We're absolutely thrilled to announce that Venture Trust has been shortlisted as 'Charity of the year' in the SCVO's Scottish Charity Awards. This award is given to an organisation which has celebrated outstanding achievements and reached significant goals within the last year.
2012 was always going to be a significant year for Venture Trust. It was a year of both challenge and opportunity, kicked off in the most significant of ways with a new Chief Executive – Mark Bibbey – who joined Venture Trust on the 1st January 2012. The new year marked a new start, and 2012 has been a year of innovation and success for Venture Trust; one which has seen significant achievements whilst laying the groundwork for further future success.
2012 has been challenging and rewarding in equal measure; despite a difficult economic climate, our innovative, committed and highly competent staff have worked hard to continue to reach and support those with most need but importantly, this year, to ensure that more than ever before have been able to make significant changes to their lives. It is an honour to be nominated for this award and the recognition it affords to the work we do is much appreciated across Venture Trust and the partners with whom we work so closely. Mark Bibbey – Chief Executive
The awards will be announced at a ceremony on the 13th June, alongside a 'People's Choice' award for the charity which recieves most public support.
How you can help
1. Please vote for Venture Trust to be the ‘People’s Choice’ charity. Just go to http://www.scvo.org.uk/vote/venture-trust/
2. Then, can you help us spread the word? We’ll be emailing all of our supporters and networks over the next day or two, but you can help us to get the word out even more widely:
- If you use Twitter, please help us to share the following message: @VentureTrust has been shortlisted Charity of the Year at #scotcharityawards! Pls RT & vote them People’s Choice at www.scvo.org.uk/vote
- If you use Facebook, please help us to share the following message: Venture Trust has been shortlisted for Charity of the Year at the Scottish Charity Awards! Please help them get picked as the ‘People’s Choice’ charity by ‘sharing’ this, and cast your vote at http://www.scvo.org.uk/vote/venture-trust/
- Are you a member of any other groups or networks who could help us raise awareness even more widely? Please help us reach out to as many people as possible to share the news of our shortlist, celebrate our achievements this year, and be in with a chance of winning the People’s Choice award!
Why we were shortlisted
2012 has seen three significant developments for Venture Trust – enabling us to provide effective support to more of those who need it most:
1. Reaching out to more of those in need: The launch of female-specific provision.
In summer 2012 we completed a trial of a new programme (entitled ‘Next Steps’), offering female-only support to women from extremely complex backgrounds. All 48 women supported in the trial period had been involved in offending, and many were also caught up in issues such as substance misuse, domestic violence, and family breakdown. The demand for this programme – developed in collaboration with partners and participants – was overwhelming. All of the women who took part improved their employability, and more than 80% improved their self confidence and reduced their risk of reoffending.
The type of positive life changes the women have made since returning home from the programme include; abstaining from alcohol; desisting crime and taking up (or trying to find) volunteer or paid work ... The programme appeared to have a positive impact on the women’s offending behaviours.
University of Edinburgh evaluation, 2012
In 2012 we were asked to contribute to the Scottish Government’s Commission on Women Offenders, and to support participants from our Next Steps programme to share their insights. The report of the Commission strongly supports Venture Trust’s partnership-based, holistic approach. At the end of 2012, the demonstrable impact and effectiveness of the programme helped us to secure part-funding from Comic Relief to work with 32 women per year for the next three years.
“Obviously it’s made me a better person and I want to progress more and stay a better person, I don’t want to go back the way. I want to focus and go forward and that’s what they have taught me is that you try and leave your past behind and they help you to move on and they give you the confidence to do that”
Venture Trust participant
2. Increasing our self sufficiency: The development of a social enterprise.
In a challenging economic climate, Venture Trust’s strong relationships with statutory and trust funders has enabled our core provision to continue. However, our ambitions for growth led us to act proactively to support our financial resilience. We have opened a hostel in Applecross, Wester Ross, and are providing individual and team training courses across Scotland - giving us the opportunity to share our expertise across the sector, raise awareness about our work, and to generate income for our programmes. We have generated over £20,000 in this first year, and anticipate a turnover of £400,000 over the next three years. Despite 2012 being only our first year of trading, we have already been shortlisted in a Local Business Accelerators competition:
“These great young businesses show that Edinburgh is still producing budding entrepreneurs, despite the downturn”.
Tom Little, editor of Edinburgh Evening News, and Business Accelerators judge
3. Doing more of what we do well: Reaching out to more young people across Scotland.
Whilst innovation is necessary and exciting, this is never at the expense of our core provision. In 2012, we secured almost £700,000 in BIG Lottery funding to support 180 young care leavers and carers in Glasgow and Inverclyde over the next three years. Alongside our existing funding, this will help us to reach over 2,000 participants between 2013 and 2016. Criminal justice provision also remains central to our work, and in 2012 we saw increasing referral and participation rates for our criminal justice-focussed provision – reaching those who need it most from across all of Scotland’s Local Authorities.
