The Team

Inclusive Employability Manager - Nasrin Atcha-Patel

I am the Inclusive Employment Manager for the Forwards Employment Team at Gloucestershire County Council.  My responsibility is to coach mentor and encourage the team who work with a diverse range of people with a broad range of needs and challenges to achieve their employment aspirations and sustain work. 

Having previously worked in Adult Education in Gloucestershire, as a qualified tutor, careers adviser and a learning coordinator, I have many years of experience of working with diverse communities, working through building partnerships with variety of organisations in order to achieve our shared goals.

I’m very motivated to help individuals no matter their background to reach their full potential.

My childhood ambition was to be a Nurse mainly to help people, but I also loved the cap and cape they would wear…. yes I’m that old!

 


Strategic Employment Manager - Nicola Fellows

As Strategic Employment Manager I am responsible for maintaining and encouraging teams that promote independence and encourage individuals to achieve their employment aspirations.  This includes responsibility for the performance, quality of work and effective deployment of resources across the Employer Engagement team as well as the management of resources allocated to the supported employment programme within GIS Healthcare Supported Business, providing support for a diverse range of employees with a broad range of needs and challenges. 

I have many years’ experience in supported employment previously in the Employment Development Manager role at GIS Healthcare and, prior to that, I managed the supported business in Worcestershire following ten years in Human Resources Advisor roles which was a good grounding for interpreting local authority policies and procedures.  I really enjoy working in supported employment which is rewarding, challenging at times and I can always expect the unexpected.

My childhood ambition was to become a Vet or Journalist, both of which I thought would be very glamorous careers!

 


Assistant Manager - Kirsten Smart

I am the Assistant Manager for the Forwards Employment Team, supporting the team to assist individuals towards their employment goals. Before this, I was the employment support co-ordinator, meeting with new referrals to the employment team and completing initial assessments. I promote the Forwards Employment Service at events where I network with organisations so we can work in partnership to help those with disabilities gain employment.

I have worked for GCC for 11 years, firstly working in a day centre for adults with learning disabilities and then I moved to the Enablement Team. Prior to working at Gloucestershire County Council I worked for a variety of care organisations.

When I was a child I wanted to be an RSPCA inspector.

 

 


Strategic Employment Support - Andy RudgeAn image of Andy

My role has three main areas: completing the Kickstart programme, where I will continue to track progress, monitor financial reports, and deliver employability training to participants; I will ensure compliance on GEM activities and claims across the county as the scheme comes to a close later this year and will lead on Employer Engagement for Forwards, developing relationships to enhance employment prospects for our customers.

I moved into my role from co-ordinating the Kickstart programme for GCC, and prior to that was an area Job Broker in the Forwards team.

Originally from London, I worked in sales and sales management, winning a national public speaking award before training in NLP. I later became a professional speaker and trainer in sales, business networking, presenting, and advanced communication skills, and delivered courses in the UK, Ireland, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Dubai.

I had a childhood ambition of being a Veterinary Surgeon after reading James Herriot’s books.

 


Employment and Skills Hub Broker - Michaela ElliottAn image of Micheala

Previously I hoped to build upon my experiences as a Navigator/Developer and could not wait to see what the next chapter in life brings. The next chapter began on October 1st 2021 in my new role as Job Broker for the new Gloucestershire Employment and Skills Hub. The hub will bring together established Gloucestershire County Council employment, skills and apprenticeship services with referrals offered by GFirst LEP skills and careers teams. This will provide a “front door” to information, guidance and practical support through a triage process that I will complete. This support is for anyone in Gloucestershire of any age and from any background wanting help to find work, an apprenticeship or careers advice. 

 


Employment and Skills Hub Broker - Tom Mayo

After 2 years supporting people through the job centre, the opportunity to join the Employment & Skills Hub was too good an opportunity to turn down…

Being able to offer residents of Gloucestershire a tailormade and practical support package, before and even after they enter employment to ensure they succeed makes perfect sense. Alongside my colleagues we work together to transform people’s lives and at the heart of it is our Hub.

