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As lockdown restrictions start to lift, our Navigator Developers are now able to start meeting with GEM participants to help support them with their employability journey and general wellbeing.

The safety of our GEM team, participants and the community is our biggest priority and following government guidelines, as well as social distancing, we wanted to ensure that our Navigator Developers were equipped with the recommended PPE.

A massive thank you to our former GEM Ibrahim who has kindly taken the time to make over 50 reusable face masks for our team to use.

Before coming to the UK, Ibrahim was a tailor in Syria. His GEM journey led to him becoming a self employed tailor, with his main contractor being Emma Willis. Read Ibrahim's story here:

Former GEM Ibrahim helps keep our GEM team safe with his brilliant talent

by Nikki Davies

Navigator Developer Sam based at The Brandon Trust, has been working with a GEM who has autism and suffers with social anxiety to help build her confidence and support her with moving closer towards finding employment. The Covid-19 situation dramatically impacted on A’s progress that she had already made, but over time, Sam has helped her to rebuild her confidence.

“A’s social anxiety was so severe that she would not leave the house unless she was with a family member. She also has very low self esteem and confidence, so she never sees the good in her or that she has achieved anything positive in her life.

During our time together we had made great progress, A was coming out with me, trusting herself a little and even made it to an employability program with Commercial Foundation in Cheltenham. She was doing really well, in fact they wanted to welcome her back as a volunteer for the program. Then Covid-19 forced us all into lockdown and A had become really poorly with the virus. She took a few weeks to recover but it was apparent all her confidence had gone. Therefore, over video calling I started to encourage A to try and be more independent around the home, yet one thing she refused to do was go back outside, not even to the garden! We talked a lot about this over our video calls and it was clear to see this virus had affected A. 

By taking baby steps I managed to persuade A to stand in her front garden with me on a video call chatting to her about each other’s surroundings. The following week, we moved as far as her garden gate. Each week we video called, A managed to make it a bit further and ended up a short distance from her house to a green area where we chatted about the houses around us and other things we could see. Over the last few weeks, I have gone in person to meet with her so we can go for walks around her neighbourhood together, adhering to social distancing guidelines.  As lockdown is starting to slowly ease, I can see A becoming a bit more enthusiastic about the future and before long she will be back at Commercial Foundation, volunteering and helping others who are about to start their employability journey."
A's parents are so grateful for the support she has continually received even during this time: 

"My daughter has continued to receive support from Samantha throughout the pandemic. This has aided her enormously. Prior to the virus, A had made great progress - thanks to Sam's unwavering persistence and constant reassurance. From not wanting to leave home or to have any social contact, due to her autism, she was actually attending Commercial Foundation and flourishing. Sam recognised how important it was for A not to waste all the progress that had been made. My daughter has a close bond with Samantha and knows she can trust her . Thank you to the GEM Project, the Brandon Trust and in particular a big thank you to Sam who puts so much effort and care into helping young people with difficulties."

From little steps to an entire walk, our GEM has reached a massive milestone! 

by Nikki Davies

This Friday sees the launch of our new #GEMonline Fakeaway Friday sessions delivered by Healthy Lifestyles Gloucestershire. Each week will have a different themed cook-a-long session, kicking off with a healthy take on a classic Friday favourite.
Join us at 4pm on Friday 3rd July for our Moroccan fish and chips cook-a-long session. This cook-a-long will help you get a healthy start to your weekend, and get you one of your two portions of fish recommended each week! (NHS Eat Well Guide)

All the ingredients are detailed below so you are able to join in too.
This makes four servings, so feel free to reduce quantities as needed.
600g monkfish tails (or cod fillet), trimmed and cut into 5cm pieces
1kg baking potatoes
2 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
½ small cucumber, halved lengthways and finely sliced
1 carrot, peeled and cut into matchstick or peed-peeled into strips
1 tbsp of capers, drained
Small bunch of fresh coriander, leaves picked
4 flat breads or pitta breads
Natural yogurt, to serve
1 tbsp of white wine vinegar
Olive oil (healthy tip - a spray bottle olive oil is helpful for the chips)
Sea salt and black pepper
Please feel free to vary your spices with your preferred flavours and availability, some brands also offer a ‘fish seasoning’ all in one.
½ tbsp of paprika
½ tbsp of turmeric
½ tbsp of ground ginger
½ tbsp of ground coriander
Small bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped.
We will be cooking-a-long, but it would help to get a head start and prepare your fish just before the session begins.
Put your fish in a bowl with all the marinade ingredients, 1-2 tbsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper, mix well for even coating, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. 

