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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.


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.



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. 


Gloucester | The Nelson Trust

Clare joined the GEM Project in early 2017 via The Nelson Trust, and she was keen to gain volunteering experience and build her skills to work towards become an outdoor fitness instructor.

A mother of two and recovering from alcoholism and mental health issues, Clare had just been able to have her children back and living with her, but things sadly fell apart when she relapsed and was admitted to Wotton Lawn in August that year.  When Clare was well enough to come out of Wotton Lawn, GEM Navigator Developer Michelle supported her on her journey. 

Michelle said:  “I managed to secure a flat for Clare in her own name, and worked with social services to maintain contact with her children, as she decided that she couldn’t cope with being a full-time Mum.”

Clare then took part in an anxiety awareness course - Mind, Monday and Me - funded by the GEM Project, and found mindfulness and meditation at the local Buddhist temple. She also started working with local charity Change, Grow, Live to support her with her recovery.

As a result, Clare became very calm and accepting of life in general and started a health and social care course with the Open University in January 2018. Though Clare decided she needed to put studying on hold, she took on a part-time job at Asda and is now working there full time.  She is aiming to complete her BA in Health and Social Care with the Open University in the future.

Clare said: “The GEM Project and my Navigator Developer gave me the help I needed to get back on track, helped me find what it was I wanted to do and set me on the right path to achieve my goals”.


Stroud | GARAS

Ibrahim was a tailor in Syria working at his family owned factory, with over 30 years' experience in this industry. After losing everything due to the situation in Syria, he came over to the UK on the Syrian Resettlement Programme. One of his daughters was also in urgent need of medical attention and so Ibrahim took the plunge and moved to the UK. 

He met his Navigator Developer Sarah through the support he was receiving through GARAS. She discovered that he used to be a tailor, so wanted to help him pursue a career in this field once again. 

Sarah said "I took a chance at contacting Emma Willis, a well-known tailor in Gloucester. Eve with little English his sewing is so great, I thought it was worth seeing if there was an opportunity for Ibrahim. He had to take a test and make two silk shirts which apparently is really hard to sew, but after the test on Thursday I received a call on Friday, offering Ibrahim a position to start the following Monday."

Ibrahim was employed by Emma Willis for a month, but due to the challenges Ibrahim was facing, including language barriers, family emergencies and understanding UK processes and procedures, it was considered best for Ibrahim to become self-employed. Emma Willis provided lots of support and flexibility to allow this to happen and Ibrahim is now operating his tailoring business from Stroud. 

Ibrahim is now a self-employed tailor, with his main contractor being Emma Willis, but it also enables him to take on other clients -Flax- London being another. 

"I've got big dreams to open up my own factory here in the UK to help other refugees in a similar situation to what I was in. I'm so thankful to everyone who has helped me and my family create a new life here including the support and help from Sarah and the GEM Project."  

If you want to know more about the work Ibrahim is doing, need some alterations or even fancy having something special made for that great occasion, please contact the GEM team and we will pass your details across. 

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