The GEM Project is an employability and social inclusion programme, helping people in Gloucestershire to overcome challenges to employment and move GEM ORANGE HRthem closer towards or into work.

It is a unique partnership of nearly 50 community based organisations, managed by Gloucestershire Gateway Trust on behalf of the lead organisation Gloucestershire County Council and is jointly funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and European Social Fund.

Individuals signed up to the GEM Project receive personalised one to one support from a Navigator Developer to help them achieve their career based goal, developing life skills, building confidence and self-esteem, whilst overcoming any barriers which prevented them from finding work previously.

The GEM Project has been operating since September 2016 and was initially due to end in December 2019. However, over the last three years, the project has continued to go from strength to strength, being recognised as an exemplar programme and has been awarded additional funding to run until the end of 2021.

For more information about the GEM Project visit


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SVP lunch

We are pleased to have recently secured funding for two new projects. Firstly from the Big Lottery Reaching Communities programme who are funding our project Building Sensory Gardens with Local Communities.

We will be working in partnership with a wide range of community organisations to support communities to build sensory gardens starting in Stratford Park and then further afield as the project develops over four years.

Volunteer Lunch, Sensory Garden September 2018 Photo : DeborahRoberts


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Fungi and stones at Capel’s Mill, Stroud

Quite a range of fungi has been found at this site this autumn. The woodchips which we bring and put around trees (as a mulch) seem to sprout all sorts of varieties, photographed here by our volunteer, Jean Chatelain.

Capels Mill 5







Capel’s Mill ‘Climate Cairn’

Building commenced this summer, of a communal dry-stone structure, involving as many people as possible, who are invited to bring a stone, a rock, or a pebble!

It will form a dry-stone dome with cavities at the base for toads and newts to hide in with wildflowers over the top. Each stone represents a step towards saving the biosphere, e.g.:

- An effective climate agreement at the UN climate conference in November 2021; 

- A district-wide ‘carbon neutral by 2030’ strategy;Capels Mill 4

- A national renewable energy supply;

- Carbon-zero housing​;

- Peat restoration​;

- Wildlife-friendly farming;

and many, many more steps that are essential.

The Climate Cairn aims to stimulate long-term planning to secure the future of life on the planet, through awareness of the Earth’s great age, and understanding of its processes that sustain us.Both the geology and prehistory of our landscape are relevant. Our local limestone and clay rocks are from the Jurassic age, 200 million years old, and the Neolithic barrows on the Cotswold hills are a mere 5,000 years old!

Thinking with ‘Deep Time’ in mind will help make long-term species-saving decisions.

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Woodworking for health and wellbeing

Greenhouse 1Greenhouse 2The Green Health Team has been working on a new project in partnership with The Beeches Day Care Centre, Beeches Green, Stroud. The centre, run by Gloucestershire County Council supports adults with physical and and mental disabilities.

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Slow worm 1Our contract work continues well with monthly visits to Rowcroft Medical Centre, Omnitrack at Rodborough Court, Tesco balancing pond (a site adjacent to Rackleaze Wetland) and our quarterly visits to The Apperley Centre, Stonehouse.

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Rackleaze Wetland, Cam

Since the last article in the newsletter Stroud Valleys Project and its regular Thursday volunteer group have been busy with habitat management work including the start of the annual comfrey ‘bash’ (cutting back) which was scythed (less messy than a brush-cutter), and the management of the newly planted hedgerow. This has suffered over the hot summer months and a number of plants have actually died which we will replace this coming autumn.

The volunteer group has also completely rebuilt the footbridge that crosses the ditch on site, a job which was achieved over two sessions to take down and build (see photos). We also hope to start giving the old boardwalk a wire brushing and wood preserve if weather will allow us!

Rackleaze 1ARackleaze 2ARackleaze 3A




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Planning the Planting at Sherbourne House Sherbourne House

In early February we began working with a group of students from Stroud College at Sherbourne House. We are creating a new fruit, flower and vegetable garden for the residents of this sheltered housing scheme in Stonehouse.

To begin with, students met the residents to ask them what kinds of things they would like to see growing in their new raised beds.

