Deck the halls with something really special

As Christmas fast approaches, if you’re looking for a unique and locally produced decoration or gift, you can now buy the most beautifully handcrafted Christmas birds, stars and bells – created by a community group in a Gloucester sewing studio – exclusively at Gloucester Services and Tebay Services.

It’s a project that’s been in the making since March, when we took some Gloucester Services producers, along with colleagues from the Westmorland Lifestyle team to meet some of our amazing community partners. Whilst at The Friendship Café to see Fair Shares, we also arranged to call in to the Emma Willis Sewing Studio, run by Aysha Randera, and that’s where the story begins…

Watch our short film: this year’s Christmas story, as a community group handcrafts decorations for Westmorland, to be sold at Gloucester Services and Tebay Services

The Westmorland Lifestyle team instantly loved what was being produced in the sewing studio and saw a fantastic opportunity, and conversations began about commissioning Christmas decorations to be sold in the Farmshops at Gloucester Services.

“I’d been looking for the perfect opportunity to introduce the sewing studio to Westmorland as I knew it could be a great connection. We’re always keen to bring in local producers, especially those in the communities we work alongside. Even better that this is a community group of women who all support each other and produce such unique handcrafted pieces. We were over the moon when they were commissioned for the Christmas decorations!”

Clare Skivington, GGT’s Community Support Manager

Work started immediately, and Aysha had a fantastic idea to use fabric from donated saris to create Christmas birds, each one unique and special, crafted from fabric that had been on its own special journey. Aysha also asked Sue, a retired teacher and keen crochet artisan, to create designs for two more decorations, and the bells and stars were born.

Aysha Randera who runs the Emma Willis Sewing Studio shows Tracey Clowes from Westmorland some of the bears they had produced for a project to support Ukraine

“When I first met Aysha and the sewing room group I was blown away by their creativity, their community, and their ability to make beautiful individual pieces each with its own personality. Having the gorgeous Christmas decorations that they have made on our shelves at the services feels like a fabulous first step towards us being able to both celebrate their skills and make commercial products that customers can also enjoy.”

Tracey Clowes, Head of Lifestyle at Westmorland

Commissioning over 600 decorations in total and each bird, bell and star individually crafted by hand, the women of the sewing studio had a huge job in front of them, but they pulled together with everyone finding a task and wow did they exceed our expectations!

Emma, who suffered a serious car accident a few years ago, played a huge role in supporting the project and helping the other women to develop their own skills and confidence. She said: “I’ve gone a long time, and lots of years thinking that I can’t do things. Now I’m part of something really big and I can do it, and I’ve just enjoyed it so much.”

Some of the women who created the Christmas decorations at the sewing studio in Gloucester

As part of the opportunity, Aysha created the Amanah Community CIC. Aysha said: “In my heart I always knew this would be something special. It’s given people a sense of belonging. Thank you to Westmorland Family for this incredible opportunity, and to Gloucestershire Gateway Trust for supporting us throughout this process.”

You can now purchase these fantastic and unique Christmas decorations in the Farmshops at Gloucester Services and Tebay Services.

From farm to the local community; Wholly Gelato are proud to be a Gloucester Services supplier

Written by Will Lee, Wholly Gelato

“As small businesses, we often feel so stretched in terms of time, resource, energy, capability, often all at the same time. Though we go about our work with a passion and a determination to see our products thrive and sales soar, all too often it can result in us feeling as if we are in some sort of “bubble,” inadvertently exiled from anything “non-business” related. For our dairy farm business, we have come to the end of a busy summer season, straight into autumn calving and preparations for the opening of our new gelato bar in Gloucester Food Dock – probably about as much of a “bubble” as you can imagine. 

Emily and Will from Wholly Gelato, who offer award-winning gelato and free range milk from their farm in Elmore, Gloucester

Which is why our visit to some of Gloucestershire Gateway Trust’s community partners was exactly what we needed at exactly the right time. Spending the day hearing about some of the most inspiring and worthwhile causes in different communities across our city, and seeing just how much is happening, really propelled us from our day-to-day worries and opened our eyes to some of the most generously kind and hard-working people, striving to make lives better for those of all ages and stages, in times of great need and uncertainty. At multiple points throughout the day, Emily and I turned to each other and remarked how important we felt this day was to focus us away from our usual day to day concerns, and open our eyes to the far more legitimate concerns and needs of others – truly humbling. 

