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GEMS offices are now open to our clients and visitors. We have made some changes which are necessary to keep everyone as safe as possible, to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and protect our health service.

Checking your temperature

When you arrive at our reception, we will ask that we check your temperature. Please note we use a body temperature scan and will not need to touch you when checking your temperature.

Why do we ask to take your temperature?

This is because Fever (a raised temperature) is a common symptom of COVID-19, affecting more than two thirds of people with the disease. Current health guidelines advise that anyone with a temperature of 37.8°C or more should be considered to be potentially infected with COVID-19 and should self-isolate.

If your temperature is 37.8°C or more, we will advise you to arrange a Covid-19 test as soon as possible – please remember you may be positive for Covid-19 and not have any other symptoms.

We will ask you to wear a face covering when in GEMS offices.

All our staff, clients and visitors are asked to wear a face covering when in our offices. If you do not have a face covering, we will provide you with a disposable mask.

Use the hand sanitiser provided

We have hand sanitiser at reception and throughout our offices, please use this.

Meeting your Mentor

The meeting area, table and other surfaces will be cleaned before your meeting with your mentor and when your meeting is finished, it will be cleaned before it is used again. This is to protect you, your mentor and to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Our meeting areas have Perspex screens and once you are seated you can remove your face covering. Please remember to put your face covering back on when moving around in our offices and leaving.

These are the simple things we can all do to ensure our personal safety and the safety of others.

We are here to help you with careers information, advice and guidance, CV Development, Job Search, Application Forms, Interview Practice and access to training, skills and qualifications and much more! We can also help you improve your English language for the workplace and assist you with the Northern Ireland recruitment process and lots more.

GEMS is here to help

Call in, Call us or send us a text or email

Call in to our offices 24-31 Shaftesbury Square you can make an appointment and we might even be able to see you right away.

Call us at our office 028 9033 2313

You can send us a text on 07936 807 232 leave us a message with your name and number and we will get back to you as soon as possible

Email us remember to leave your name and contact number and we will get back to you as soon as possible

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Investors in People Gold Logo
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Thrive at Work Logo

We gratefully acknowledge funding support for our CO-MENT project from:

Employment East Logo
Employment East Logo
Employment East Logo

Small Organisation, Big Results


Welcome to our website. Here you will find information about us, our history and the programmes and services we deliver. We hope you enjoy your visit. Please get in touch with us if you would like more information about what we do and how we can help you.

Everyone has potential, some people just need a little extra help to recognise theirs

AltTextAbout GEMS

Our story is, quite simply about linking opportunity with need and one which is founded in the vision and leadership of Belfast City Council. In 1998 the Council commissioned a study which looked at the Belfast Gasworks regeneration programme and how this could bring employment opportunities to the people living in the communities and neighbourhoods contiguous to the Gasworks site.

The ‘Gasworks Employment Matching Service’, which became the Belfast GEMS Project, was driven by a partnership-led approach to augmenting the then mainstream employability/employment initiatives. The over-arching aim was to enhance social inclusion and improve the local skills base and maximise the employment opportunities for people living in the Gasworks and Laganside areas. The Belfast GEMS project, supported through funding from Belfast City Council, Laganside Corporation, the Department for Employment and Learning, Belfast Regeneration Office, Halifax plc who, with East Belfast and South Belfast Partnerships established the Belfast GEMS Advisory Forum. Belfast GEMS went ‘live’ as project of South Belfast Partnership, on 15th January 2002, as a pilot project with initial funding support for 27 months.

Together Everyone Achieves More

AltTextOur People

We currently have a small Board Chaired by Cliff Kennedy MBE, an experienced third sector leader, that works together to ensure the organisation meets its corporate governance accountabilities, supports our strategic direction, provides guidance to the Chief Executive and Senior Management Team and acts as ambassadors for GEMS NI and our values, ethics and practice principles.

