Prevention and rehabilitation are fundamental to creating safer communities in Scotland and tackling the harm caused by crime.
Venture Trust welcomes the Scottish Government's commitment to encouraging the greater use of more effective community sentences to break cycles of reoffending.
On May 17th, the Government published an order to extend presumption against short prison sentences. Subject to the approval of Parliament, the existing presumption will be extended from three to 12 months and come into force this summer.
Venture Trust CEO Amelia Morgan said: “At Venture Trust, we would argue that we need to place far greater emphasis on rehabilitation in addition to unpaid work as part of any community sentence to facilitate behaviour change and assist more individuals to reduce their risk of reoffending and complete their sentence. Independent evaluations show our criminal justice programmes have had positive impacts on individuals. They have gained new skills, improved their confidence and have started working or studying. They are more stable and less likely to reoffend. These positive changes are then transferred to their families and communities.”
Statistics show people released from a custodial sentence of 12 months or less are reconvicted nearly twice as often as those sentenced to serve a Community Payback Order (CPO).
Often it was poverty, inequality and adverse childhood experiences and the trauma resulting from domestic abuse, addiction to drugs and alcohol that underpinned offending behaviour, Amelia said.
“Addressing underlying causes and taking a compassionate approach will reduce the impacts of crime. It means believing people can change and can come back from their mistakes. Someone’s past – where they grew up, their family background or previous negative and damaging experiences – does not have to define them. Diverting more people away from the justice system does create safer communities. It does break the cycle of offending and reduce the social harm and financial costs for individuals, families and communities.”
Investing in reliable and effective community provision and a collaborative public and third sector response will help people get their lives back on track and away from potential involvement in crime.
Our intensive personal development and the powerful catalyst of the outdoors helps people gain greater understanding with confidence in themselves and how they connect with others and the wider world leading to lasting positive change. Importantly individuals are more able to overcome setbacks and navigate ‘systems’, such as accessing benefits, securing and sustaining a suitable home and staying out of prison.
A former Venture Trust participant highlights the benefits of trying to divert individuals – where it is possible – away from prison. “Before Venture Trust I was on a one-way ticket to prison. I’m now a fully qualified plumber. My life’s changed for the better, I’m healthier, happier, thriving. I’ve got a career now, I can see a future.”
Lucy has also benefitted from Venture Trust’s community justice programmes. “Without that second chance and the support from Venture Trust and other organisations I wouldn’t be where I am today. That second chance allowed me to become part of society and my community again. It allowed me to repair broken relationships, get healthy, get an education and have hope. We’ve all made mistakes and if more people are given the support and opportunity to change, Scotland will be a better and safer place.”
Watch Lucy's Story by clicking on the image below:
Venture Trust is looking forward to continuing to work with the Scottish Government and our current partners along with building future partnerships to reduce the harm of crime by supporting people who have offended or are at risk of offending.
Read All About It.
It’s that time again! In this May edition of the Supporter Newsletter you will see just how busy everyone at Venture Trust has been over the last month.
From news articles, presentations to The Scottish Government and miles under the feet training for the Edinburgh Marathon Festival catch up on the latest happenings.
If want to be kept up to date about Venture Trust's activities sign up for our supporter newsletter on our website.
A new partnership between Venture Trust and The Wheatley Group (a leading social property management company), will support young Scottish people struggling to find and secure safe, stable and supported tenancies because of multiple complex barriers.
These can include unemployment, involvement in the criminal justice system, substance misuse, low self-belief, relationship breakdowns and mental health issues.
This partnership is made possible with funding from Comic Relief and will help support 120 young people who have previously, or are currently at risk of, experiencing homelessness.
Read Venture Trust CEO Amelia Morgan's article in The Scotsman about how the project will tackle homelessness by equipping individuals with core skills, building longer term stability and averting repeat or potential episodes of homelessness.
Individuals experiencing multiple, complex barriers in their lives, and struggling with chaotic lifestyles, are frequently the heaviest users of acute health and social care services. These barriers mean thousands of Scots are unable to reach their potential for healthy, happy and fulfilling lives.