Though we knew of the partnership Gloucester Services had with Gloucestershire Gateway Trust, we were not totally aware of just how deep and enduring that connection was. Growing up in Gloucester, we can recall the initial outcry when the services was first proposed – but to hear of the way in which the local community in Matson (and wider) really fought for the concept, and to see what the concept has transpired to be, shows the value of perseverance in the face of opposition. 

Also joining the Community Day were fellow producers from Non-Solo Pasta, Gloucester Biltong and The Artisan Baker, as well as colleagues from Gloucester Services and the buying team from Westmorland – pictured here at Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust on Robinswood Hill

We have always felt proud to be a Gloucester Services supplier. The values that the Westmorland Family promote are so tangible for all the many hundreds of businesses that are privileged enough to see their products and wares on the shelves – but to know of just how impactful the sales are for the partners that we visited and the people they support, makes us feel doubly proud of the relationship. As a Christian business, we have always tried to follow the mantra of “be blessed to bless others.” Yet there can be no clearer example than in that which we were privileged to see on the day we came out of our bubble. 

We would so encourage other businesses (when given the opportunity) to visit these amazing teams and places – as businesses we can always learn from others around us, and the values with which they go about what they do. This is one of the most valuable and important things we have done this year – we wish all partners every success with all ongoing projects and initiatives.”

Emily and Will hear from GL Communities Wellbeing Coach about some of the support they provide to the local community.

Wholly Gelato were also joined by several other Gloucester Services producers, including The Artisan Baker, Non Solo Pasta and Gloucester Biltong, along with colleagues from Gloucester Services and several members of the Westmorland Buying Team. Together, the group ventured around the city visiting a number of our brilliant community partners including The Ewe Space, GL Communities, Play Gloucestershire, Fair Shares and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, providing the opportunity for them to see first hand the direct impact selling their produce at Gloucester Services has on the local community.

Gloucestershire Gateway Trust receives up to 3p in every £1 of non-fuel sales from Gloucester Services to invest in our local communities.

A new limited edition goes on sale at Gloucester Services

Hot on the heels of the Channel 4 series ‘A Cotswold Farmshop’, four budding food entrepreneurs from Gloucester who took part in the ‘Limited Edition’ business skills course today saw the product they created from scratch go on sale at the award-winning Gloucester Services Farmshops.

The ‘Limited Edition’ course – a unique collaboration between Gloucester Services, Gloucestershire Gateway Trust and Hobbs House Bakery – was created to give aspiring food producers from Gloucestershire the opportunity to learn the end-to-end business skills needed to launch a product and create something real that would go on sale.

At the Gloucester Services bread table – with the Limited Edition participants, Gloucestershire Gateway Trust, Hobbs House Bakery, Westmorland and The Engine CIC

The only brief was to create a bakery product to join the enticing bread table that welcomes M5 motorway travellers with fresh local produce. After carrying out product research and visiting Hobbs House Bakery for an insight to production, the group began to learn how to work up their ideas including costings, pricing strategies and marketing.  Three ideas were pitched to a panel of judges and the winning recipe was a unique Milk Loaf with Fenugreek.

Childhood inspiration

The team’s inspiration for a milk loaf stemmed from childhood memories of light and fluffy freshly baked bread, adding fenugreek for its health benefits and to acknowledge the diversity of Gloucester, and the team themselves. Course participants Wanja and Norma grew up eating milk loaf in Kenya, whilst Ashwin came up with the idea of adding Fenugreek which is well known in his native India for its health benefits.

The Limited Edition summer 2023 course participants from left to right – Wanja, Viva, Ashwin and Norma

Originally from the Philippines, the fourth participant on the course Viva O’Flynn moved to the UK in 2018 and started her own business.  Viva said:

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to develop my business skills for free, it has been inspiring and life changing.  I have been to Gloucester Services many times and imagined what it would be like to have my products sold there. Taking part in the Limited Edition course has helped me to understand what buyers are looking for and I have learnt so much from the tutor and the other participants. I wish more people could experience this course.”

