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Let’s Work Together and Venture Together

It’s encouraging to see how effective partnerships between the Private Sector and the Third Sector are developing.

The relationship between corporates and charities, which at times has been blurred and diffuse, is at a watershed with a refocus on shared values, community credentials, and an oftentimes explicitly stated commitment to be responsible and responsive. There is an imperative for change which benefits the young people with whom we work, and the corporate partners who we actively engage.

There is much optimism and a sense that positive change can be effected at a societal, a community, and an individual level. This is something to nurture and develop for mutual benefit. The look and the feel of these partnerships, and the ‘walk’ and the ‘talk’, are in step, and it’s coming from a good place... this is a good time for Venture Trust as we seek to develop and grow the scale and quality of our corporate partnerships.

The Venture Together programme is an outstanding example. It has the look and feel of a partnership that makes a difference to the lives of young people. Venture Trust, along with co-delivery partner Venture Scotland, has been working closely with Barclays, the UK based banking and financial services company, for nearly two years.

The partnership is grounded in a shared interest and desire to help young people grow their self esteem, their employability, and help them in their journey to becoming effective contributors in the future. The features of the programme are a series of employability workshops, delivered by Barclays staff, which includes CV writing, mock interviews, and budgeting. The programme culminates in a Bothy weekend, combining a wilderness setting with a personal development journey. A group of 6 – 8 young people, accompanied by Barclays staff, spend a weekend living in a Bothy and undertake a conservation project working as a team and learning a number of valuable life skills along the way.

The young people who participate in the Venture Together programme have typically spent 12-15 months on one of Venture Trust’s personal development programmes, having previously undertaken a wilderness expedition, and are now in the Phase 3 ‘community links’ stage of their journey . This is a real milestone for them and recognises that they have put in a lot of work to get to the point where the Venture Together programme has relevance for them. It is a huge affirmation of their personal commitment to bringing about the change that they want in their lives.

The relationship is characterised by the commitment of the Barclays staff, who give their time and talent to help young people and have genuine enthusiasm for being involved in what we do. The most recent Bothy weekend took place at Glen Etive at the end of May with Stephen, from Barclays, joining the group for the weekend.

Stephen reflects on his experience of being a participant and the insight that he gained from the weekend and said:

“It has been a real privilege working on the Venture Together programme. The combination of using Scotland’s wilderness with more conventional learning methods really does work and creates a very strong framework for the participants in achieving their longer term employment goals. To see how at ease all the participants were with the countryside was truly inspiring and the challenges set out allowed the team to demonstrate all the key skills needed in the work place – leadership, planning, team work, respect and of course good old fashioned hard work. Working with the participants and volunteers also taught me a lot about myself and represents one of the best development opportunities available to us at Barclays.”

To celebrate the achievements of the participants of the Bothy Weekend Barclays hosted a graduation ceremony at their splendid Georgian office in Edinburgh earlier in June. This marked a milestone in the delivery of the programme and acknowledged and affirmed the value it has for the partnership, the participants and the staff from Barclays.

Sheila, from Barclays, who opened the Graduation ceremony, commented:

At the Graduation ceremony, it was a privilege to meet the participants and hear how proud they were of what they had achieved. In hearing their own personal journey, it showed how much progress they had made as part of the Venture Together initiative since beginning this. The young individuals commented on their increase in confidence, the skills they now had to draw from and the hope that they now had in progressing their futures. Highlight of the day was hearing the success of those unable to attend as a result of securing a job, fantastic! It’s a pleasure for myself and all of the Barclays volunteers to be involved in partnership with Venture Trust, as we also get so much from this. It’s a terrific feeling to know you have contributed in some small way to these young people’s ability to move towards a better future’

‘John’ one of the Venture Together participants who received his award at the graduation ceremony said:

'I feel like a much more confident person and have learned some new skills especially in how to prepare for an interview and budgeting to manage my money. It has helped to make me more responsible and have more control over my day to day life. After the course I took copies of my CV down to Lennoxtown, where I live, and circulated them and also in Glasgow city centre. It felt good to be proactive and take action.'

Mark Bibbey , CEO Venture Trust, was invited to speak to Barclays Staff at their recent Townhall meeting in Glasgow at the end of June:

“Barclays investment of staff and resources in the Venture Together programme has had a multiplier effect on the outcomes achieved by our participants to the ultimate benefit of not only themselves, but also their communities. The employability master-classes have hugely improved our participants’ chances of getting a job, but the programme has also served to break down barriers, improve mutual understanding and to introduce additional positive adult role models into the lives of our participants. It’s not for me to judge the benefits for Barclays, but I would hope that Venture Together has served the Citizenship agenda well and that they feel there are real benefits personally, professionally and corporately from close involvement in the programme.”

The partnership has a distinct personal development flavour which resonates with Barclays and allows its staff to really engage with the young people through the programme. The opportunity to share a common experience with young people, and to shape that experience, has real meaning and value. Venture Trust’s programmes provide a safe space where participants are enabled to view themselves differently, be viewed differently by others, and look to a more positive future. A true partnership exists when there are common touch points, similar aspirations, alignment of values, and a willingness to work together and venture together. Upward and onward to future corporate partnerships!

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