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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 | 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: 



Cheltenham | GRCC

Jodi, a single mum, had not worked for over 10 years and was volunteering at the Cornerstone Centre in Cheltenham, helping out with the homework club and the conversation cafe for females whose English was their second language. Jodi had no formal qualifications but was keen to do a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) course. 

It was at Cornerstone that Jodi met Amanda from GEM who invited her to attend an employability course. 

"GEM helped me to attend a TESOL course at Inlingua, an international language school. It was a month long and and very intense but I put everything into it. Amanda supported me throughout and kept me strong."

Following the completion of the course Amanda actually secured a job as a teacher at Inlingua. 

"Having a job has made a huge different for my and my family, I'm happy, my children are proud of me because I'm a teacher and it sets a good example for them. My daughter wants to follow in Mum's footsteps! I feel like for once in my life I've found something really, really worthwhile. I would definitely recommend GEM to my friends, it's just so good - it's life changing."


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.



Gloucester | Artshape

Julie joined the GEM Project having heard about it through Artshape. Initially Julie trained as a Graphic Designer but has also worked as a chef, until a back injury as well as mental health issues changed things. Suffering with anxiety and depression, she got involved with Artshape where she has since spent countless hours on her beautiful artworks. 

Julie said "The GEM Project has really helped me to get information about how to advertise my work and get it out there. Donna, my Navigator Developer encouraged me to run a market stall in Stroud and had my designs printed onto pencil tins, cups, compact mirrors and bags. It helped my confidence in talking to people and was the first time I'd ever had my designs printed in that way". 

In January, Julie's art, along with others from Artshape, was put on show in an exhibition at Gloucester Cathedral, themed around Odyssey. GEM Navigator Developer Donna said: "Julie is a very accomplished artist and her work really does speak for itself. We are working on supporting Julie to exhibit her work and get maximum exposure, and moving towards setting up a professional website and self-employment. I'm excited for Julie's future and always look forward to seeing her new creations."

Ultimately, Julie dreams of becoming a freelance artist, commissioning work or illustrating books, but would also like to help others enjoy the therapeutic benefits of working with art materials. 

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