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Venture Trust set to provide crucial support for veterans caught in the criminal justice system


Venture Trust, the UK charity that specialises in supporting disadvantaged people struggling to cope with chaotic life circumstances, is to launch a specific programme to help veterans caught in the criminal justice system.

The Living Wild programme – funded by Scottish Government and a number of UK trusts and foundations– comprises a three phase approach with a wilderness journey at its core, and has been proven to significantly reduce reoffending. As a result of crucial grant funding from Armed Forces Covenant, Venture Trust will now run Living Wild programmes over the course of three years, specifically for veterans.

There are thousands of veterans leaving the military and struggling with the transition to civilian life. They find themselves unable to maintain relationships, function as part of a family, to adjust to new employment, to settle in to an independent life; often, this can lead to crime which then becomes a cycle that is impossible to break alone. That is where Venture Trust can help to bring about that change. Its Living Wild personal development programme has been established for some time and has demonstrated its worth in reducing reoffending, bringing about changes in challenging behaviour, and tackling issues such as long term unemployment and poor social skills. With the grant funding of £315,064 from Armed Forces Covenant, Venture Trust will be able to take almost 200 veterans through its Living Wild programme, working with referral partners to provide opportunities for employment, leading to a healthier and happier, more productive and stable life for veterans, and their families.

Venture Trust has over 30 years of experience of successfully working with people who face multiple barriers to living a balanced, healthy and safe life; that could be addiction, homelessness, isolation, abuse, long term unemployment, and a cycle of crime. Many of them face all of those barriers at once. The organisation uses its hugely successful wilderness journeys – taking participants out of their normal environment, away from the temptations and pressure of every-day life, away from technology, and into the wilds of nature. It is these journeys that provide participants with space to think, to see that there is opportunity, that they do have a choice, to gain life skills and to begin to hope. When they return home they receive support to make positive changes in their life.

Venture Trust also runs the Positive Futures programme (funded by Forces in Mind Trust – FiMT), which again is a veteran specific programme for those struggling with the transition to civilian life. This too is has a wilderness journey at its heart.

Amelia Morgan, Chief Executive of Venture Trust comments, “We have a lot of experience in supporting people in the criminal justice system to change their lives, stop offending, gain employment, learn new skills, gain sustainable homes and rebuild broken relationships.

We know that our programmes work as part of the rehabilitation process, and that people can often go on to live successful lives. This works for all kinds of people in the criminal justice system struggling to break that cycle.”

She continues, “What this funding from the Armed Services Covenant allows is the opportunity for us to provide that support specifically for veterans, men and women who have sacrificed so much already. We know that there is a need for this support, as we have found that a significant number of veterans have joined our programmes over the years, due to the other barriers they might be facing (addiction, unemployment, homelessness etc). To have something specifically for this group of people is crucial.”

The Living Wild programme comprises a three phase approach. In Phase One, Venture Trust works with referral partners to reach out to those most in need of help. When the individuals sign up to a Venture Trust programme, it is often their last resort, as an alternative to custody or a community payback order. Phase Two takes the form of a ten day wilderness journey in the Highlands of Scotland, where participants will develop new social skills, work towards behavioural changes and working on confidence and motivation, responsibility, cause and effect. If Phase Two provides the life-changing moments, the inspiration and the hope, then Phase Three is where it becomes reality. Each participant receives one-to-one support for up to 18 months to help achieve their goals; in this case, reducing reoffending, behavioural changes, improved social skills, and potential for employment, education, training and volunteering.

ENDS

This news article appeared on Employability in Scotland website and newsletter. To read the article, click here

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