Hobbs House Bakery made the product a reality and the Milk Loaf with Fenugreek is now on sale and can be found on the bread table at the front of the Farmshops, alongside a QR code to allow customers to find out more about the unique product.

The Limited Edition Milk Loaf with Fenugreek was inspired by childhood memories

This Limited Edition course was funded by Adult Education in Gloucestershire, part of Gloucestershire County Council, through the national Multiply adult numeracy programme, and delivered by local social enterprise The Engine Room CIC.

Charlie Marwood, Top Cog at The Engine Room which is based in Dursley, said:

Working with a small group of enthusiastic entrepreneurs enabled us to focus on the principles behind good business practice. The team developed product ideas, carried out research, learnt about production techniques and built budgets to support everything from marketing, pricing strategy, cost analysis, profit margins and potential discounting to bring a successful new product to Gloucester Services Farmshop. The course has delivered skills, growth, confidence, ambition and friendships. I am particularly grateful for the enthusiasm and hard work of all involved.  A fabulous course to be involved with – thank you all.

Jason Dunsford, Head of Neighbourhood Learning and Work at Gloucestershire Gateway Trust said:

“In addition to reinvesting up to 3p in every £1 spent at Gloucester Services in our communities, we are passionate about connecting local people to the business through jobs, creative opportunities and as suppliers. This course was about improving business maths and marketing skills but also to raise the confidence of people looking to take that next big step to start or develop their business idea. We are committed to finding and nurturing talent from our local communities and excited to see what the future holds for this course’s participants.”

Now they’re scone

Now they’re scone

The first Limited Edition course which ran at the end of last year saw participants from the GEM Project create the ‘GEM Scones’, which celebrated local produce with the use of local apples and Double Gloucester cheese in the ingredients.

The GEM Scones were on sale as a Limited Edition product in the Gloucester Services Farmshop during November and December and sold over 600 packs.

The GEM Scones were created by participants on the Autumn 2022 Limited Edition course

Find out more about the Limited Edition course and watch our short film.

Stitching a piece of history

“I am a freelance costume maker born, raised, and based in Gloucester. I graduated in BA Costume Design and Making at Nottingham Trent University in 2018 and have since been working at various costume studios, workrooms and independently at my studio pod working in collaboration with designers, directors, prop makers, start-up fashion brands and now, with the community.

Katie with a panel that has been stitched for the Costume of Gloucester, and is currently on display in the Gloucestershire Gateway Trust Community Gallery at Gloucester Services Northbound

To support my studies, in 2016 I applied for a position at Gloucester Services as a team member in the Quick Kitchen, coming home from Nottingham to work during the holiday periods. I really enjoyed the fast-paced environment, getting to meet such a variety of people every day and working within a fun, close-knit team. I have been coming back part-time since, and still return there in between my freelance projects!

I have been wanting to expand into community arts for a while now and to connect with local organisations and develop a greater sense of vocation in my work (using my skills to help others). So of course, I was very pleased when I bumped into Jacqui Grange, creative director of Voices, Gloucester, who was on the lookout for a costume maker for their Threads 2023 programme. After later meeting with the project co-ordinator, Jo Teague, and hearing all about the ideas they had for a ‘Costume of Gloucester’, I knew I had to help them realise their vision!

The ‘Red Dress’ on display earlier this year at The Friendship Café in Gloucester

The project is inspired by the beautiful ‘Red Dress’ by artist Kirstie Macleod ( which features the work of 375 embroiders from 51 countries, documenting the stories of people who otherwise may not have their voice heard. The Costume of Gloucester aims to do this on a smaller scale, helping to promote the talent of local stitchers in the community but to also tell the history, stories and memories of the city.

Katie’s design for The Costume of Gloucester

My role within the project is to design, and then make, the costume which will be worn on Gloucester Day parade and then place and stitch over 100 pieces of embroidered cloth that will be submitted towards the end of July by the local community. I have decided on making a panelled coat that is gender-neutral with a nod to historical dress such as doublets from the Tudor period. It will feature flared sleeves that the performer will hold up so the embroideries can be showcased at the parade.