We can help break down barriers and signpost to the most suitable avenues of support due to the connections we are constantly building with the local community and job market. We’re able to evolve quickly to the ever-changing needs of our customers and help with information and guidance for anyone wanting to help find work, an apprenticeship or careers advice.

My childhood ambition was to become either a footballer or a DJ... I still play football, just not for Newcastle United as I had hoped.


Job Broker (Stroud and Tewkesbury) - Darin Springate An image of Darin

My aim as community job broker is to support people with disabilities and additional needs to secure paid employment and access any training they might need to help them to achieve this. I am committed to helping people to be able to achieve economic independence and realise their potential regardless of their disability.

In my retention role I provide support to customers and their employers to overcome barriers that may prevent the customer from continuing to work.

I have worked within adult and children services working with people with additional needs and I started out my working life in the landscape gardening and tree surgery.

When I was a child I wanted to be a comic strip artist.

 


Job Broker (Works for Me) - Chidi IsaacImage of Chidi

My role as Job Broker (WFM) is to provide support to young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) as part of the Works For Me programme.  I help to raise young people’s aspirations of employment through vocational profiling and identifying suitable job roles. I provide support that leads to sustainable employment outcomes by developing tangible and sustainable partnerships with placement providers. I am passionate about helping young people with a range of barriers to employment to achieve their goals.

Before I came into this role, I was the Job Broker for Forwards Employment Team covering Cheltenham and North Cotswold of Gloucestershire.

I have experience of working and supporting people with learning disabilities. Before then, I worked in an organisation helping people to recover from various addictions. I have also worked in coaching and counselling roles.

In my early years, I had the dream of being a Petroleum Engineer.

 


Job Broker (Gloucester and Forest of Dean) - Shipon Ali

My name is Shipon, I am the Job Broker covering the Gloucester & Forest of Dean area. As a Job Broker my role involves supporting customers to secure and sustain paid employment. 

I started in January 2022. Prior to my current role, I was working at the Adult Helpdesk within GCC. I have experience of working with people with Learning Disabilities and find this rewarding.

When I was a child, I wanted to become a Football Club Manager.

 


Job Broker (GO Forwards) - Nicola  Hughes  

Having recently joined the Forwards Employment Team at the Employment and Skills Hub, from a Supported Business at GIS Healthcare in September 2021. My role as Job Broker (GO Forwards) will continue to support the ‘supported employees’ at GIS Healthcare with monthly Action Plans and supporting any ambitions to move into sustainable employment.

 In addition to the Action Plans, I coordinate the recruitment process and support candidates into the GO FORWARDS, placements ‘Growth and Opportunity’ – a paid trainee placement within a supportive working environment.  A setting where you are able to gain work experience, learn new skills and grow in confidence, with support from an experienced team.  GO Forwards is a stepping stone into the working environment with the aim to secure long term, sustainable employment. This is supported by Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) funding and has an eligibility criterion.

My role is varied and I support, mentor and encourage individuals to aspire to find sustainable work and help them to step into the ‘world of work’, providing motivation, independence and helping individuals feeling valued in the work they do. The work can be challenging, but so rewarding and biggest challenges always reaping the biggest rewards!

 


Employer Engagement Officer - Jon BowlesAn image of Jon

My goal in the role of Job Broker is to build relationships in engaging with employers across the county to source employment opportunities for people with disabilities, while at the same time supporting the initiation of schemes for people to fulfil their job aspirations that will encourage job retention.

I have a professional and friendly approach, using my wealth of experiences of working in human resources and coaching roles, to build collaborative relationships with organisations and people having a ‘can do’ attitude.  I have personal experience of living with a disability which enhances understanding and empathy to both employers and individuals, to create opportunities and meet business objectives.

When I was a child, I wanted to be a car mechanic

 


Employer Engagement Officer - Alice MartinAn image of Alice

My goal is to connect with employers across the county, building relationships, in order to create opportunities for disabled people. I am enthusiastic about helping disabled people to realise their aspirations and have the opportunity to fulfil their potential in employment. 

