God Unlimited Outdoor Therapy or Gul, is a registered charity providing therapeutic activities in an outdoor setting. Gul’s primary provision is Equine Assisted Therapy (using horses and associated activities to improve well-being) but also includes outdoor education, navigation, work placements, apprenticeships, gardening and more.
The charity was founded in 2003 by a small church community, putting into practice what they had always believed, that being outside is good for a person and that, with vision and support, Gul can change the lives of individuals who are isolated and vulnerable. While the charity was founded by passionate Christians and named as such, Gul has always been open to all, regardless of faith or background
We met with 18-year-old Lauren at their Riverside Centre, near Shrewton. Lauren is undertaking a level 2 Equine apprenticeship
Lauren can you tell us about your journey so far regarding apprenticeships?
I am the first apprentice that Gul have employed. When I left college, I visited Gul to enquire about an apprenticeship as I thought this would be a good opportunity for me. It was something Gul were considering but were not ready to employ anyone at that time. I began volunteering 3 days a week, which lead to a work placement lasting approximately 2 months this allowed me to develop my basic horse skills and confidence.
I started my apprenticeship in September 2017 and hope to complete in a few months’ time. During this time, I have had to do additional English and Maths to ensure I am able to complete the learning. At times, I have found it difficult to manage work and learning but the staff at Gul have been very supportive and given me the time to do what is needed.
I’m fortunate that my assessor from Wiltshire College attends the site so there is no need to travel to Lackham for classes.
Did you always know you wanted to take the apprenticeship route?
No, I didn’t, I went to college to study Health and Social Care at level 3, but got mixed up with the wrong people and eventually dropped out of college. A friend worked for Gul and recommended that I looked at volunteering with them.
Can you tell us about your day to day role?
A typical day can include getting the ponies ready and making sure any equipment is cleaned and ready for use. I also get involved with school fetes, open days and pony shows which helps to promote the work of Gul and raise funds to support the charity and its work.
At school, I had a number of friends with disabilities so I find engaging with customers that have varying needs quite easy and enjoyable.
A quality that Programme Director James Dwyer shared with us during our visit.
What would you say to others considering an apprenticeship?
I am really enjoying being an apprentice, I get to be more hands on and undertake more practical tasks, which I wouldn’t have got if I studied at college.