Having worked at Gloucester Services for over 6 years, I know they value sharing community projects, local creatives and promoting the hard work that their colleagues do, therefore I reached out to Gloucestershire Gateway Trust (a community charity who have shared ownership of Gloucester Services) about displaying some of the work for the costume. It was amazing to see the gallery in person for the first time, seeing some of the initial stitches that will contribute to the costume and knowing that the work will be seen by summer visitors. I felt very proud to be involved in such a fantastic, ambitious project!

For the main fabric of the costume, I have chosen a lovely aqua green colour, sourced from the local Gloucestershire Resource Centre. Growing up, I was known to rock full outfits in this colour, and I’ve always been drawn to cool tones, so I guess that is my own personal touch!

The early stages of constructing The Costume of Gloucester

I’m currently in the early stages of construction, but what I’m most looking forward to is to begin receiving the panels from the local stitchers in July and start piecing together the puzzle of how they will placed on the costume! I really enjoy the logistics and problem solving side of costume making, there is a lot of maths involved as well as using your designers eye! And, of course, I absolutely can’t wait to see the costume in action on Gloucester Day and on exhibition at the cathedral in September, to be able to meet everyone involved in the project and hear their stories!”

You can see lots more photos, designs and stitched panels on display in the Gloucestershire Gateway Trust Community Gallery at Gloucester Services Northbound, in the corridor leading to the seating area that runs past the toilets and behind the Kitchen.

Our gift from France

“Hi. I am a French student my name is Tom and I am 18. In early 2023 I came to England for five weeks to study the Gloucestershire Gateway Trust (GGT) by being involved in some of it’s support charities. Coming here was for me the opportunity to discover the business model of the GGT, meet different kinds of people that I don’t normally meet and improve my English.

French student Tom pictured at the Gloucester Services Farmshop during his visit.

During these five weeks, I visited a lot of partners working with GGT but I was principally involved in four of them. 

The first was “Read With Me”, my job was to go to two schools 2 or 3 times a week and read with individual children to practice and improve their reading. 

The second was “The Venture” , a children’s play area. I went there twice a week to do some activities with children after school like face painting, playing outside or making music. 

The third was “Renew” at the Matson Baptist Church and my job was to spend some time with older people to have a chat or play some games on Friday mornings.

The last one was “The Food Drop”, my mission was to help to organise the food collected from stores to be distributed to people who needed it.

Thanks to all these organisations and to some meetings which I attended, I know more about the business model of Gloucester Services and how it’s beneficial for all local people. It has created 400 jobs for local people giving opportunities to earn a living. In addition, up to 3p in every £1 spent there comes to GGT to go back into the communities they work with. Then the community groups can do their best to help local people, so it’s beneficial for everybody.

In my time here I did a lot of things but some of them will stick in my mind. For example, the kindness of everybody to me whether it was other volunteers or beneficiaries; they were all very lovely with me. I will also remember the smile of the children in school when they are reading a story that they love because for some of them it’s the only moment where they can read to a young French student.

This trip was very interesting also because it was my first time volunteering. Now, I know how good it is to volunteer in a charity because you feel yourself useful for other people and you are helping them to be happy. After this experience, during my life I will want to volunteer again in another charity because I will remember some very good moments and I met a lot of lovely people. I think I was very lucky to be a volunteer in GGT because it’s a big foundation with a lot of charities doing a lot of different things. I don’t know if I will have the opportunity to be in such a big foundation like that again in my life because I have never seen that in another country.

Thanks to this trip I discovered a lot of things about charities and English culture. To finish I think that my favourite activity was to play music with children at The Venture.”

Seeing the real impact

Yesterday we had an inspirational day of togetherness, community learning, connection building and idea sharing, as we welcomed eight brilliant local Gloucester Services producers to join us for a very special outing.

We’re all about making connections and building partnerships, so together we visited some of our community partners so that the producers could see the impact of the investment that we are able to make, thanks to the sales of their produce at Gloucester Services.

From sausage roll producers to clothing specialists, we were delighted to be joined by Cinderhill Farm, Gloucester Brewery, Beaus Bakehouse, Hobbs House Bakery, Godsells Cheese, Humphries and Begg Home, Made in Stroud and ZeroDig, plus several members of the Westmorland Lifestyle Buying Team for an eye-opening, enjoyable trip.