Chief Executive and Senior Team

  • Susan Russam MBE
    Chief Executive
  • Anne Downs
    Director of Employment Services
  • Stephen Atkinson
    Director of Operations
  • Francesca Murray
    Director of Corporate Services

Susan has led GEMS NI since it started as a project of South Belfast Partnership in 2001, leading its incorporation as a company limited by guarantee/registered charity in 2006. Susan has designed many projects and programmes over the past seventeen years including CO-MENT and its European “cousin,” EC-YP

Email Susan

Shane has been with GEMS NI since its launch in January 2002 and has led many GEMS projects including LEMIS, M-Power and Learning Language for Work Shane also established GEMS Enterprises and has been responsible for the development of our Social Enterprise arm. Shane is currently seconded to Oxford Innovation as the Innovation Factory Community Engagement Manager, leading initiatives to ensure community stakeholders benefit from the Innovation Factory.

Email Shane

Anne has been with GEMS NI since its launch in January 2002 and has led our employer engagement strategy, marketing and events management and other activities. Anne currently leads our CO-MENT project, Community Family Support Project and many Erasmus+ projects GEMS NI has led/been part of over the years.

Email Anne

Francesca has been with GEMS NI from 2003 and has managed our finances, HR and central administration since 2006. Francesca is also GEMS NI Lead ISO Auditor and has responsibility for purchasing, health and safety and managing project budget and spend across the organisation.

Email Francesca

Stephen has been with us since, 2004 initially as an Employability Outreach Mentor, LEMIS Team Leader and our Client Services Manager, ensuring GEMS NI makes best use of its programmes and services through effective communication and sharing of good practice across the organisation. Stephen is currently Project Manager for EmployAbility South and has been instrumental in the project exceeding its targets.

Email Stephen

“Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort” - John Ruskin

AltTextOur Programmes and Services

All our programmes and services are aligned to our organisational objectives of supporting unemployed people with high-quality, impartial one-to-one guidance/mentoring, personal development and vocational skills training and qualifications and access to job opportunities leading to sustainable employment.


CoMent Logo

CO-MENT is GEMS NI’s innovative approach to supporting young people who are NEET and who do not cope in mainstream vocational education and training/Further Education settings. CO-MENT quite simply wraps its support around the unique needs and aspirations of the young person and helps them to be the driver of their own employability pathway across 4 integrated “zones” Learning, Life, Leisure and Work. GEMS NI works with partner organisations providing support to young people aged 16-24 supporting to positive destinations in education, training, employment and volunteering.

CO-MENT was designed in 2010 by us and was funded 2012-15 by the Department for Employment and Learning Collaboration and Innovation Fund and from 2015 – 2018 by the European Social Fund, Department for the Economy and Lisburn Castlereagh Council.

CO-MENT is currently funded (2018- 2022) by the European Social Fund, Department for the Economy and Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council and we are currently seeking additional public match funding to support the project.

Employment East Logo
Employment East Logo
Employment East Logo

Employment East

Employment East Logo

GEMS NI is the project manager for the delivery of the Employment East Programme. Employment East is for unemployed, underemployed people living in specific postcode areas in East Belfast.

Employment East is funded by the Executive Office via the Social Investment Fund and can help eligible participants with a wide range of employment and training support including:

  • Mentoring and career guidance support to develop employment and training options and help improve confidence and motivation
  • Access to our Flexible Training Fund to help get the skills and qualifications needed for employment and our Upskill Fund to help people who are working to get qualifications that help them progress in their careers
  • A 26 week paid job opportunity with a host employer; Employment East can help a person gain marketable skills and experience through a 26 week paid job with a host employer in a work area that they are interested in and with prospects of longer term employment.
  • Fast-Track to employment through our employer-led skills bundles; an intensive programme that help a person gain skills and qualifications and a guaranteed interview on completion. Skills bundles are available in Security Jobs, Manufacturing, Leisure Industry and Childcare
  • Self-Employment Programme that can help a person develop their business idea with support to start their own business including opportunities for a £1500 Employment East Bursary award.

For Further information email Stephen Atkinson

LEMIS+ Project

GEMS Northern Ireland Logo

LEMIS+ is funded by the European Social Fund, Department for the Economy and Belfast City Council; LEMIS+ is delivered by a city-wide consortium led by Ashton Community Trust in partnership with GEMS NI, Upper Springfield Development Trust, Impact Training and East Belfast Mission. LEMIS+ provides one-to-one mentoring, personal development, ICT skills and vocational training and employer-led training programmes and Academies and job matching services. GEMS NI Manages LEMIS+ in South Belfast and also provides specific support for participants who are non-native speakers of English through our culturally-competent careers information, education, advice and guidance service.

