my time on GEM. I’d definitely recommend the GEM Project, it’s been transformational!”

Watch Lisa's amazing story here: 



Gloucester | CCF

SJ shares her story about how the GEM Project helped her find an internship at the University of Gloucestershire after struggling to find work due to her visual impairment.


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