Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Employability and Training, met with participants at our National Participant Centre in Stirling, to present them with their SQA (Scottish Qualification Authority) certificates.
The presentation is a celebration of the achievement that vulnerable young adults have made on their journey through the Inspiring Young Futures programme, which is funded by The Big Lottery, Inspiring Scotland, European Social Funds (ESF), the Scottish Government, local authorities and UK trusts and foundations.
Inspiring Young Futures supports young people to learn life skills and achieve an SQA qualification. The programme includes an intensive 8-day wilderness journey in the Scottish wilderness where outdoor activity and experiential learning techniques are used as a mechanism for unlocking skills, building confidence and raising aspiration. Following this journey, the participants, aged between 16 and 25, are given support to achieve their goals. For many this will result in gaining the skills to prepare them for employment, education, training or volunteering.
These participants are on their way to reaching positive destinations, working towards managing what can be very challenging and disadvantaged life circumstances such as homelessness, isolation, addiction, abuse, and long term unemployment. All 14 of the participants have achieved a recognised qualification in personal development, a significant milestone on their journey.
The event took place at Venture Trust’s National Participant Centre in Stirling on 9 August, the hub where wilderness journeys start and finish, and a base for employability workshops and training. Jamie Hepburn visited the centre to meet with Venture Trust’s Chief Executive Officer, Amelia Morgan, and to find out a little more about the work that is being done to help young people unlock their potential. Jamie presented the participants with their certificates, and joined them for lunch where he was able to meet and talk to them about their own personal story.
Amelia Morgan, Chief Executive Officer at Venture Trust, comments, “We were delighted that Jamie attended our SQA event and kindly presented the certificates to our participants. For all of our young people, achieving a qualification is a huge step, and shows what a long way they have already come since arriving at Venture Trust. Many will go on to further education, training, volunteering or employment, and this is a key catalyst for positive life changes.”
Minister for Employability and Training Jamie Hepburn said: “I was pleased to visit Venture Trust and present the well-earned qualification certificates to so many young people. It is great to see the benefits of all their hard work paying off. The work being done by Venture Trust will help the young people I saw today and will have long lasting benefits in the wider community.
The life skills and employability training helps boost confidence of young people allowing them to build more positive futures. Ensuring we can continue to support organisations like Venture Trust is central to our strategy to promote young people in the workforce, and will help us to achieve our ambition of a 40 per cent reduction in youth employment by 2020.”
The visit marks the anniversary of Venture Trust’s National Participant Centre, which has now been in operation for a year. In that time, 392 participants have walked through its doors ready for a life changing journey in the Scottish wilderness, and the organisation itself has achieved a coveted AHOEC (Association of Head of Outdoor Education Centres) Gold Standard award for responsible outdoor learning.
For further details of the Venture Trust’s Inspiring Young Futures programme, click here.
This year's Venture Together programme saw 12 young people take part in a range of workshops designed to deliver practical and informative employability support.
Venture Together is part of Venture Trust’s third phase of support and is delivered in partnership with long-standing supporters, Barclays, the UK based banking and financial services company. It builds on the core skills and behaviours developed during the initial two phases, which include a 5-10 day wilderness journey. The programme provides employability support and focuses on the key skills participants need as they move towards education, employment and/or training.
In addition to the workshops a residential weekend also took place, combining a conservation/volunteering project with a personal development journey. The young people, accompanied by staff from Barclays and Venture Trust, travelled down to the borders where they teamed up with social enterprise MyAdventure to help clear trees and tidy the ground around their Bothy. The weekend provided a great opportunity for the participants to make a contribution to the community while gaining valuable work experience.Workshops and sessions were delivered by Barclays staff and included an introduction to IT skills, budgeting, CV writing and mock interviews. Participants really valued the time given by the staff from Barclays and benefitted from their specialist skills and expertise.
