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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