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Yesterday over 70 people tuned in to the second Inclusivity Works ‘lunch and learn’ webinar, learning all about neurodiversity in the workplace. As well as exploring the many types of neurodiversity, those who tuned in were also given advice and guidance to maximise potential in both the recruitment process and at work, and given useful pointers on the support and funding available. The lunch and learn webinars are presented in conjunction with experts in their field, this week enlisting the help of Genius Within who offer support to both individuals and employers on this topic.

One attendee commented: “It was really helpful to understand what neurodiversity means how it affects people, what as an employer we can do and how to tap into those hidden skills/attributes.”

The first lunch and learn which took place on Tuesday 16th November explored ‘Deafness in the workplace’ through an interview with Reg Cobb from the Gloucestershire Deaf Association and his interpreter. An attendee fed back after that session: “I enjoyed hearing about how to give opportunities and to understand the strengths that a deaf person in the workplace brings. It helped me to understand what opportunities we can give in the workplace namely a creative role and how we can empower employees.”

Another commented on the format: “I really liked the format with no cameras and videos, so no pressure. Love the lunch time slot. It was nice that it was live information with the option to ask questions.”

Following the webinars, attendees are also sent a summary tips sheet from Inclusivity Works and recordings of the sessions will be available once the current series concludes. If you haven’t already you can still register for the last two webinars, which take place on Tuesday lunchtimes, and will explore ‘Recruiting refugees and foreign workers’ on 30th November and ‘Diversity in the workplace’ on 6th December.  You can register here once to attend both sessions:

Inclusivity Works Lunch and Learn recap

by Harry Cowley

As part of our commitment to share our collective experiences and expertise with a wider range of employers, this November we are delighted to launch our first series of Inclusivity Works Lunch and Learn sessions.

These are a series of free, online lunchtime Zoom webinars aimed at employers, managers, recruiters, HR professionals but also open to anyone with an interest in the subject. The 45-minute webinars, presented by experts in their fields, will offer employers practical advice and guidance whilst you enjoy your lunch. No cameras or expectations, people are free to come along to just one or all of the sessions that are useful and of interest to them.

You only need to register once using this link:

See below for all of the details.  We hope you’ll join us and share with your colleagues and contacts too.


by Harry Cowley

The Inclusivity Works campaign launched by the GEM Project is delighted to announce the first Gloucestershire Inclusive Employers Awards received by organisations who are committed to building an inclusive culture in the workplace.  Each of them have been recognised for embracing and creating a culture where diverse groups of people feel valued, confident and able to be themselves, and have seen incredible benefits as individuals contribute their very best to the organisation. 

At an event held at Gloucester Services on 6th October 2021, awards were presented to 13 employers that have welcomed inclusivity and diversity as part of their working and employment practices, supporting candidates that, for a variety of reasons, have struggled to get into the workplace.  By doing so, they are helping to create a sustainable future for inclusivity in the workplace as well as reaping tangible benefits. 

Adding real business value, not just a good thing to do 

Emma Willis, whose business received an award said: “As a manufacturing fashion business, Gloucester is such a great city to employ as there is so much creative talent enriched by the many refugees who are welcomed and settled in by exemplary organisations such as the GEM Project, GARAS, City Farm and The Friendship Cafe. I met the extraordinarily talented tailor and craftsman Ibrahim through GARAS and the GEM Project, who came with his young family from war torn Syria where he had lost his home and business. We have now employed Ibrahim for three years and he has been an invaluable addition to it our business, leading our Net a Porter production.”  

Event host Gloucester Services also received an award for their ‘Bridging the Gap’ programme, a course designed and run with Gloucestershire Gateway Trust to offer pre-employment support and a guaranteed interview to people who may normally find traditional recruitment processes challenging.   

Hayley Dolling, People Business Partner at Gloucester Services said: “Being part of the bridging the gap initiative has been a great benefit to Gloucester Services. We have gained valuable colleagues who without this opportunity to meet us, may not have made it through our traditional recruitment process. It is not just for those dedicated to looking for a role, but also provides a good personal development opportunity for interviewing and work experience. We are very much looking forward to supporting our next group later in October.” Leading Gloucestershire to become a ‘beacon of inclusivity’ in the UK 

Since 2017 the GEM Project, managed by Gloucestershire Gateway Trust on behalf of Gloucestershire County Council and funded by the European Social Fund and National Lottery Community Fund, have been working to support individuals in overcoming barriers preventing them from gaining education, training or work.  Over the last year they launched their Inclusivity Works campaign aimed at employers.  Its ambition is to make the county a beacon for inclusivity in the UK. And despite the difficulties of the past 18 months’, they have worked with both employers and candidates to embrace the benefits that inclusion in the workplace can bring. 

Jason Dunsford, Project Manager for the GEM Project comments, “We are delighted to have been able to support these organisations on the journey to becoming Gloucestershire Inclusive Employers Awards winners.  Each has worked to achieve an inclusive and diverse workplace, going on to reap a wide range of benefits by doing so, from reduced staff turnover and recruitment costs to positive impacts on staff morale.”  

By sharing business experiences, Inclusivity Works aims to inspire more employers to work in partnership with the campaign and through the support on offer, take advantage of fantastic, talented and motivated potential employees who may not have previously been considered. 

Their website provides a useful online resource hub, underpinned by a series of case studies on real Gloucestershire employers sharing their stories  


The first 13 Gloucestershire Inclusive Employers 

Art Shape 

Caring for Communities and People (CCP) 

Emma Willis Ltd  


Gloucester Services 

Gloucestershire County Council 

Gloucester Deaf Association 


GL Communities  

Inclusion Gloucestershire  


The Nelson Trust 

University of Gloucestershire 

First 13 Gloucestershire organisations receive new Inclusive Employer Award

by Harry Cowley

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

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