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Big Lottery Funds Next Steps for Women

Next Steps: helping women make positive life changes and escape cycles of offending

Venture Trust is delighted to announce today that it has been awarded £840,320 from the Big Lottery Fund to expand its highly successful “Next Steps” programme, helping 360 of Scotland’s most vulnerable women to transform their lives.

Over the next 3 years, this national project will enable Venture Trust to work alongside established criminal justice partners across Scotland to address the needs of women who are currently caught up in a cycle of offending. It will provide a three staged approach tailored to the needs of each individual, including initial engagement and assessment, a wilderness-based personal development expedition, and community based aftercare support. In close partnership with fellow charity ‘Move On’, it will additionally train 60 women to become ‘peer mentors’ helping others in similar circumstances.

Linking directly with the Angiolini Report’s recommendations, Venture Trust’s work has evolved to improve support for women to escape offending. Building on Venture Trust’s established expertise, women will take part in a life-changing wilderness expedition. This is a key catalytic component for making and sustaining a change in their lives, and learning the life-skills necessary to sustain them. Individually tailored 1-to-1 outreach support provides support, advice and encouragement – a key relationship on which women can depend.

“Venture Trust’s Next Steps programme has been developed and refined over several years to address a number of the key issues highlighted in Dame Angiolini’s report. Thus far, we have worked closely with a small number of partners in Local Authorities. Thanks to this award from the Big Lottery, we can now further develop and deliver this service, with partners, on a truly national basis, improving the outcomes for women offenders and addressing Dame Angiolini’s observation that: ‘services which target the offending and rehabilitative features and characteristics of women offenders are not consistently provided throughout Scotland’”: Mark Bibbey: Venture Trust, Chief Executive.

One group of women each year will also use photography to document their experiences and journey through the programme. This previously piloted photography element enables participants to focus subjectively on what is important to them, deepening their personal development experience.

Venture Trust, in partnership with the Big Lottery Fund and Move On, will deliver bespoke intensive personal and social development services, which aim to reduce risk of re-offending and substance misuse and to support women to access other services that will further improve their lives.

“Next Steps has been innovative in both its approach to partnership working and in delivering a service that has outstanding outcomes for female offenders. We are delighted to receive this funding from the Big Lottery to extend this provision throughout the country for a very vulnerable group within our society.” Joe Connelly: Venture Trust, Head of Programmes.

Check out The Big Lottery Fund Scotland's blog, The Big Blog Scotland, for a Next Steps case study!

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