I am a member of Carers Gloucestershire. I have practical experience in working with disabled people. During my previous working life I have held positions in IT as a Software Developer and as a Technical Support Engineer.


Supported Internship Coordinator - Dan Furmage An image of Dan

My role as the Supported Internship Coordinator is based around working closely with Colleges, Post 16 Provisions and of course young people who are involved with the Gloucestershire Supported Internship Programme AIM.  AIM or the Assisted Internship Model, is way of helping young people with a disability or boundary to employment take their first steps towards a paid job. A Supported Internship, offers young people the opportunity to gain practical working experience and improve their prospects of being offered paid employment - my job is all about making sure young people get the best experience they can to take that step towards employment through a Supported/Assisted Internship.

I’ve been working in Gloucestershire County Council a long time; I previously worked as a Education Link Advisor within Forwards, working with Schools and Colleges to help students with a disability to learn about employment, and before that I worked in the Enablement Team. My role in the Enablement Team was all about making people more independent in the community and in their homes and finding ways for people to be more independent.

When I was a child, I wanted to be a cartoonist. I spent a lot of my time, drawing, colouring and creating stories. I loved reading comics, watching cartoons and using my imagination. I’m still quite creative, but now it’s more music than art. I’ve been in bands until recently and love writing songs and recording - kind of similar really.

 


Community Pathway Adviser - Annaleigh HurleyAn image of Anna-Leigh

My role is to provide support to young people who are in education and need support to gain employability skills, this can be through volunteering or work experience. The young person’s journey is bespoke to meet their needs. I will work with the young person to create an action plan and discuss any other forms of support they may need to help them with their next steps. Working with other professionals engaged in supporting young people with EHCPs I will promote options for the young people based upon the four transition pathways: employment, education, community, and social & health.

 

 


Navigator Developer: Carers - Wendy Firkin

As GEM Navigator Developer I work 1:2:1 with individuals facing barriers to employment, especially over 50s, veterans, and carers. I work side by side with the person to fully support and guide them in order to reach their goals, whether it is volunteering, paid employment, setting up their own business, or education and training. By working together we build resilience, help develop confidence and motivation, and bring some stability and achievements in their lives.

I have had a varied career, including working in TV, working with early stage businesses, 10 years working in higher education, and more recently 6 years working with adults with learning difficulties. Being slightly older, I feel I have a lot to offer others who are struggling to find a direction in their lives and enjoy nothing better than helping them achieve their ambitions.

When I was young, I wanted to be a singing geologist.

 


Navigator Developer GEM - Bryony Steel

Hi, I’m Bryony. As a Navigator Developer with the GEM project, my goal is to offer support to individuals in Gloucestershire who find themselves facing circumstances that are holding them back from achieving work, education or training.

My main area of focus is to support people who live with disabilities or long-term health conditions. Together, we develop a unique, personalised action plan that works towards breaking down the barriers they face, moving them closer to their employment goals – whether that is finding work, gaining confidence, help with job searches, applications and CV's, skill boosting voluntary placements, or just by having someone by their side for the journey.

As a former GEM participant myself, being able to come full circle and provide this support to others is a huge privilege for me and allows me a unique perspective on both sides of the partnership.I joined the Forwards team in March 2022 following a year of working on the Adult Social Care Helpdesk for GCC. Prior to this I was managing a Salvation Army retail store, alongside my army of wonderful volunteers, who it was my pleasure to help train and support. This role was as a direct result of the support I received from the GEM project in 2019.

When I was a child, I wanted to be Radio City Rockette

 


Team Administrator - Ines Higgins

As the team administrator, I currently support the team with administrative duties in all our initiatives, while at the same time completing a level 3 business administration apprenticeship to upskill.

Key responsibilities include talking to our customers who are employed long-term to make sure they have all the support they need in work, taking minutes for various meetings, creating and updating spreadsheets and just helping wherever I can.

I have worked for GCC for more than two years now and have been enjoying the challenge, even through this difficult last year.

When I was a child, I wanted to be a massage therapist, author and mother – pretty ambitious!

 

 

 

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