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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. 


Stroud | Stroud Valleys Project

Don is a keen gymnast, with a passion for training and exercise. After joining the GEM Project, he decided to follow his interests and looked to complete a Level 2 Gym Instructor course.  

“I really enjoy gymnastics; it helps me to stay focussed and determined in my life and makes me feel happy.”

The nearest course available to his hometown in Stonehouse was in Bristol which meant a four-hour journey to Bristol as well as a bike ride to Stonehouse in the dark.

Don not only found it hard going back to college after not being in education for a long period of time but there were often times he was worried that he wouldn’t pass the course. Then Covid-19 hit which caused further complications. At first, the course continued to run in Bristol, so Don continued to travel on public transport, even during the pandemic. Although extremely anxious, he faced his worries and with the support from his Navigator Developer, he continued the course.

Don has now successfully completed his Gym Instructor course and is now looking to pursue his career with a role in the fitness industry.

“My GEM journey has been really successful. I felt listened to and valued as a person. I was given really good support and it has been a very eye opening, inspiring journey. Obtaining an instructor qualification has given me a real sense of achievement.”



Gloucester | Fair Shares

Before joining the GEM Project, Dan was supporting the Young People’s Project Worker for Fair Shares, helping people in the community from painting to moving furniture. He had also started a Motor Vehicle course at college. However, unfortunately he ended up in prison, which meant he was unable to complete his qualification.

A few years later, just before Covid-19 hit, Dan felt ready to start building his career again and to look for work. He started volunteering again which led to him meeting his Navigator Developer Farhanah based at Fair Shares.

“I have been volunteering since I was 16, even before I went to prison, particularly in gardening and DIY type roles. I’m really keen to pursue an outdoors based career, possibly with the National Trust but as I’ve not done much for a few years after being in prison, I thought I might need a bit of help to get back on the right path.”

Working with Farhanah, Dan has been building his educational profile. GEM gave him his very own laptop so he could complete various online courses including English and ICT skills to help build his CV ready to apply for jobs. He has also taken on several new volunteering opportunities at Fair Shares woodworking workshop, Fair Shares Allotments and City Farm. In November, he will also be working closer towards his career goal with a volunteering position at Robinswood Hill.

“The GEM Project has helped me find out who I am. Not only has it helped me with moving closer towards work, but Farhanah has also helped sort out my life skills. I’d definitely recommend this project to people who may be struggling, it’s helped me move forward and get on the right track again.”




Gloucester | Gloucester Rugby Foundation

Before joining the GEM Project, Leila hadn’t been in any form of employment for a long time. She felt she had little confidence and was unsure what direction to take.

“Before joining the GEM Project, I was new to Gloucester, living in supported housing. I was trying to get, and stay, out of trouble. I needed structure. I was nowhere near confident enough to get a job and my CV was pretty much non-existent. I had no idea what I wanted to do.” 

Through the GEM Project, she came across the HITZ programme which is designed to involve a combination of education, experience, and enrichment to support and develop young people. The project gives young people the tools to improve their health, employability, and wellbeing.

Although she was unable to register for this specific programme, Matt, Navigator Developer based at Gloucester Rugby Foundation offered Leila a volunteering position on the HITZ project. This led to Leila’s self esteem and motivation to find work significantly increase and she is now completing a Level 3 Teaching Assistant course whilst taking part in other volunteering opportunities to build her skillset. 

“Volunteering on the HITZ programme made me realise that I really wanted to work with young people. My confidence grew and I even started looking outside of HITZ to do other voluntary roles with primary schools and gardening.

I have now moved out of supported accommodation, have a full week of volunteering and working experience, and am doing my level 3 teaching assistant course. Seeing the work that Gloucester Rugby Foundation do, as both a GEM participant and a HITZ volunteer has helped me in so many ways.” 


Tewkesbury | GRCC

Faye joined the GEM Project as a young mother of two pre-school aged children. She wanted to find work that was rewarding and meaningful, yet also fitted in with her young family. Faye is also not able to drive so she needed to be able to work locally.

Her Navigator Developer Sophie based at GRCC worked with Faye to help her look at suitable roles and supported her with the decision to pursue a career as a Teaching Assistant. Faye is now enrolled on a Level 3 Supporting and Teaching in Schools course to enable her to achieve this goal. She is also completing a work placement in a local school to develop her skills further.

“I was recommended the GEM Project by a friend who had a great result in her career prospects through the programme. I had an initial meeting with Sophie who was really friendly and understanding of my situation as a Mum of two out of work for a while in a new area. She helped me gain the confidence to take the plunge into retraining as a Teaching Assistant at my local primary school. I honestly don't think I would have done it without her or the project. Thank you GEM for all of the support. You really made a difference!”


Gloucester | Inclusion Gloucestershire

Bel used to work at a University teaching Psychology, with experience in mental health therapy, eating disorders and research. A few years ago, she was in a car accident which resulted in a serious injury and led to ongoing physical and psychological difficulties. Taking into account her background and experience, this hit Bel really hard.

“I joined the GEM Project to find out what possibilities are available for me now considering I know that it might take me a while to get there. I miss working, it has always been so important to me and I miss having that part of my life. I’ve always worked before the accident. I’ve been very scared due to the nature of my health issues and any potential adjustments that may be needed.

I knew I needed to start somewhere especially with being even more isolated due to the Covid outbreak. Emily has really helped to get me going; she has been so patient, caring and supportive right from the start.

Even having no laptop was such a scary thought, I couldn’t pretend to be functional if I didn’t even have the tools which would be crucial to my day to day life, particularly with the majority of activities now being online. Through the GEM Project, I kindly received a laptop which was such a relief.

GEM has also got me taking part in new activities through their GEMonline programme to help my general wellbeing; including planting, yoga and art which have all been great distractions. The Creative Stressbusters session in particular really helps channel my calmness, I feel like a weight comes off during this activity.

I’ve also completed some accredited audit training which resulted in me undertaking four Green Impact audits as part of the GEM Project Green Impact scheme, led by SOS-UK (Students Organising for Sustainability UK).

The team leading this were so pleased with my contribution, they actually asked me to complete some further GP based audits which were much more demanding and complex. Having a key responsibility for this voluntary role and the fact that I was asked to provide further support, has really helped me to feel like I have accomplished something again and started to rebuild my confidence and self-esteem.

I’m definitely further along that I thought I would ever be and GEM is key to that, I wouldn’t have had the confidence without Emily and GEM. She has given me hope that I can have a future.

Before the accident, I was very much ‘work hard, play hard’, but I now need to learn that’s too much pressure for me. I am living a life that’s much different but am now starting to find possibilities again. There have been many bumps along the way, but Emily never treats them as a problem, she always finds a possibility or solution.

Even just helping me get to a position where I can apply for roles again is a massive step for me and I’m so grateful for all the support so far. I’m now able to trust and engage more with people and I even laugh more now than I did a year ago!”  

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