Community Family Support Programme (CFSP)

GEMS Northern Ireland Logo

Funded by ESF and the Department for the Economy, and led by Upper Springfield Development Trust with partners GEMS NI, Impact Training, East Belfast Mission and Ashton Community Trust, CFSP works with families with a young person who is NEET or at risk of becoming NEET on leaving statutory education.

CFSP offers a range of supports to families and individual family members including, healthy eating, keeping fit, stress management and money management and support to move from benefit dependence to sustainable employment.

GEMS NI manages the Community Family Support Project in South Belfast.

EmployAbility South

EmployAbility South Logo

Funded by the Executive Office through the Social Investment fund, EmployAbility South provides access to training, development and vocational qualifications and the opportunity for a 13-week paid job with a host employer.

The EmployAbility South project finished 31 March 2018. We are confident that the EmployAbility South model will have a future! This is because it has proven that really works to connect people to jobs and jobs to people. If you would like further information on EmployAbilty South contact Stephen Atkinson (link to Stephen’s email here)

“There is enough dough in the world to make bread for all of us to eat together” – Habeeb Akande

AltTextEuropean Connections

GEMS NI have been actively participating in and leading European Projects; initially, Leonardo da Vinci partnerships and Transfer of Innovation projects and since 2014 the Erasmus+ Programme. The following are examples of the projects we have been involved in.


DayPlot Logo

DAY-PLOT DayPlot is led by Antares/Eulab Italy and has partners in Northern Ireland (GEMS NI) Spain, Norway, Finland and Austria The aim of the project is to use gamification to develop support materials for teachers/tutors working with NEET young people/young migrants. Partners are currently designing the storyboard for a game involving a young alien who has travelled to earth and needs help to navigate their way through education, employment, citizenship and Europe


DayPlot Logo

Project SUDEGO led by Antares Italy with partners in Northern Ireland, Spain, Bulgaria, Finland and Italy. In brief, SUDEGO will analyse in detail 5 of the 17 European Sustainable Development Goals and develop training materials for schools that support the curriculum in relation to the promotion of sustainable development.

LEI (Language, Environment, Inclusion)

Network QA Logo

A lei is the flower garland that it is customary for visitors to Hawaii to receive as a gesture of welcome on their arrival.

With partners from Italy, Germany, Northern Ireland, Spain and Portugal, The LEI project aims to improve how marginalised young people, specifically refugees and asylum-seekers, young people at risk of early school leaving and students who experience disadvantage, are welcomed in the school institutions.


EC-YP Logo

EC-YP Led by GEMS NI with partners in Ireland, Austria, Italy and UK, EC-YP (Extended Choices for Young People in Vocational Education and Training) took the GEMS NI CO-MENT model and transferred it Europe including a 12 month pilot training project.

The EC-YP project completed December 2017


Network QA Logo

NQCA Led by Ballymun Job Centre, Networking for Quality Culture and Quality Assurance worked with partners in N Ireland, Italy, Germany, UK, Hungary and Finland to develop models to improve how organisations network resulting in the development of a quality culture. GEMS NI was able to use the EmployAbility South Project as a live model which captured SROI directly linked to networking to achieve a quality culture and quality assured outputs for learners.

The NQCA project completed January 2018

“The celebration… you cannot practice it or anything. It’s a moment when the excitement of your goal makes you react to the moment”
Peter Bondra

AltTextEvents and Celebrations

Sometimes we are so busy, we forget to stop and the time to celebrate the success of the people we work with, our partners, our staff and our organisation – we simply move on to the next task or the next project. In putting our new website together, we have added a corner for events and celebrations, a place for our staff, our partners and the people we work with to add small articles and posts about the things we do together.

“Greatness can be contagious, but first there must be contact” TemitOpe Ibrahim

AltTextGet in touch

We really want to hear from you! If you want to find out about the services we offer, specific programmes and projects we manage, or want us to be a partner in a new project leave us a message with your name and contact email and contact number and some information about your enquiry hit the submit button and we will get back to you.

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GEMS Northern Ireland, 24-31 Shaftesbury Square, Belfast, BT2 7DB, Tel: 028 9033 2313