We're pleased to see Venture Trust's Living Wild programme featured in 'Revitalising Communities in the Highlands' - the publication of Highland LEADER.
As the brochure sets out, the publication 'showcases the success of our very different and distinctive communities in moving towards a confident, sustainable future and describes their experience of the journey. We have selected the featured projects to demonstrate the diversity and innovation of the Programme'.
The support of the Highland LEADER programme has been invaluable in expanding the reach of the Living Wild programme in the Highlands over the past two years, supporting people involved in offending to work towards more positive, productive futures.
The full publication can be downloaded here.
A committed and eager team of runners competed in the Edinburgh Marathon Festival for Venture Trust on Sunday 26th May 2013.
Following an early sunny start to the day, all of Venture Trust’s six Edinburgh Marathon runners, which included two full marathon runners and a relay team, were all ready and raring to go, determined to run fast times. As the crowds started to swarm around the runners, already armed with refreshments and Haribo supplies, you could sense the excitement of the race and the nerves of the runners building. With 10 minutes to go until the start, all runners were given their final instructions and told to be ready in their pens. Everyone could feel the tension and apprehension of the runners who were eager to go, desperate for that all important 10 second countdown. When the announcement finally came, with ‘Eye of the Tiger’ blaring out of the speakers, you could see all the runners suddenly focus with their competitive race faces on. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.....and they were off! The atmosphere was electric, with all the supporters screaming and running alongside the barriers to cheer on their loved ones as far as they could, before the race marshals stopped them.
After some bucket shaking and time spent travelling to get to the race finish line, we were ready to meet and congratulate our runners. After some initial difficulty finding them, due to the density of the crowds, we finally caught up with them all.
Our first runner to finish, Emma Shaw, still looking reasonably fresh after running the full marathon in an incredible time of 3 hours and 24 minutes, said: “I have run two marathons before, but this is the first time I have run for charity and it has been an honour to run for Venture Trust. While I was running I kept thinking that whatever pain I’m in it is so small compared to the experiences of the young people the staff at Venture Trust help, so thank you for such a great opportunity, I have loved every minute of it.”
Our second full marathon runner, Adam Robinson, who also looked really good for someone who had just run a fantastic time of 3 hours and 32 minutes, remarked: “I’m reasonably happy with this time for my debut marathon, but I think I can cut this time by 15 minutes, which I’ll do at my next one! However, I concur with Emma that running on behalf of Venture Trust has been an incredible experience and it is great to know that the money I have raised will help make such a difference to the young people the charity works with and I would happily do it all over again!”
Finally, we managed to catch our relay team, led by Jamie Cherrie, who all ran a great time of around 3 hours and 40 minutes. Jamie, although slightly disappointed by his team’s time, said: “Thank you for allowing us to have this opportunity to run for Venture Trust, the charity does incredible work with young people and we have had a lot of fun along the way.”
This fantastic team of runners are set to raise around £1300 for Venture Trust, which will go a long way to enabling the young people that Venture Trust staff work with to change their lives for the better.
A huge thank you to everyone who came along to support our runners on Sunday, as well as those at Jokers Masquerade for providing the antlers, used in many of our post race photos, for our runners to keep as a race souvenir for running on behalf of Venture Trust.
Has this event whetted your appetite for a charity challenge that you can do to raise money for Venture Trust?! If so, do not hesitate to check out our events page here!
An enthusiastic, committed and fearless team of 10 Venture Trust supporters successfully conquered the Forth Rail Bridge Abseil!
On an overcast and foggy day on Sunday 19th May, 10 Venture Trust supporters, which included some of the Sainsbury’s Quartermile Edinburgh staff, two previous Venture Trust course participants and one of our own Criminal Justice Community Development workers, tackled the charity’s first challenge event of the year, the Forth Rail Bridge Abseil. An event that forces participants to confront their fear of heights head on by abseiling 165ft SAS style down the Forth Rail Bridge.
Prior to registration, all of Venture Trust’s event participants were extremely calm and didn’t appear anxious at all. However, after being briefed, kitted up and ready to go, some nerves started to creep in.
Previous Venture Trust course participant Teri said: “I’m starting to get slightly nervous now. Leighton and I are a right pair as he’s scared of bridges and I’m not the best with heights!”
All of Venture Trust’s abseilers were then led across the top of the bridge to get them into place. Shortly afterwards, almost each and every one of them appeared to fly down from top to bottom, as they were so quick, showing no fear as their feet grounded the beach. Although, there was slight concern over our last abseiler, Siyan, who emerged 10-15 minutes later after having a mental challenge overcoming the step off the bridge, all participants were ecstatic knowing they had successfully finished the challenge, raising both money and awareness for Venture Trust.
Leighton, former Venture Trust course participant, said: “I was so happy to be given the chance to do this abseil and to give something back to Venture Trust as they have done so much for me”.
Mary, one of Venture Trust’s Criminal Justice Community Development workers, who also completed the abseil, remarked: “I’m so proud of Teri and Leighton, I know doing this means everything to them.”
This incredible group of supporters are set to raise around £1,000 for Venture Trust, which will make a massive difference to the lives of the young people Venture Trust work with.
Do you fancy undertaking a challenge for Venture Trust to enable more disadvantaged young people a chance for change? You can find a list of our events for this year here.
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.
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.