Pictured at The Redwell Centre in Matson

First stop was a visit to The Ewe Space in Matson; taking the group back to where the vision of Gloucester Services began as an idea of local residents, and where Gloucestershire Gateway Trust (GGT) came to be based to make it a reality. The Ewe Space is also now home to the Matson and Robinswood Residents Group, a GGT community partner.

Next door live another of our community partners, the amazing GL4 CIC who bring incredible arts, theatre and culture to Matson, so we popped in to hear about what they have coming up.

We then headed to see our City Works neighbour and community partner Play Gloucestershire, where Director of Play Ben Morris talked about the tremendous work this organisation does to support children, young people and even parents, through active and creative play.  

Aysha who runs the Emma Willis Sewing Studio pictured with Tracey, Head of Lifestyle at Westmorland

At community partner Fair Shares, based in Barton and Tredworth, the group learnt about timebanking, which is based on the concept of two-way volunteering to give and receive support within communities. It then got really creative as the group were treated to a special viewing of their woodworking workshop, as well as the Friendship Café ‘Emma Willis’ sewing studio, where Aysha told us all about how the studio started, what they offer and how it supported her own personal journey.

Deborah from Cinderhill Farm admires a table made by a participant in the Fair Shares Woodwork Workshop

Our last community partner stop of the day was back in Matson at The Redwell Centre. Warmly greeted as always by Vanessa Worrall, Project Manager at the Redwell Centre, we had a tour of the building and talked about how this community hub offers support, a safe space and the goal of happiness, through a diverse range of activities, clubs and everyone being welcome.

Mark Gale talks to a Mindfulness Coach who runs sessions at The Redwell Centre

After an extremely informative and motivating morning, the tour finished with a delicious lunch kindly served by Emma Wilson and her team at the Long Table Matson; a community café with the aim to make locally sourced and homemade food available to everyone.

Finishing off with a delicious lunch at The Long Table Matson

“It meant a great deal to meet and see first hand the work that is being done by the communities that inspired and drove Gloucester Services.  It really is a remarkable model of a highly effective symbiotic relationship where all parts contribute to and benefit from the core relationships.”

Deborah Flint, Cinderhill Farm

A massive thank you to all of our community partners who took the time to welcome our guests and share such inspiring, heartfelt stories, and of course to the Gloucester Services producers and Westmorland Lifestyle Buying Team for also taking time out of their busy schedules to join us for this event.

Gloucestershire Gateway Trust receives up to 3p in every £1 of non-fuel sales from Gloucester Services to invest in our local communities.

A big welcome to our new trustees

Some great news to start the year, we’re delighted to announce the appointment of two new Trustees who will be joining the Gloucestershire Gateway Trust board from the start of 2023, so a huge welcome to Pip Levett and Monique Smith.

As former Director of Play at Play Gloucestershire, Pip has been working with Gloucestershire Gateway Trust as one of our community foundation partners since the very beginning of our partnership with Westmorland and the creation of Gloucester Services.

 “I’m thrilled I’m going to become a Trustee of GGT. It is an incredible charity that is a force for good across Gloucestershire and truly believes in the power of people and communities. I’m looking forward to finding out more about the amazing projects that GGT funds and to use my skills and experience in community development to help them deliver the best possible outcomes for the people that need them most.”

Pip Levett, Trustee

Also joining the GGT board as a Trustee is Monique Smith.  Monique manages Gloucestershire’s careers service and has connected many people to the GEM Project and job opportunities at Gloucester Services. 

Monique said: “​I  am really excited and honoured to join the GGT team as a trustee as l feel the work that is accomplished in the community has changed lives and has supported many people and organisations and charities. I am a Gloucester resident and have worked in advice and guidance for over 20 years and would now like to use my knowledge to help continue the good work that the trust do.”

Monique Smith, Trustee

We know that Pip and Monique are going to be a wonderful addition to our team.  Chief Executive of GGT Mark Gale summed it up: 

“We are delighted that Monique and Pip will be joining our Board of Trustees. Together they bring a wide range of experience in play, learning and skills development from a community perspective. I am certain Pip and Monique will help keep improving the impact of our Trust’s work in these challenging times.”

