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It’s been evidently clear that wellbeing has been at the forefront of most people’s minds over the last 10 months.

Therefore, we are extremely proud to announce that whilst the GEM Project is predominately an employability-based programme, our latest GEM Interim Monitoring and Evaluation report has found that in 2020 the all-round wellbeing of participants has taken centre stage. The GEM Project has provided a significant lifeline to many during an incredibly difficult year, providing a vital role in supporting the welfare of vulnerable people.

Conducted by the University of Gloucestershire, the 2020 report’s findings indicate that there has been a higher emphasis on health-related outcomes, with improved physical and mental health featuring in the highest outcome change section for the first time since the programme began in 2016.

The results, which take into consideration a comprehensive set of data across the last four years, indicates that participants have experienced a 25% improvement in resilience and self-esteem and a 17% improvement in physical and mental health as a result of their involvement in GEM. Furthermore, it has been discovered that participants who have recorded a mental health condition when registering for the GEM Project have experienced above average improvements to their physical and mental health; clearly evidencing that since GEM began, the programme has had the greatest impact on those who have needed it most.

“During COVID-19 I have found the lockdown quite tough. GEM has been very helpful, I wasn’t anticipating that. GEM works to provide opportunities – they are so holistic and provide varied stuff.” GEM participant.

The GEM Project has always prided itself on the one-to-one support that our Navigator Developers provide, putting our GEM participants at the heart of our project, so this is a massive achievement for it to be recognised and documented.  

This accomplishment would not have been possible without the partnership organisations and GEM's team of Navigator Developers supporting our individuals and providing opportunities to keep them engaged, learning and connected to one another during this significantly challenging year.

Previous Monitoring and Evaluation reports have identified that the GEM Project has continually responded in a positive and flexible manner to the needs of GEM participants, and despite the challenges 2020 brought, this level of responsiveness did not change.

From early April 2020, our focus quickly adapted to support individual’s mental health and safety; ensuring people had access to basic needs including food and medication, whilst providing access to resources and relevant support both from an employability and wellbeing perspective through GEMonline and other online channels.  

As a result, this has further strengthened our partnership and proved how resilient the GEM Project can be during unprecedented times.

“GEM is helpful in giving something to aim for and have some ambition.” GEM participant.

The full GEM Interim Monitoring and Evaluation report can be downloaded here.

participant cohort in th

The GEM Project proves it truly does Go the Extra Mile; putting its GEMs at the heart of the project

by Nikki Davies


As we near the end of 2020, this year has definitely been a challenging and uncertain time. Despite this, we have continued to support our GEMs as much as possible throughout the pandemic with our #GEMonline timetable. Since April, we have delivered our dedicated online GEM programme to hundreds of people, which has been filled each week with employability and skill-based sessions, as well as activities and workshops to keep people entertained and support their mental health and wellbeing during this difficult year.  

However, this wouldn’t have been possible without the support, commitment and enthusiasm from our partners, local businesses and supporters of the GEM Project. Throughout the months, they have dedicated their own time and volunteered to deliver sessions for our GEM participants and the wider community to take part in and enjoy.

From cookery sessions to job searching support, interview skills and tips to magic workshops, career events to photography masterclasses and art workshops to confidence building sessions; we are truly grateful for all the support we have received over these last nine months and would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has made GEMonline possible.

 

A massive thank you to…

Donna Marshall, Navigator Developer at Art Shape for her Creative Stressbusters sessions and support in setting up our new Create Connections session with former GEM Nabeela

Paul Stepney, Navigator Developer at GL Communities for his Music and Song Singalong sessions

Daniel Gale, Navigator Developer at GRCC for his Using LinkedIn Effectively workshops

Matt Russell, Navigator Developer at Gloucester Rugby Foundation for his Chair Exercise classes

Sarah Carne, Navigator Developer at FVAF for her Confidence Building for Job Seekers sessions and CV Workshop

Emily Ashman, Navigator Developer at Inclusion for her Benefits of Volunteering session

