How I Got Back Into Work

We spoke to Gary, a resident & businessman in Gloucestershire, about how he found a sustainable way to earn money while looking after his own health and wellbeing. Watch the video and read the full interview below!

Let’s start with who you are and what you do!

OK, my name is Gary Melville and I live in the Forest of Dean. I moved up here from Kent a few years ago. My background was in business. I became seriously ill a few years back and since then with the help of Barnwood Trust and with medical help I’ve moved forward in my life. My aim is to go back to self-employment early next year and I will be looking at a specialist format of painting and decorating using very specialist spray application equipment.

So why painting and decorating?

I took up painting and decorating when I was 40 with the sole purpose of taking on a role to earn that allowed me the time off with my illness. I felt it would give me a greater flexibility, which overall it did.

Can you tell us about your recent qualifications?

Where I am at the moment is, I have just completed a level 3 NVQ in industrial painting. I’ve very luckily been in receipt of a grant from Barnwood Trust for specialist spray application machines and linked with the Gem Project – they have also given me a grant to cover the specialist training. That training will be complete by October. So, with the machinery and the training, and my own market research I am on plan to achieve my aim by February. Albeit, it is not written in stone.

What are you hopes for the future?

For the next few months I need to cover as many bases as I can to give me the best chance of making a success of the business. This time round I’ve looked at the earning aims differently to usual. I’ve looked at what I need to earn, not what I want to earn.  And they’re totally different. The most key factor to me is ensuring that what I do is sustainable. And I’ve got to really be aware of my well-being, which in my past I tended to ignore.

Can you tell us about how you first heard about the Barnwood Trust?

Initially, my introduction to Barnwood Trust was that I found them on the website. I went along to one of the workshops, which happened to be in Stroud, I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction with link-minded people and from there I learned about possible grants and – as I say – I’ve been in receipt of an Opportunities award grant, which for me (and others I’m sure) is so important in enabling me to work forward and put some more positive things back in my life.

What has becoming more independent meant for you?

At the end of the day – something that I’ve been lacking in, for the last 3 ½ years is my self-worth. For me, I was brought up in an environment where work was expected of you – I’m not saying that’s right, but that’s how I was brought up. Getting into a position where I’m able to support myself means the world to me. It means I have my independence and I have my own choices, which at the moment, I don’t really have.

Can you tell us a little bit about your equipment?

Of course! Ultimately in painting and decorating, historically and still now, painters and decorators use a roller and they use a paintbrush which is excellent to do the typical job. However, they are time-consuming and they don’t apply paint evenly. Spraying machines, which now are used in the US, in the US 95% of work is done by spray, in the UK 95% is done by brush and roller. The machines give you a much superior finish, ultimately they are much faster, and if used properly they can achieve completion dates for both commercial properties, industrial properties and newbuilds in a much better capacity than in the old fashioned system.

Gary added later that spray machines are used in the US to apply approx 95% of the application of surface coatings, whereas in the Uk the current figure is only 5%. One machine is an airless which in the main is used to spray paint to, walls, ceiling and external masonry. The other HVLP machine allows more detailed spraying to, doors, architraves, skirting and kitchen cabinet doors. Both machines give a consistent and higher quality finish. Brush marks are eliminated and the work can be carried out considerably quicker and efficiently. Both machines can be used in the industrial, commercial, new build and domestic markets.

In the end, my aim would be to open as many strings to my bow as I can. If you look for new-builds, ideal: no one in the house and no furniture. But if you have a property where you may be doing two or three rooms, as long as you can move the furniture to the middle and cover, there’s no reason why it can’t be used in those at all.

Can you tell us a little about the grants you have received?

From the Barnwood Trust I received an Opportunities Award grant. That covered the purchase of the specialist spray application machines that I need to be able to run the business successfully. I was also lucky to receive from the Gem Project, another grant, which covered the specialist spray application courses, which I’ve carried out one already – I have three more to do which are held in Slough in the southeast.

If someone at home were thinking about applying for a grant, what advice would you give?

For years my pride got the better of me. In the end by finally opening up and asking for help, it has allowed me to move forward with my life. Without that help, I would probably be stuck in a situation for an awful long time. So, my message would be – put your pride to one side, and ask.

As I see it in a nutshell, it is from diversity there is hope. You can be in the worst position, but with the aid of other people or organisations you can move forward.

Transcribed by Marc Griffiths at Barnwood Trust, contact

About the Opportunities Award

The Opportunities Award opens up exciting new possibilities – such as training, equipment or clothing that may help you towards a job, volunteering or setting up a new business.  It can also be used to help with materials for a hobby or equipment for a sport you enjoy.

Visit our grants pages for more information