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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