Julie Wickham, Navigator Developer at Stroud Valleys Project for her Wild Classrooms session

Sue Guilding, GEM Opportunity Hunter for her Mock Interview sessions, Writing your Cover Letter sessions and new Cookery Corner sessions

Tony Solomon, GEM Opportunity Hunter for his Mock Interview sessions, Magic Workshops and How to sell yourself to interviewer sessions

Jason Dunsford, GEM Project Manager for his Job Searching Skills sessions

Di Barnett, GEM Quality Manager for her General Careers Advice sessions, What is the GEM Project sessions and Transferable Skills workshops

Lisa Sheppard, former GEM and owner of Yoganna Be for her Yoga sessions

Current GEM Andrew for his How to make a Podcast session

Ines Higgins, former GEM for her Beginners German course

Lauren Greening and the GFirst LEP Education and Skills Team for their collaboration on a fantastic Careers Event reaching over 1000 people

Gloucestershire Deaf Association for their Introduction to BSL course

Forwards Gloucestershire for their Creativity through Lego activity

GL Communities for their Benefits session and Business Planning and Cashflow Forecasting sessions

The Nelson Trust for their Body Talk for Women workshops  

Inclusion Gloucestershire for their various themed quizzes

PATA for their Stay and Play at Home sessions

Reyaz, based at Fair Shares for his Photography Skills sessions

David Davies, Your Talent Solutions for his Interview Tips workshops  

Chris Sandy’s, BBC Radio Gloucestershire for his media sessions including Voice Notes and Photography

Adam Fotheringham for his recent Decision Making and Assertiveness course

Jo White, Cooperative Futures for her Business Start-up sessions

Explore Change for their Confidence Building and Group Wellbeing based sessions

Rachel, based at Fair Shares for her Growing Plants in Edible Places session

Healthy Lifestyles for their Friday Fakeway sessions and Breadiation session

Laurence Freshwater for his Cookery Tips and various themed cookery sessions

The National Careers Service for their Careers Guidance sessions

GlosJobs for their job searching based session

Business owner Siobhan for her Online Facials workshop

Prospect Training Services for their Online Learning session

Bee Healthy Stories for their Sugar Detectives session

Access Bike for their Bike Workshop

A massive GEMonline Thank You

by Nikki Davies


This year has been quite challenging but despite this, we’ve still continued to support people to achieve their career-based goals, including a number of GEM participants who have set up their own self-employed business.

To celebrate this, on Wednesday 2nd December at 11.30am several of our brilliant GEMs will take to the spotlight for our GEMonline Christmas Craft Fair to showcase their new businesses and wares; sharing their story behind why they made the decision to produce these products and detailing exactly what items are on offer.

Each item presented on our virtual fair will have been designed and handmade by our GEMs with a number of businesses choosing to use recycled materials to create their products.

Our GEM exhibitors will include:

  • Cufflinks – statement piece cufflinks made using repurposed materials
  • Japanese crafts – bespoke otaku crafts
  • Painted pebbles and slates
  • Decorations and Hair Accessories – made with upcycled materials
  • Art pieces
  • Jewellery pieces
  • GEM Christmas cards

Although you will be unable to purchase any items during the event itself, all details and relevant links will be provided for each seller on how to buy any of the products promoted. Many of our local businesses also offer bespoke items.

Not only will this event support the idea of shopping locally, it will help our former GEMs to promote their new businesses, whilst providing an online Christmas browsing experience for people to enjoy for free.

** Register for our GEM Christmas Craft Fair here or watch our event livestreamed on our GEM Facebook page **

We hope you enjoy the event and thank you for supporting our GEM participants with their new business venture.

Join us for our first ever GEMonline Christmas Craft Fair - supporting our GEMs new ventures whilst shopping local

by Nikki Davies


The outbreak of COVID-19 resulted in widespread disruption for the North Cotswold’s as it has across the country. In order to continue helping people who are facing uncertainty and require support into employment, our Navigator Developer Daniel Gale based at GRCC along with P3 Moreton adapted their previous job club to an online job support club to ensure that they could continue providing job advice and help during this time.