A graduation ceremony took place at Barclay’s offices in Edinburgh at the end of the programme, recognising the participant’s achievements and affirming the value that the programme has both for the young people and the staff from Barclays. During the event participants were keen to give their feedback and the difference the programme has made:
“It's provided a stepping stone, before I was stuck, I wasn’t ready to get a job but I’d tried other programmes and nothing had worked. It was the best decision I’ve made, I wanted to get away from the people who had been a negative influence and it helped me to do that.”
“I would recommend the course to other people, it boosted my confidence and I now feel ready to go and get a job.”
“The support is brilliant, I’m now at college thanks to Venture Trust helping me to realise who I am and how I can do better in my life.”
We would like to wish all the participants every success for the future and say a huge thank you to Barclays for your ongoing support of the Venture Together programme.
Before embarking on a Venture Trust course, life for Kirsten Calcott was very unhappy. She had been living at a homeless unit in Fife, and various hostels, since the age of 16 but struggled to cope with managing her emotions due to mental health issues. She had been through the system, tried all sorts of organisations to gain some support but nothing seemed to work.
Kirsten had a daughter in 2012 but her mental health issues continued to dog her. She suffered a mental breakdown in 2014, which led to Kirsten’s daughter being put into foster care.
Things seemed to be turning a corner when Kirsten met her partner whilst on a horticulture course. They moved in together, and Kirsten graduated with merit. In February 2015 Kirsten’s partner died unexpectedly. This left her angry and again unable to cope. She received support from Shelter, who helped her to address her housing situation, and to make tentative steps towards further education. Her contact at Shelter put her in touch with Venture Trust and suggested that enrolling on a Venture Trust programme may help with gaining some control of her life.
Kirsten has not looked back. In July 2015, at the age of 25, she signed up to the Venture Trust Transitions to Independent Living programme, which is designed for those living in temporary supported accommodation, unstable tenancies or considered at risk of homelessness. Currently funded by the Scottish Government and Dulverton Trust, the programme helps participants to develop their confidence, relationships, employability and other skills necessary to secure and sustain permanent accommodation.
Kirsten comments, “I didn’t think Venture Trust would really be able to help. I’d been through many systems and been to too many groups. I thought it was just going to be the same as the rest. But it wasn’t. Venture Trust pushed me to my limits and showed me what I was capable of. It changed me. It helped so much to get away; that was the best thing; being given a chance to think.”
She continues, “I’ve still got problems, but I can deal with them now. Venture Trust gave me coping mechanisms to manage my problems when I got back home. The activities really enabled me to see that there was another way to deal with things. The Red Flag activity has been so good for me. I used to get really angry, but now when I get annoyed, I just see the staff running around on the beach and it makes me giggle.”
Since completing the Venture Trust programme, Kirsten has received one-to-one support from her outreach worker with the aim of achieving some of her goals. She now has a part time job, has just finished college, achieving high grades in the sciences. She has also been accepted at university to study psychology and forensic biology, which starts in August.
Kirsten explains: “I live in student accommodation now, but once I start at university I am hoping to get my own flat. I’m even contemplating swimming lessons and I am really scared of water! Two weeks ago, I walked the East Highland Way with some friends. It took five days and we went through Newtonmore which is where I went canoeing with Venture Trust. I was telling my friends all about it and how I was determined I wasn’t getting in the boat, but I did. I didn’t think I would. But I did it!
I am making efforts to go out with my friends, which is something I hadn’t done for a long while; I am finding this a really positive thing as I am more balanced knowing that I have the support of friends. And I am now off my medication for depression; my plan was to cut down, but I’m off it completely. I am looking forward to becoming a Venture Trust mentor, supporting other people who are struggling to see a way ahead.”
For further information about Venture Trust’s Transitions to Independent Living programme, please visit: http://www.venturetrust.org.uk/programmes/transitions-independent-living/
Venture Trust is pleased to announce that it has been awarded £49,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to work specifically with young carers in Glasgow. The funding will enable Venture Trust to provide personal development support coupled with two heritage wilderness journeys, in partnership with Historic Environment Scotland (HES).
