The GREAT Project launches their #BehindEveryGREATMan campaign


The Getting Ready for Employment and Training (GREAT) Project is a Leicester-based project, designed to help individuals who are part of families and not currently working, move towards employment or training. Through a variety of sessions delivered by partners and Employment Coordinators, participants are given personalised support to overcome any barriers they face. The project is launching their ‘Behind Every GREAT Man…’ campaign in a bid to sign up more men.

The ‘Behind Every GREAT Man…’ campaign is an extension of the GREAT Project’s ‘GREAT men get things done’ initiative. The campaign is geared towards all men that are part of a family and asks the question ‘what does employment mean to you?’ By asking this question, the project hopes to start a conversation that encourages individuals to identify why they want to find work, and inspire them to join the project. The campaign promotes inclusivity, showing the diversity of the participants with whom the project works and addressing their individual needs.

Previously, one third of all participants were male, but with the number of male sign-ups declining, the number of men on the project now only accounts for one quarter of all participants. The project is keen to engage with more males, understand what has prevented them from previously seeking support, and encourage those who are facing barriers to work to contact them.

To date, the GREAT Project has received a total of 1,308 referrals; only 348 of those have been male. Out of this number, 123 males signed up to the project and 38 of these completed the project with an outcome; either work, further training or job search.

There are two key messages the GREAT Project wants individuals to take away from this campaign. First, the project wants to encourage participants to believe in themselves and their own abilities to overcome the barriers they face. Secondly, in a bid to combat the stigma around asking for help, the project’s philosophy is ‘doing it yourself doesn’t mean doing it alone’. One of their key objectives for this campaign is to let people know that it’s okay to ask for help.

Vandna Gohil, Executive Project Manager for the GREAT Project, said:

“We know men tend to shy away from accessing support that’s available to them for many reasons. Quite often it’s because they don’t want to admit there’s a problem, or they feel they will face judgement or stigma because they asked for help.

We want individuals to know that this isn’t the case and that help is out there. We’re here to offer support and guidance to help them become the person they want to be.”


Simon Gambardella (pictured) had ongoing health issues and became unemployed as a result of this. He began to suffer from depression and anxiety, which led his GP to inform him of the GREAT Project. Simon decided to self-refer, and his attendance and commitment to the project was exceptional. He accessed a variety of courses and sessions whilst on the project, and it helped him overcome his barriers. Simon also found that he was not alone, with many other people facing similar barriers to him. Through the GREAT Project, Simon found a full time role that he enjoys and feels he can excel in.

The project takes both self-referrals and organisational referrals, and encourages those that have barriers to work and need support to contact them. Individuals can self-refer by texting GREAT and their name to 66777 or by calling 0116 257 5020. Organisations are free to contact the project by calling the same number. For more information, please visit:

The GREAT Project is a partnership of multiple organisations and is delivered by Voluntary Action LeicesterShire, a charity dedicated to helping change lives for the better in local communities. The GREAT Project is funded by the European Social Fund and The National Lottery Community Fund.

GREAT Participant moves into employment

Nickolette was a single mum of a young child when she met the GREAT Project at Leicester’s Caribbean Carnival. She had severe anxiety disorder and felt like she was in a hole she couldn’t get out of. She spoke with the team about all the support the GREAT Project could offer, and decided to self-refer.

“I had severe anxiety disorder and I couldn’t function properly. I just felt like everything was passing me by.”

Yachna was appointed Nickolette’s Employment Support Officer (ESO), and they soon met to discuss all the barriers Nickolette was facing. When meeting with Yachna, Nickolette explained that she’d tried a lot of methods and tactics herself, but as they hadn’t worked before, she had reservations about whether they would work this time. Yachna devised a support plan specific to Nickolette’s needs, and she soon began taking part in the variety of activities the project offers.

Nickolette attended work club, where she received support around applying for jobs, including writing her CV and personal statement. She also accessed the project’s in-house workshops and took part in the interview skills session. One of the things that really benefitted Nickolette, was the three-day confidence building course. Here, she was encouraged to work with other participants in an attempt to complete a variety of tasks.

Nickolette’s time with the project came to an end when she successfully completed a work placement at a popular UK retailer and secured a job there when she finished her placement.

Nickolette said:

“The project helped me so much and gave me so many opportunities. Everything I did was fun and I was never forced to do anything. Everything was my choice, but I just had support to do it. I’m not burying my head in the sand anymore; I’m an active member of my community instead of letting life pass me by.”