"Amazing how many lives it can change. Just by bringing a couple ah young misfits, ah young criminals. You bring em out here in the middle a nowhere an’ they change. I never thought ah’d change but now ah feel as if ah’ve changed, aye. The course helps you look at life – different ways of like, living, instead of drugs or violence".
Venture Trust participant
Our programme in Malawi is now in its final phase. From modest beginnings, we have, together with our Malawian partners (Malawi Social Welfare, Children & Community Development, Malawi Police Service, Malawi Prison Service and the Department of Public Prosecutions) developed a programme with the potential to deliver real and sustainable outcomes for young Malawians who find themselves in the criminal Justice system or who, for various reasons, are at risk of offending. The programme is currently only running in Lilongwe, but has the potential, ultimately, to be the model for similar programmes elsewhere in Malawi.
The ultimate measure of success is the extent to which we are able to hand over a sustainable programme to local ownership. With this in mind, we bid successfully for 5 places on the Commonwealth Professional Fellowship Scheme funded by DfID. With the experience of working alongside Venture Trust staff in Malawi, cemented by the education provided by this scheme, these individuals from our Malawian partner agencies will form a highly effective cadre to take the programme forward. We are grateful to Scottish Government for agreeing to fund an extension to our programme to enable us to link our handover to the Fellowship programme, and plan to have completed the full programme handover to local partners by the end of the Commonwealth Professional Fellowship Scheme in September 2013.
So, what has been achieved over the last 3 years?
Our niche experience in the UK’s criminal justice sector has undoubtedly played a major role in transforming and embedding good practice in Malawi’s youth justice sector. We and our partners have achieved much since the launch of “Mwai Wosinthika” (A Chance for Change) and have exceeded all our targets. Initially, we set up and developed a multi-stakeholder, personal development and life-skills programme for young people in Kachere Juvenile Prison. Almost 300 of Malawi’s most vulnerable and excluded young people have taken part; building the confidence, motivation and life-skills they needed to improve their chances in life. Of those who have taken part:
• 73% showed a reduced risk of reoffending on release from prison.
• 60% have taken up some form of education, training, job or wage-earning activity.
• 65% have greater awareness of HIV/AIDS and other health issues.
The wider impacts are potentially even more important. Venture Trust’s staff have facilitated high-level buy-in to the rehabilitative approach from the Malawi Prison Service, Malawi Police Department, Department of Public Prosecutions and Malawi Social Welfare, resulting in genuine and effective partnership working on a day-to-day basis. In total, almost 50 staff from across more than 30 different agencies have become involved in the delivery, helping to create a legacy of skills and experience of partnership working in Malawi’s youth justice sector. The depth and strength of partner staff’s commitment and participation has been instrumental in getting us to the point where we feel confident that the handover of a sustainable programme to local control is achievable. The shift from punitive justice to a focus on rehabilitation is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that Kachere Juvenile Prison was re-named Kachere Reformatory Centre mid-way through the project period.
Latterly, at the request of local partners including the police, social services & courts, we have extended the project to those considered ‘at risk’ of offending in the community, to prevent young people ending up in Prison in the first place. This represented a major landmark: the delivery of Malawi’s first ever diversion programme under the criteria set out by the new Child Justice Act in the Malawi Constitution. We have spearheaded a partnership showing how to put progressive youth justice policies & principles into grassroots practice. The programme has now been running for three months based at the Victim Support Unit in Lilongwe Model Police Station, with over 20 participants engaging and being diverted from the Child Justice court, the police custody cells and off the streets.
It is well known that offending and imprisonment impose high costs on individuals, communities and society as a whole that Malawi can ill-afford – exacerbating poverty in all its forms. “Mwai Wosinthika” will, we hope, leave a lasting legacy that far exceeds original expectations, and make a significant contribution to Malawi’s increasingly positive future.
21st March 2013 saw us heading to the Social Enterprise Exchange event at the SECC to launch Venture Mhòr, our social enterprise. The Exchange is the world’s largest social enterprise gathering with around 1,000 delegates. A day of listening to the latest developments for social enterprise and talking with delegates visiting our stand was a great start to our social enterprise aspirations.
We’ve also been preparing the ground for the spring opening of our youth hostel, Hartfield House in Applecross. We are delighted to become an affiliate hostel as part of the Hostelling Scotland family. Hartfield House is available to book all year round for individuals, families and larger groups – see the SYHA website for more information.