Read their bios and find out about the rest of our team and trustees on our meet the team page.

We have three new partners!

After the first five years of a successful community partnership with nine organisations receiving over £900,000 in funding from Gloucestershire Gateway Trust (GGT), we are delighted to announce another three organisations as official community partners.

Thanks to our unique partnership with Westmorland and stake in the business at Gloucester Services on the M5, we at GGT receive up to 3p in every £1 of non-fuel sales which we reinvest into the communities and neighbourhoods that we alongside, with the help of our incredible community partners.  In total, Gloucestershire Gateway Trust have reinvested over £1m into groups in the communities we work with between 2017 and 2022.

Read With Me, GL4 CIC and the Matson, Robinswood and White City Community Partnership (MRWCCP) will now join our partnership and benefit from community development grant funding from Gloucestershire Gateway Trust for at least three years, as well as the many other benefits partnerships can bring. 

Breaking down barriers

GL4 were formed in 2016 and have been bringing fantastic live events, youth participation and community engagement to Matson ever since, from touring theatre and shows to virtual reality dancing, they’ve been breaking down barriers and showing that arts and culture is open to everyone. 

“We are thrilled to have become a GGT partner. GGT have always been supportive since GL4 started. Becoming a partner now means we have financial security and can continue to bring high quality events to the community. “

Sarah O’Donnell, GL4 CIC

The Matson, Robinswood and White City Community Partnership (MRWCCP) is a forum of community organisations and people who work together to create bottom up social and economic plans and tackle negative perceptions of the ward, as well running events to draw in the arts, boost confidence, ask questions and suggest solutions.

“Having enjoyed the encouragement of GGT over the years, the Partnership is delighted to join as a full partner.  The increased support will allow us to develop as an organisation and be in a better position to represent the ward and its residents and its wonderful voluntary and statutory bodies.”

Bob Allen, Chair of the Matson, Robinswood and White City Partnership

The third new organisation to become an official partner, Read With Me, was set up by Linda Cohen during the pandemic, as it is estimated that 1 in 5 children leave primary school unable to read which can result in dramatically reduced employment opportunities in the future.  Read With Me now has a team of over 100 volunteers who work closely with local schools, hearing over 1,500 children read every week as well as providing school holiday provision and Rhyme with Me for preschoolers. 

“Gloucestershire Gateway Trust have been at our side for the last two years, a constant source of advice, encouragement and help when it was needed. We’re very proud of what we’ve been able to achieve together, and we are so pleased that Read With Me has become an official community partner.  It serves to not only further cement our relationship but gives a firm foundation on which to continue to scale and ensure sustainable provision for the communities we serve.  It’s an ever-present challenge to secure funding, the generosity of this support is transforming.”

Linda Cohen, founder of Read with Me

Long-term funding made possible for twelve Gloucestershire community organisations

After an in-depth review at the end of the first five years which ran from April 2017-2022, GGT are also very pleased to confirm that the existing nine community partners will also continue to receive the same level of funding. Mark Gale, Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Gateway Trust said:

“We love our partners, each one is an essential part of our local communities. We’re excited to add 3 new partners bringing the total to 12. Co-operating for the benefit of our neighbourhoods brings added value to everybody. Of course this community investment is only possible because of the success of Gloucester Services and our partnership with Westmorland which came about as a result of local residents vision for the future. This is a great virtuous circle.”

A service station like no other

Over 20 years ago, conversations began between residents on the social housing estate of Matson in Gloucester about how to turn the nearby M5 motorway into an asset to create local jobs and sustainable income, and the idea of a new motorway service station was born.

Gloucestershire Gateway Trust formed a unique partnership with a family business, Westmorland, to bring this vision to life with a pioneering model of social investment and the creation of Gloucester Services on the M5.  Both have a stake in the business.  Gloucester Services has exceeded its charitable goals and created over 400 jobs, employed over 100 people specifically from ‘target’ local communities, and supported over 130 local producers within 30 miles of the services and a further 70 within the region. 

“Community and charity are the absolute foundations of Gloucester Services. The partnership has flourished over the years and as the trust invests in local communities this benefits our business enormously. Investing in charities at a local level helps to build vibrant communities, bridge gaps in areas like literacy and mental health provisions, invest in the arts and inspire people to be their very best. The children we assist today to learn how to read may well enter our business down the line as both customers or colleagues.  We hope through our continued partnership, we will be able to work on many initiatives in the future which support those needing jobs and bring investment back into our local communities.”

