When I started work on The GEM Project in January last year I was extremely excited to get back to working closely with young people. The GEM Project is ‘Going the Extra Mile’ and is all about my being able to help those young people who really struggle with finding employment, education or training.

Being able to help and support somebody to change their life is always the most rewarding part of my job, so it was great for me to be involved in a project with the scope to offer a flexible and wrap around approach to building confidence and planning next steps.

GEM offers 1-2-1 with young people in a unique way to any other project I have worked on. Often, one of the biggest factors to young people engaging in education, voluntary work or even in their communities is actually getting through the door, and within this role I am able to meet young people where they are at, and go with them physically to help them take that first step.

One of my favourite parts of the project so far has been a project that we ran with GEM participants called ‘Mind, Monday and Me.’ This project was a 5 week programme combining therapeutic wellbeing learning and creative arts to offer people a toolkit of skills to help them improve their wellbeing. The group was open and honest about their mental health, which was humbling, and we have continued to meet long after the course has finished to spend time together being creative and offering a support network. Being able to offer a different approach to improving young people’s wellbeing is rewarding, and we are hoping to offer more similar group sessions based on the initial success of this pilot.

I have seen young people turn their whole lives upside down, gaining work, taking huge steps into education and voluntary work, all whilst tackling a whole range of other additional barriers like mental health, homelessness and physical and mental illness. Being able to be a part of someone’s success is always an honour, and I am excited to meet many more inspiring young people as the project progresses.