“Hartfield House is a beautiful building in an idyllic location, you really feel 'away from it all'. The accommodation was warm, clean and comfortable and the shower was amazing! The staff were so friendly and welcoming and in particular went over and above expectations when a precious item had been left behind! I can't wait to get back for another visit!” Review left on hihostels.com from a visitor.
Head over to the Venture Mhòr website to sign up for the newsletter and enter our competition to win a weekend’s B&B for two at Hartfield House in Applecross.
"Mwai wosinithika…a chance for change”
Venture Trust began its international work in 2010 specifically working on a project in Kachere Juvenile Prison in Lilongwe, Malawi in Southern Africa. We did so at the request of the Scottish & Malawi Governments, who recognized that Venture Trust’s distinct approach to supporting young people in need of ‘a chance for change’ offered something of real importance to the evolving criminal justice sector in Malawi.
Many people in our organisation at that time wondered what the relevance of working in a prison in some country in the middle of Africa, that many could not place a pin on the map! It was a reasonable question to ask.
At that time Venture Trust was an organization that worked with vulnerable people only in the UK, predominantly in Scotland and not across all local authorities. (When I started with Venture Trust we had only one main programme called “a chance for change” which focused on young peopleon probation (aged 16-24) and was based in Applecross with less than 10 staff.) Now Venture Trust works with many more local authorities in Scotland and supports a far greater range of people.
The blog from Malawi and more recently our facebook page has hopefully kept you up to date with how the project “mwai wosinthika”…or … “a chance for change” (in the national chewa language) has evolved and changed in Malawi. From specifically working within the walls of Kachere Juvenile Prison with one permanent member of staff in 2010-11, we recruited Tom Sanderson from his prison background in the UK.
As we built partnerships with a range of Malawian agencies (including the police, social welfare, courts and traditional authorities) we were asked to extend our outreach work into the communities in and around Lilongwe (Malawi’s capital). Perhaps as importantly it enabled Venture Trust to further develop the programme, offering a far stronger ‘change for change’ through using the catalyst of a “wilderness” journey, albeit it in a significantly different (and somewhat hotter) environment than in Scotland!
Many people back in Scotland probably wonder if the programme looks anything like those that Venture Trust offers young people in the UK. Well, apart from the heat and the language many of you would recognize the “syllabus” which has three phases,is centred on a willingness to change and helps individuals unlock the skills and competencies to achieve this. It starts with heavy support, and retains a constant focus upon transferring new skills back into day-to-day life. Our outreach workers (jointly with Malawian social workers and a small number of Malawian volunteers) continue to offer support to participants as necessary back in Lilongwe after their wilderness experience.
Living Wild: “Dziko labwino”…space to think about your world
The wilderness journey has now been offered to over a hundred vulnerable young Malawians in 2012-2013 either from Kachere or at risk of been sent there from within the Lilongwe area.
A willingness to change is perhaps the only thing that we ask of our clients (and ourselves) whether they are Scottish, from elsewhere in the UK, or African.
The 18th July 2013 will mark another “first” for Venture Trust as an organization as we have succeeded in being accepted as a nominating organization with the Commonwealth Professional Fellowship Scheme. This offers five Malawians with whom we have been closely working over the last three years “an opportunity of a lifetime” (their words not mine) to come to Scotland and see and share our work,compare experiences and deepen the skills they need to sustain ‘Mwai Wosinthika’ in Malawi’s criminal justice sector long after Venture Trust staff have left. They represent the main sectors we have been working with in Malawi; The Malawi Prison Service, The Malawi Police Service, The Social Welfare (Ministry of Gender, Children and Community Development) and the Courts (Ministry of Justice).
More will follow on this nearer the time with biographies and a work exchange plan over July August and September. We are sure you will welcome our colleagues from Malawi and give them a “warm welcome” from the significantly colder heart of Scotland. (Malawi is known as the warm heart of Africa).
A community reaching their goals.
Our work in Africa with no prior experience as an organization has shown that Venture Trust is itself flexible and willing to change (not to mention highly effective!). This is something we must continue to be if we are to be true to our clients and colleagues.
Venture Trust Malawi
Reach for your goals
A short verse that a few of our participants may recognise from their time on exped, but one that will doubtless resonate with many more of those we've supported:
Be exactly who you want to be, do what you want to do
I am he and she is she but you're the only you
No one else has got your eyes, can see the things you see
It's up to you to change your life and my life's up to me.
The problems that you suffer from are problems that you make
The shit we have to climb through is the shit we choose to take
If you don't like the life you live, change it now - it's yours
Nothing has effects if you don't recognise the cause.
If the programme's not the one you want, get up, turn off the set
It's only you that can decide what life you're gonna get
I am he and she is she but you're they only you.