As a result of those conversations we have designed a planting plan - raised planters will sit on the patio where residents will be able to harvest strawberries and lettuces growing at waist height; sunflowers and runner beans will shoot up from the ground level beds; gooseberry and blackcurrant bushes will rub shoulders with existing ornamental plantings in the lawn area.

In short, we hope it will be a feast for all the senses!Greggs


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A Place to Be Ryeleaze

Ryeleaze School Corner Plot Garden

The Stroud and Cotswold Alternative Provision School, on the corner of Brickrow and Ryeleaze Road in central Stroud, have asked for a shelter. This will provide a seating place for pupils to chat and socialise. So we drew up a design, and have started the construction of a rustic wooden structure.

During the winter, the ash hedge was coppiced and currants planted. Loads of vegetables and salad will go in this spring, for use in the school’s cookery sessions.

S  C

You can see here the path and beds taking shape.







Raised beds

Ryeleaze is the upper school section of the Stroud and Cotswold Alternative Provision School, the students we are working with so far are 13 – 14 years old. The aim of the project is to create a gardening and outdoor social space. 

Since spring this year, Richard’s Thursday team have been building raised beds for vegetables, a woodchip path, decking and compost bays. The school is keeping the rough grass mown.

From May, with Fred, through the summer term, there were six fortnightly sessions with students, who got involved with planting, sowing, weeding, watering, harvesting, and construction. Runner bean plant supports were made with hazel poles, and natural pieces of wood were sawed, drilled, and screwed to posts, as a sculpture.

The school is proactive in harvesting the produce and using it within their cooking classes, with some very creative dishes being made, making links from garden to food.

The students have engaged with the activities for some of the time, but they have also enjoy chatting together. Time will be given to asking for their design ideas and choosing what to do.

The learning has involved gardening skills such as recognising weeds, and different types of plant and vegetable. Also, how to sow and plant; water and harvest, how to save seed, together with maintaining vegetable and fruit plants.

The future plans at this site are to engage the students in designing a seating area with a rain shelter, and using pallets to construct benches and a table. Future growing schemes include autumn vegetable sowing: broad beans, spinach, onion sets; and planting up a soft fruit area.

For more information, call Clare at SVP on 01453 753358.

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RRodborough common mapodborough Common is a Special Area of Conservation, supporting a wide diversity of species including rare insects and wild flowers.

The human population around Rodborough Common has grown which has caused the increase in number and width of footpaths that criss-cross it. This is causing concern about the loss of undisturbed grassland that provides habitat for skylarks and the numerous other species that thrive there.

This summer Stroud Valleys Project, working with National Trust, conducted a number of surveys of the Common in order to monitor the paths.

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Throughout the winter we have been going out with volunteers to a variety of sites around Stroud district carrying out a whole host of conservation tasks.

We have been back working with Cainscross Parish Council to improve Queen Elizabeth II Field for both people and wildlife. Some of the native daffodil bulbs that we planted back in 2016 have come up this year (they can take a couple of years until they flower for the first time) and we’ve been busy clearing an area to plant some more wildflower seeds. So if you ever pass the field keep an eye out for the flowers in the summer.

We have also been working at Arundel Mill Pond just along the towpath from Capel’s Mill. Some clearing has been done around the trees which we planted in 2015 and we have been rewarded with seeing their first leaves breaking bud and the blackthorn coming into blossom.

We will be planting more wild flower seeds here as well, so hopefully our bees and other pollinators will benefit. In the summer we are also planning to do some river clearance along the River Frome.

Other sites we have been working at include Bisley Old Road Cemetery, where we helped rake up the grass cuttings to benefit wildflowers; Rowcroft Medical Centre, where we helped to maintain their planted area; and also Buckholt Wood, where we built a beautiful dead hedge from all their coppiced wood.

If you are free on a Tuesday and would like to join us please get in touch with Tamsin on 01453 753358 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 Cainscross PC






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Stroud Valleys Project is a limited company,
registered in England and Wales

Registered number: 2224016    

Registered charity number: 900107


Stroud Valleys Project

8 Threadneedle Street




Tel: 01453 753358


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instagram@svpcharity / @svpecoshop