After attending the British Army Catering College as a young man, Martin left the armed forces and took on a variety of jobs in the hospitality and engineering industries. In 2017 whilst working as a Warehouse and Production Operative at Autonumis in Stroud Martin suffered a heart attack.
“After leaving Autonumis because of my health I started to struggle. I was stressed, anxious and depressed and was not keen on accepting help or support. Eventually my GP referred me to Lisa, a Social Prescriber based at the surgery. I met with her and she told me about the GEM project. Lisa put me in touch with Tristan at GL11 Community Hub and we met in Café 53 in Tetbury, which is where I live” comments Martin.
GL11 is a partner in the county wide Going the Extra Mile (GEM) Project which is committed to supporting individuals to move them closer towards education, training, volunteering or work. The project is distinctive in that support is tailored around the specific needs of the individual, working at their pace, building confidence, self-esteem and motivation. This programme is a unique and unprecedented partnership of community based organisations, managed by Gloucestershire Gateway Trust on behalf of Gloucestershire County Council. The GEM Project is jointly funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and the European Social Fund.
“I found Tristan really helpful”, adds Martin “I was nervous at first, not wanting to accept help, but Tristan is a good listener and he made me feel at ease. We explored various options, he helped me update my CV and we then found a Cook’s job through the Indeed website. I applied, got the job and I now work full time at Rugrats & Halfpints in Cirencester. Now that I am working, I feel much better in myself and I’ve even started helping at a friend’s allotment. We are growing spring onions, cabbages, black currants and strawberries”.
“Working with Martin has been very rewarding, it has been a pleasure to watch his confidence grow and find work that is suited to his passion for food,” reflects Tristan Dunlop, GEM Navigator Developer at GL11. “When Martin was referred, it was clear he had a wealth of skills and experience and was motivated to find work following his health issues. I initially supported Martin with his applications, but as his confidence increased, he was able to apply for jobs independently”.
Social Prescribing is a means of enabling GPs and other frontline healthcare professionals to refer patients to a link worker – a Social Prescriber – to provide them with a face to face conversation during which they can learn about the possibilities and design their own personalised solutions, i.e. ‘co-produce’ their ‘social prescription’- so that people with social, emotional or practical needs are empowered to find solutions which will improve their health and wellbeing, often using services provided by the voluntary and community sector. It is an innovative and growing movement, with the potential to reduce the financial burden on the NHS and particularly on primary care.