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Success Stories

This section provides the chance to read about real individuals and their unique journey in how the GEM Project has helped them to move closer towards employment.

The GEM Project is jointly funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and European Social Fund. 


Cheltenham | CCP

Aamna had been unemployed and a full time Mum since 2011. In 2019, she suddenly and tragically lost her best friend of 20 years which aggravated her depression and she sought counselling.

She had already been diagnosed with various mental and physical health issues and was currently taking anti-depressant medication but the impact of losing her best friend made Aamna spiral further into anxiety and depression.
As time passed, Aamna started to feel a little bit more ready to try and find herself again and look at finding work so was recommended the GEM Project by a family member and met her Navigator Developer Sam.

"I was hoping to get back into an admin-based role which is what I used to do before becoming a Mum. My Navigator Developer Sam understood my personality and interests, as well as my goals and aspirations, straight away, so there was an immediate rapport"

Working with Sam, Aamna’s initial plan was to rebuild her confidence which would then help her to embark on her job searching journey. She has been taking part in various GEMonline sessions including Journaling for Positivity and Decision Making and Assertiveness, both helping her anxiety and wellbeing. She has also been working with Sam to help build her CV and interview techniques and is currently studying a Principles of Business administration course to help her refresh her skills and knowledge.

Aamna’s hard work has really paid off, she had an interview to become a volunteer for Cruse Bereavement, an important cause Aamna was determined to give back to after receiving help from them in the past few years, plus she has also recently celebrated securing employment in an administration role, mission accomplished!

"I would never have been able to begin my employment journey without GEM. The GEMonline sessions have been incredibly inspiring and practically useful, allowing me to focus on remaining calm in any situation. I will take with me everything I have learned and put it to use in my new job when I start. GEM has made a massive impact to my life, people have already noticed the difference in me and that’s what GEM has helped me achieve"


Gloucester | Together In Matson

Before joining GEM Shannon had completed some volunteering work but had never really had a real job.

“I felt I was really lacking in confidence and needed some guidance to either find a training or employment opportunity.”

Working with her Navigator Developer Laura, they both began working on Shannon’s confidence, putting herself first, looking at her potential options moving forward and not letting her past affect her future.

Laura supported Shannon with building her CV and she took part in various GEMonline sessions including mock interviews and CV skills to help build her confidence further. Laura also helped her find a volunteering role and GEM funded a bike so that Shannon was able to get there. These steps have now led to Shannon being offered a paid position as a domiciliary care worker.

“One of the highlights of my GEM journey was when I was bought a bike which enabled me to do a volunteering position. I would definitely recommend GEM, my Navigator Developer was really helpful and gave me the push that I needed. I now earn my own money and have my independence and confidence back.”


Gloucester | Forwards

Susan decided to sign up to the GEM Project as she had been the sole carer for her mother for the past ten years and was currently supporting her grandchild who has autism. She had a wealth of skills and experience, with previously owning her own business along with volunteering experience with CAB, but felt she had no self-confidence, was anxious towards the thought of IT platforms and was confused about which direction to head in the employment field.

Together with her Navigator Developer Michaela, Susan started looking at what skills and experience she had acquired over the last ten years and then began to link her transferable skills to areas of work that would best suit her.

After agreeing to explore customer facing positions, Susan and Michaela looked at various roles including library and support worker positions. After spending time together through Zoom building Susan’s confidence and practicing interview scenarios, Susan was successful with her application and after a positive interview was offered a support worker role.  

“Although this experience has been a massive change to my everyday life and very challenging in some aspects, particularly around using IT, the support from Michaela and help I have received has made this one of the most enjoyable, positive experiences I have encountered. I would not have gained employment if it wasn’t for Michaela’s support.”


Gloucester | Forwards

Haydn has been through a tough journey but he is a classic example that with a little perseverance, it is possible to move forward and find work.

Haydn was home educated which therefore means he has no formal qualifications. Despite this, his ambition one day is to study Mathematics at University, therefore, to help him achieve this he approached a local college to study.

Unfortunately, Haydn suffered with severe mental health problems and had to withdraw from his course. He started to see a therapist to help him with his problems and as his treatment was coming to an end, he contacted the GEM Project to help him rebuild his confidence so he could return to college.

Working very closely with Michaela, his GEM Navigator Developer, they started to take small steps to help Haydn achieve his ambition. However, when lockdown started Haydn’s mental health deteriorated once again, and with the help and support from Michaela, Haydn was offered Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

When the first lockdown was coming to an end Haydn accepted that going to college this year was not possible, so he and Michaela switched their efforts to getting Haydn into employment.

Haydn found this very difficult, but with the support and encouragement of Michaela he worked extremely hard. He overcame one of his biggest fears and began to attend GEMonline employment sessions to give him the skills and knowledge to write his CV and start job searching. Haydn bravely attended a mock interview with GEM via Zoom as well as face to face with Michaela as he found interviews extremely daunting.

Following this, Haydn had two interviews and was immediately offered employment as a customer assistant in a supermarket. He has overcome so much and is really enjoying his new role.


Gloucester | GARAS

A few years ago, Samer came to the UK on the Syrian Resettlement Programme. He spoke no English, but with perseverance and teaching himself as well as attending some ESOL classes at Gloucestershire college, he became a great communicator.

This even led to him becoming a role model for other Syrian refugees; motivating, mentoring and interpreting when needed, going out of his way to support his fellow countrymen to understand their new home, it's customs, language and opportunities, whilst supporting them to get back on their feet. 

Samer was keen to find work, so with the help of his Navigator Developer Sarah, she supported him with job searching and interview role play sessions, which eventually led to him finding work with Pizza Hut in Alfred Street, Gloucester as a delivery driver. 

When the first Covid-19 pandemic hit he had to take some time off work, but quickly returned as soon as he could safely do so. He thoroughly enjoys his role, and continues to develop his skills, improve his English and support others to move on with their lives.      

Also, as part of his GEM journey, Samer volunteered at the Canal and River Trust where he took part in volunteering roles, painted in the Cathedral and cemented the partnership working between GEM, GARAS and the Canal and River Trust.   

David Viner from the Canal and River Trust commented "We are really delighted with the volunteer work that Samer has contributed.  This has led to Samer gaining more experience, making new friends, meeting new people and building confidence, skills and connections."

"I am very happy with Sarah and the GEM Project, she has helped me a lot. I respect her and her work a lot, and if there is anything I can do to help I will do it. A lot of people need GEM from my country; Sarah took me to a job fair and to a factory to talk to people when I cannot. I feel my confidence has got bigger and I had help applying for jobs. David and Caroline at the Canal and River Trust are very good people and I did many things there. Thank you GEM for being there and bringing me Sarah."

Sarah, Navigator Developer at GARAS said. "We worked hard and tried many different approaches with Samer.  It has been a long journey, but we have got there! His consistently positive approach, ability to relate to others, and motivate and inspire are heart warming. He has become a real role model for others.

Samer was always positive, always so grateful for the slightest help I could offer him and he was a joy to work with on the GEM Project. Thank you, Samer for being you and giving me the privilege of working with you."

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