This digital job club approach has also proved beneficial in other ways; it has removed barriers such as transport issues and also allowed for more people to attend, as previously numbers were restricted due to the room size.

Over the last few months, the club has hosted a number of speakers that have offered a plethora of advice and knowledge to attendees. Speakers from Christians Against Poverty, the Churn Project and Volunteers from Cotswold’s Friends, as well as our GEM Opportunity Hunters have all supported the online job club. When the club was held physically, speakers were often harder to come by due to transport and availability, so this has opened up even more opportunities.

Not only has the job club benefitted attendees in a professional capacity, but also in a social one. It has provided numerous digital social interactions and individuals have noted it is one of the more social activities they do in a week due to the isolated nature of the North Cotswolds.

The job club is there to support attendees in moving closer towards or into work and has resulted in people finding employment, self-employment and volunteering opportunities.

If you would like to attend this job club, it takes place every Tuesday from 3pm-4pm via Google Meet. You can access this via this link: https://meet.google.com/kqo-vddh-cia

North Cotswold's online job club: here to support you with finding work

by Nikki Davies


Meet one of our newest Navigator Developer’s Sarah based at FVAF in the Forest of Dean. Sarah has recently joined our team to support GEMs with their employment journey, providing personalised 1-1 support and working together with individuals to create a detailed action plan which is focused on their career goals.

Prior to joining the GEM Project, Sarah had been working in the Welfare to Work and Employability sector for around 10 years. Her role as an employability tutor saw her teaching people how to bring out the best in their skills and experience on their CV’s and at interviews, whilst also teaching subjects such as Customer Service, Digital Skills, Employability, Hospitality and Retail courses.

 

Why did you decide to apply for the Navigator Developer Role?

"Unfortunately, COVID-19 took its toll on the company I last worked for and after 4 months of furloughing the team, they decided to close down.  This gave me an opportunity to re-assess the work I was doing; I had spent the past 4 years travelling extensively for work and being away from home far too much. 

The Navigator Developer role appealed to me as it’s not just another programme that moves people into work or training programmes, the GEM Project takes a holistic approach to each participant and this is something that I feel strongly about, it is really important to me that the customer and their personal circumstances are taken into account when looking at what they do next. 

I also love the fact that I can work within 3 miles of home and be home every day as the whole lockdown experience has really made me realise how much I miss being around my family when working long distances from home."

 

What’s the last couple of months been like working for the GEM Project?

"I have been working for GEM for just over 2 months now and it has been a really fun experience so far. I have met (mainly virtually) some great people that share the same passion for helping people reach their full potential as me and some very inspiring participants.  I took over a caseload of participants from a previous Navigator Developer and worried that they would not take to me after working with such a lovely lady, but they have all embraced and welcomed me into their lives. 

I have had to learn various new procedures and have even developed a new skill of mask making (sewing has never been my strong point but I am loving it at the moment and even invested in a small sewing machine). 

My participants have embraced meeting up in the new socially distanced way (when suitable and possible) and are all really keen to try new things such as creative stressbusting, yoga and CV workshops, it has been great fun getting to know them as well as the GEM team.  I have also had the opportunity to run a few workshops for the GEMonline timetable; a very new way of delivering workshops for me but they were well received and I enjoyed running them and helping the participants that joined in."

 

What has been your favourite part about the role so far?

"I think the part that I have enjoyed the most is seeing my participants move forward and develop in confidence; I have one GEM participant who would not leave the house when we first met and now we meet weekly (in a safe way of course) and she is applying for jobs in Gloucester as she is feeling confident enough to do this.  She has taken part in all sorts of online workshops and says she feels I am really helping her to build her confidence. 

Another of my participants told me that he really feels the support I am giving him is giving him a purpose to get out of bed and start to change some things in his life; this really is why I love this type of work. 

It is great to work within my local community again and have a much better work/life balance."

Our Navigator Developer Sarah shares her experience so far working for the GEM Project

by Nikki Davies


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