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Venture Trust at Holyrood!

At a recent event at the Scottish Parliament hosted by Kenny MacAskill MSP, five young people, including two former Venture Trust participants, were invited to speak about their experience of the criminal justice system alongside experts and academics in the field.

The event was organised by the Centre for Youth & Criminal Justice (CYCJ), the Scottish Consortium for Crime and Criminal Justice (SCCCJ) and Venture Trust following the publication of a special edition of Scottish Justice Matters entitled Living it: children, young people and justice”. Ministers, MSPs, practitioners and young people were all in attendance to hear directly from the young people featured in the publication.

During her presentation, Susie commented on the impact Venture Trust had in turning her life around:

“The sheriff put me on a course with Venture Trust, this made absolutely the difference in my life, it was the right help at the right time. Which is what I needed all along.

[After] the Venture Trust course, I came back and I was motivated and I had everything, an action plan; I had the tools for life; I had everything that I needed to get on with life and ever since then hand on heart I can say that my life has gotten so much better. I’m working, I’ve worked for the police and young offenders and prison services.vated and I had everything, an action plan;

From all the bad stuff that happened in my life I try and make something good come from it and that’s about all I can do.

Individuals in this room have a responsibility to our young people in Scotland to give them a better chance. I don’t want to be standing here in another ten years’ time and there’s more young people with the same story that would just be pointless.”

Brian, another former Venture Trust participant also reflected on his experiences and the huge change which has occurred in his life as a result of the programme:

“My experience in the past wasn’t good, growing up, I never had a father-figure in my life. The day it’s different, the day I’m at college. I work part day with social work to help homeless people, it’s an amazing cause to be part of. I love life but it wasn’t always like that for me, it’s only because of the support I got from the Venture Trust.”

The ‘Living It’ feature was edited by Claire Lightowler from CYCJ along with the two former Venture Trust participants and together they were able to ensure that other young people had genuine opportunities to make their voices heard. As editors, they guided and shaped the publication, and subsequently engaged with the wider Criminal Justice Voluntary Sector Forum to facilitate the participation of a wide range of young people who have had different experiences at the sharp end of the justice system.

The team have explored issues which came to the fore, such as ‘kids with family members in custody, the impact of traumatic events in young lives, experiences of supervision and the intricacies of gaining employment with an offending history. They have also sought to highlight the importance of being positive about young people and how positive professionals can help make a difference.

The full issue of Scottish Justice Matters can be found here and you can read more inspirational participant stories on the Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice (CYCJ) blog.

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