The course, named Tracking the Highland Drovers, will focus on the history and heritage of drovers’ routes over a week long heritage journey. Twenty-four young carers will be given the opportunity to learn about this key part of Highland life, receiving support from Venture Trust and training from HES to choose topics to explore during their heritage journey.
The Scottish cattle drovers were a key part of Highland life from the 14th century to the 1940s, shaping the landscape in the form of roads and paths through some of its wildest terrain. Drovers required intimate knowledge of their routes and very high levels of endurance to survive their long journeys. This resonates with Venture Trust’s use of the outdoors as a learning environment for personal development, and a catalyst for change. During the course of the eight day journey, the young carers will develop life skills that will prepare them for more successful futures. The young people will use a range of methods to record and interpret their findings such as photography, videoing and Geocaching, creating a resource to encourage other young people to engage with history and heritage in the future.
Commenting on the award, Amelia Morgan, Chief Executive Officer of Venture Trust, said: “We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, and are confident the project will support young people to be active citizens with pride in their Scottish heritage.”
The programme builds upon Venture Trust’s already very successful delivery model for the Inspiring Young Futures programme, which aims at supporting young people to make positive changes in their lives. Many of the young people, aged between 16 and 25, will have a multitude of barriers in addition to having been young carers. These could be isolation, disengagement from education and employment, addiction, homelessness and abuse.
Tracking the Drovers course has just launched and will run until September 2017 with the aim of supporting 24 Glasgow young carers. During this time Venture Trust aims to:
- suppport 24 young carers to develop self-confidence, personal and social skills relevant in all aspects of life, learning and work.
- support 24 young carers to develop technical skills in research, investigation, social media use, Geocaching
- support 10 Historic Environment Scotland staff to develop and foster a learning platform to engage with a group of young people who may not have had the opportunity to engage with the historic environment
HES staff are providing invaluable help and advice during the development of the project and will be involved in assisting the young people in carrying out research. They will also enable Venture Trust to access unique opportunities for immersive learning about heritage at key points along the 8-day wilderness journey.
James Turner, project lead for Historic Environment Scotland said: “We are hugely proud to be supporting the Venture Trust in championing participants to grow their confidence and motivation. Furthermore working with the Venture Trust will give Historic Environment Scotland the opportunity to engage and connect with a key young audience group. The project we are developing will allow the young adults to learn about the historic environment fostering a sense of belonging, ownership and pride”.
During the development of the project, Margaret Ralph, South West Glasgow Carers Centre, comments, “I believe this project would be a fantastic opportunity for the young carers we work with in Glasgow, taking them away from their home environments and giving them the chance to spend a week experiencing Venture Trust’s unique wilderness personal development programme. We have previously worked in partnership with Venture Trust and we value the opportunities that the organisation offers to young people.”
Those who embark on the Tracking the Highland Drovers programme will benefit from up to 12 months of one-to-one support from a Venture Trust outreach worker following their wilderness journey. This support will enable them to draw on the skills learnt, and begin making positive changes such as taking steps to volunteer, get back into education, training or employment.
Lucy Casot, Head of HLF Scotland, said: “We are enthusiastic about giving young people the chance to learn about heritage. Thanks to National Lottery players our Young Roots programme helps them to bring fresh ideas and energy to the task. Tracking the Highland Drovers – Young Carers Exploring the History and Heritage of Drovers' Routes is an excellent example of how they can get involved, take decisions, develop new skills and interests, connect with their communities and have fun.”
From July 1st 2016, there will be a new universal referral form for all of our programmes.
This new document, replaces all previous templates and it is a mandatory requirement for all referring agencies to submit a completed hand signed version of this form for each candidate they wish to refer (preferably a scanned copy sent via email).
This change comes as part of an organisation wide update of our procedures related to participant paperwork, driven by aspirations to improve the quality of our work whilst meeting the criteria set out by our funders.
To access the new Referral Form, and to find out more about our programmes, please visit the ‘Programmes’ section of our website: http://www.venturetrust.org.uk/programmes/.
The Referral Form and appropriate contact details can be found in the ‘How to apply’ section of each programme.