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Laughter, tears and cake filled Kingsholm last week, as we joined together to celebrate the last six years of GEM with a special showcase: The GEM Journey.

With the GEM Project coming to an end in December 2022, it was the perfect opportunity to celebrate some of the incredible achievements across the last six years, reminisce with past and present individuals involved in the project, and recognise and acknowledge everyone who has played a part in making the GEM Project such an exemplar and lifechanging programme.

Nearly 200 people took their seats last Thursday and embarked on a trip from October 2016 until today, welcoming some exceptional people to the stage who shared numerous inspirational stories about how the GEM Project had impacted them, their organisation, and the local economy.



Following a moving introduction from former GEM Ines, who despite previously struggling to find work as she is registered blind, is now working as an administrator for Gloucestershire County Council; this set the pace for the afternoon in which guests witnessed many heart-warming, emotional yet amazing stories, as former and current GEMs shared their own personal and unique experience about how GEM and in particular their Navigator Developers had changed their lives for the better.

Chief Executive of GFirst LEP, David Owen, also took to the stage, sharing his views about how he believed Inclusivity Works for employers, and encouraged all organisations in Gloucestershire to be more diverse and inclusive in their workplace, to not only reap the business benefits but help develop Gloucestershire’s economy as a whole.

Several influential guest speakers also joined us for the occasion, including Sue Ormiston, Head of the Building Better Opportunities (BBO) Programme, who shared findings about BBO from a national perspective and Mark Hawthorne, Leader of Gloucestershire County Council providing an overview of the vision and strategy for the county moving forward.

Between poems, speeches, Zoom conversations, mini exhibitions and the chance to speak one-on-one with our GEM participants and Navigator Developers, there were countless opportunities throughout the afternoon to reflect on the real impact that the GEM Project has had over the years, supporting people to move closer towards or into employment, education or training. This was proven in even more detail by guest speakers Leonie Burton and Paul Courtney from the University of Gloucestershire, who have led the Monitoring and Evaluation of GEM for the last six years and confirmed that the data clearly indicates that GEM has achieved and delivered its objectives.


Before guests were invited to continue the celebrations with a drink’s reception, afternoon tea, exhibits and other GEM activities, the showcase was drawn to a close by Jason Dunsford, Head of Employment and Skills at Gloucestershire Gateway Trust, who, since 2016 has successfully managed the project and team.

His final thoughts about GEM truly indicated how much of a unique, memorable, and inclusive partnership the GEM Project is and how its clearly made a lasting impact on thousands of people across Gloucestershire… something to never forget… GEM’s lasting legacy.

The GEM Journey: our story from 2016 until 2022

by Nikki Davies