** Simply click here to register for the Friday Fakeaway session. **

This recipe is adapted from Jamie Oliver. Take a look at what you will be making here:

#GEMonline Fakeway Friday's with Healthy Lifestyles Gloucestershire

by Nikki Davies

We are so proud of our Navigator Developers and behind the scenes GEM team, and how they are truly 'Going the Extra Mile' to support our participants. 

Here are a few snippets of some of the activities our team has been up to, to ensure our participants have the best access and support to the GEM Project, whilst also helping their general wellbeing. 

During this time, accessing information online is vital but we understand this can be difficult for some of our GEMs without the right technology. Sam from The Brandon Trust recently helped one of our GEMs get access to their own laptop so we are still able to continue supporting them.

"Having this laptop is the best thing that's happened to me in a long time. It's so much easier to apply for jobs and take part in online meetings and I couldn't be happier with it."


Emily, Navigator Developer at Inclusion Gloucestershire has also been continually supporting one of her GEMs and providing online help.  

"Throughout the lockdown period I have continued to engage as a GEM participant.  I have received regular contact and support from my Navigator Developer which has helped me feel connected at a time when other services and opportunities are on hold.  Over the last few weeks I have taken part in a variety of online sessions focusing on interview skills and wellbeing via GEM Online.  The sessions are useful and help take my mind away from negative thoughts.  I am pleased to be continuing in my voluntary role with Inclusion Gloucestershire.  They have provided me with a laptop which enables me to complete admin tasks at home and I engage with my colleagues regularly via Microsoft Teams.  Video conferencing is a new skill for me.  My mental wellbeing has been affected by the lockdown.  However, my engagement with GEM and Inclusion Gloucestershire has helped me to stay positive and connected."


Navigator Developer Daniel from GRCC has also been going above and beyond to help his participants, most recently supporting a GEM in getting a new fridge freezer. After being informed that it was broken, Dan sat on the phone with the GEM whilst they did some mindful arts and crafts to help reduce their stress levels which was strongly impacting on their mental health. He then helped with applying for a grant to purchase a new appliance as well as searching local companies that could provide a fridge freezer that was the correct size and cost. 

The GEM Project is always here to support our GEMs even more so right now

by Nikki Davies

Jen, Navigator Developer based at the Forest Upcycling Project has been supporting a GEM participant during this lockdown period who had been struggling with social isolation and anxiety. 

"Running 100 miles a month and reading are the two things most important to my GEM participant. Over the last couple of weeks I found out that he has run out of books and that his running shoes were worn beyond use. I have been able to get some books to him quite easily but knowing he cannot afford new running shoes I thought I would try social media to see if anyone had a pair they no longer needed. I posted the request on the community page where I live as part of the GEM Project one afternoon, and by the following morning a number of people had offered donations to buy him a new pair - £55 has been given which allowed him to choose his own pair."

Ben, GEM participant comments, "I honestly don't know what to say, I'm absolutely flabbergasted. It's one of the kindest things anyone has ever done for me. I'm sure how I can put into words how appreciative I am. The embarrassment of wearing them out and about never bothered me really, but they had become literally unwearable and were starting to do damage."

The support from Jen and the kindness from the local community has now enabled Ben to continue with his running, an activity that really helps support his mental health and wellbeing. 

Click here to hear Ben's Thankyou

We'd love to hear your #GEMThankyou too. Simply send your message to

Let's share our amazing stories and spread the word about how thankful we are during this time. #GEMThankyou is open to all - whether you are enrolled on the GEM Project, supporting someone on the GEM Project or just part of our wider community.


Ben shares his #GEMThankyou for the help provided to buy some new shoes!

by Nikki Davies

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