Sarah Dunning, Chair of Westmorland

Our biggest BTG yet!

This week we welcomed our biggest group ever onto our ‘Bridging the Gap’ pre-employment skills course at Gloucester Services.  Many of the 11 people that took part came to the course through the GEM Project

“The course was really good, it gave you an opportunity to practise answers, questions and helped with introducing yourself, it helped with my confidence.”

Starting on Monday at The Phoenix Centre in Matson, the group spent time building each other’s confidence by identifying individual skills and bringing out their personalities in preparation for a real interview at Gloucester Services on Wednesday.

The group also had the opportunity to try out some of the jobs available at Gloucester Services to see what they were like and which roles they enjoyed the most.

“It was a great environment, shame it wasn’t longer!”

Executive Chef and team manager Crystal from Gloucester Services along with fellow manager Tom got involved in the group interview at the end of the course and were really impressed.  Crystal said:  “They were an invigorating group, they all showed a depth of knowledge of the company that was a breath of fresh air”.

Tom said of the participants: “An enthusiastic passionate and knowledgeable group, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting everyone and being a part of the process.” 

“All the skills I learnt and information were all really useful for the future.”

This Bridging the Gap course was run with the help of HR People Support, and is the seventh course of it’s kind that GGT have offered alongside our colleagues at Gloucester Services.  

Gloucester Services was created to offer sustainable jobs and income to local people, but recognised that for some, traditional recruitment processes can be a barrier, and so Bridging the Gap was created.  To hear about future courses, follow GGT on Twitter or Facebook.

A celebration of culture

by Nadiyaa Jaffer, Gloucester Services Farmshop

“I started working a Gloucester Services in July 2014 in the Farmshop alongside my studies and recently graduated with a First-Class Honours in Textile Design for Fashion and Interiors from Bath University.  I was shortlisted for the ‘Sanderson Award 2021’ and my textile designs have been sold in Japan, Australia, LA, China, and Germany.

My current collection, which is my second public exhibition, at the Ewe Space was part of my collection for my final degree. Inspired by my Indian heritage, ‘Indian nights, a faraway land’ is a celebration of culture, colour, amazing food, and ornate dresses.  My Indian heritage has always been celebrated within my family on British soil, although my father’s village, Daman, is distant, it still feels like home. I created this collection based on the narrative I created of this exotic world.

My first step to creating a collection is based on what inspires me at the time and how I want to express this. For this collection, I experimented with using traditional Mughal painting techniques using gold watercolour, acrylic and Indian ink. Using photos of my family, exotic plants and exquisite dress details, I created Sketchbook after sketchbook of paintings, drawing and photography to give my collection a range of inspiration.

Creating drawings and patterns digitally also play an important part in my work. Photoshop and illustrator aid me in creating repeat patterns and textured prints full of depth and vibrant colour. I also love to share my artistic process on social media to allow people and aspiring artists an inside experience to how a collection and artwork is processed. I relished the opportunity to talk to people at the exhibition about my artwork as everyone seemed really interested in my prints! I always feel overjoyed when my art is appreciated, and I love talking about the creative process which is involved in creating a collection. 

I am also currently employed by G.A.S.P!  (Gloucestershire Arts and Social Projects) which is a new organisation created by Soozy Roberts and Hannah Thomson that has been developing in Matson and Gloucester. I work as a community Curating Assistant where I organise and set up exhibition spaces for a variety of artwork whilst working within communities to make art and creative experiences more accessible to people.

I have a few pieces of advice to aspiring artists and creatives: to always do what you love, no matter what setbacks you have. I would also say its normal to make ‘mistakes’ as this is part of the learning process and don’t let this set you back to pursuing in your career, and always jump to opportunities without the ‘what if’ mindset.

I would love to see my artwork sold in shops which has always been a dream of mine! I am currently taking commissions and will soon be setting up an Etsy shop where I will be selling my prints and artwork. I have always wanted to create large murals which I am hoping to achieve in the near future!”