A Shared Love of Jewellery Key to Unlocking Options for Gemma

Struggling with severe symptoms of agoraphobia, Gemma lacked confidence, was non-verbal and highly anxious about communicating, to the point where she could not leave her own home without the company of her friend. Eighteen months later, and with the help of WISE Ability’s Work Programme, Gemma is now able to travel to and from her appointments and engage in her community independently. Gemma can now confidently engage in conversation in a relaxed manner with her friends and staff, and credits this change to the dedication of her WISE Ability Case Managers, Trudi and Chris.

At Gemma’s first meeting with WISE, she was uncommunicative and avoided eye contact with Trudi. Despite the presence of Gemma’s communication partner to translate her non-verbal cues, Trudi found it difficult to understand and embed Gemma’s goals into an employment plan.

This all changed after a few sessions when Gemma observed a range of homemade jewellery which Trudi had created. Gemma began to make eye contact and engage with Trudi, who used this as a springboard to engage Gemma in jewellery making sessions. The calming environment and concentrated focus of making jewellery led to Gemma being able to relax and over time, talk openly about her personal circumstances. Gemma began sharing information about her interests and skills in a supported environment which helped create a sense of purpose for Gemma and contributed to her self-confidence.

Following regular engagements with Trudi, Gemma was introduced to Case Manager Chris, who helped her complete a short small business and self-employment course, which led to Gemma creating a viable business plan for making and selling handmade crafts. Trudi and Chris have also helped Gemma tackle her fear of leaving home and being in the community independently, using continuous encouragement and coaching alongside gradual exposure to new environments.

Gemma’s participation in the Work Programme has truly helped change her life on many levels. “Trudi and Chris have made me feel like I can do anything I want to. I am so much more positive now and feel like I have more options open to me than I thought. Since being here at WISE, I see the light at the end of the tunnel and really feel I can get back to work or start my own business from home”.