Yachna said:

“Nickolette has come a long way from when I first met her. She suffered with anxiety and now she enjoys getting up every day to go to work. I’m so glad we’ve been able to help and wish her all the best for the future.”

Watch Nickolette’s story here.

The GREAT Project helps a paticipant think outside the box

At the time of joining the GREAT Project, Shannon didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life or what career path she wanted to take, and she just wasn’t sure what options were out there for her.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life, and this made me feel trapped. Because I didn’t have any passions, I just felt lost and fed-up.”

Shannon first came into contact with the GREAT Project at Coalville JobCentre, when a project sign-up day was held there. After talking to staff about the project and all it can offer, Shannon decided to refer herself. Diana was appointed Shannon’s Employment Support Officer (ESO), and the pair soon met to talk about what barriers Shannon was facing. This helped Diana devise a support plan tailored to Shannon’s needs.

Once on the project, Shannon started off by attending work club sessions, delivered by Leicestershire County Council. Here, Shannon worked on writing her CV and cover letter, as well as learning the skills she needed to be able to search for a job independently. Shannon also benefitted from attending two of the project’s in-house workshops; interview skills and return to work. Both of which are geared towards giving participants the skills they need to succeed in securing and starting a new job. Shannon also went on a work placement at a leading UK supermarket before completing her time on the project.

Speaking of her time on the project, Shannon said:

“The GREAT Project helped me believe in myself and helped me find new passions I never thought would have been for me. They opened my eyes to new opportunities and encouraged me to try things that might not always be my first choice, because sometimes you find that it actually is an interest to you. I can’t recommend it enough.”

Diana said:

“The transformation I have seen in Shannon is amazing. She’s gone from feeling lost to enjoying a new career she never thought she’d enjoy. I’m so happy we were able to support Shannon and she has a career she likes.”

Shannon has now completed her time with the GREAT Project, and found employment as a cleaner for an emergency services depot.

A GREAT Project participant starts their dream career

Eleni came into contact with the GREAT Project when her aunt told her about what the project does. Her aunt was at Loughborough Jobcentre when she discovered the GREAT Project, and she thought Eleni would benefit from signing up. When Eleni agreed, it was her aunt that referred her.

“I felt I had to do something because my anxiety was getting worse and I knew I needed to find my way.”

Diana was appointed as Eleni’s Employment Support Officer (ESO) at the beginning of her time with the project. But when Diana went to meet with Eleni for the first time, it was Eleni’s aunt that came. Unfortunately, as Eleni suffered so much with her anxiety, she felt too nervous to meet with Diana herself so she sent her aunt. Over time, Diana was able to build a bond with Eleni, which meant they could work together to create a support plan tailored to Eleni’s needs.

Eleni told Diana that she wanted to become more confident and be able to communicate with others, so she could fulfil her dream of owning her own hair salon. Diana recommended various activities for Eleni to take part in, including work club and in-house workshops. Whilst at work club, Eleni was able to work on her CV, as well as her personal statement and cover letter. She then took part in multiple in-house workshops, including budgeting, interview techniques and managing return to work. Accessing all these sessions encouraged Eleni to communicate with others and slowly she began to feel more comfortable.

Eleni’s biggest turning point came from the confidence building course she went on. This course runs for three consecutive days, and encourages participants to communicate and work together in order to finish activities. It really helps to break down barriers and allows participants the chance to bond with others.

Another one of the activities Eleni accessed was a behind the scenes tour organised by delivery partner, Business in the Community. Eleni found this helpful as it gave her the opportunity to talk to employers and see what being in a working environment felt like.

Speaking of her time on the project, Eleni said:

“I really enjoyed my time with the project. It gave me the confidence I needed and I felt safe talking with, and meeting, new people. I don’t feel lost anymore and I’m leaving the project doing what I’ve always wanted to do.”

Diana said:

“Eleni has come so far, I barely recognise her. She was so shy at the start that it wasn’t even her I met with, and now she’s a confident young woman. Her drive and focus whilst on the project was outstanding – she was so engaged ALL the time. I’m so proud of all she’s achieved and wish her all the best for the very bright future she has ahead of her.”

Eleni completed her time with the project and recently began an apprenticeship at a Loughborough-based hair salon.