In Scotland and the UK there is growing interest in a more holistic and integrated way of supporting individuals facing mental health issues, addiction, involvement with the criminal justice system, long term unemployment and other barriers. This support includes social prescription - helping people to access and use ‘non-medical’ sources of support within their community; harnessing the untapped potential of Scotland’s great outdoors; and integrating, non-clinical services and new partnerships to address these issues.
Venture Trust in partnership with our funders and other organisations is working to tackle the cycle of harm and inequality which drives individuals to become dependent on health and social services and leaves some people in the margins of society.
By offering intensive learning and development in communities and the Scottish wilderness, we support people to gain life skills, stability and confidence. Our work aims to end cycles of disadvantage and adversity for individuals, their families and in communities.
Our approach is unique with the wilderness being used as a catalyst for change. It has also proven to be preventative and long-term through independent evaluations. We focus on an individual’s strengths, equipping them with essential life-skills and building confidence.
Scotland's spectacular wild places are inherently challenging. These environments challenge individuals to focus on actions and their consequences - encouraging the discovery of new skills and talents and helping participants to become more self-reliant. The sense of space and the distance from everyday life gives individuals time to reflect on their lives and plan the changes they'd like to make. The therapeutic environment of the outdoors heightens the power of learning through the development work participants undertake.
Watch Jim's Story below
This week Venture Trust senior staff – head of business development Malcolm Jack and head of operations Mike Strang – met with Scottish Government staff in relevant Directorates to share our innovative approach which focuses on developing the life skills, stability and resilience individuals often need to overcome cycles of disadvantage and adversity.
Malcolm said: “In the context of heightened concern around mental health and wellbeing, particularly affecting those considered most vulnerable and disengaged from mainstream services, the presentation highlighted how Venture Trust’s work resonates the house of care principles in a practical way and contributes to cross-policy outcomes through person-centred support and partnership.”
It was also an opportunity to gain the perspectives of Government staff to inform Venture Trust’s aspirations to make a greater contribution to Scotland’s health & wellbeing outcomes, he said.
With an integrated and aligned approach that is person-centred, individuals can find stability and be self-reliant. They can prioritise their health, specifically their mental wellbeing and tackle alcohol or substance misuse. This will contribute to meeting Scottish Government policy objectives across departments including improving health and wellbeing, making Scotland a safer place through innovative justice, tackling homelessness, giving everyone access to public services and improving people's job prospects.
A Highland fling – A Venture Trust and British Exploring Society partnership
Scotland's spectacular wild places are inherently challenging. This setting - far removed from young peoples' everyday environments – will give a group of “Young Explorers” the chance to tackle physical, emotional and social challenges this week.
These challenges are carefully designed to encourage learning and development, to help participants increase their aspirations, confidence and motivation, and to develop a range of skills for life, learning and work.
The wilderness is at the heart of Venture Trust’s programmes of intensive personal development. This ethos and belief in the power of the outdoors is shared with British Exploring Society and has led to the historic charity teaming up with Venture Trust to deliver its first ever Scottish expedition with ‘UK Explorers’, after delivering expeditions across the globe for 87 years.
Both organisations deliver programmes which allow young people to begin to discover that there are strengths that they didn't think they had, aspects of their background and personality that they can draw on to solve problems whether traversing a high ropes course with Venture Trust, or practiced on a canoeing expedition with British Exploring Society. Other key skills include communication, time management, accountability, establishing trust, dealing with challenging situations, and giving and receiving feedback. Every aspect of the wilderness journey is designed with the introduction and development of these concepts in mind.
The Venture Trust approach aligns itself with British Exploring Society – an organisation that prepares and takes young people (between the ages of 14 and 25) on expeditions to remote locations where they face challenges, gain skills and learn about themselves. The transformative programmes have always included a strong focus on adventure, acquiring knowledge and personal development and impart a new-found confidence and self-belief which is carried forward in life.
Venture Trust operations manager Simon White said the partnership aims to help support British Exploring Society and its leaders in delivering great personal development journeys – as Venture Trust has been doing for more than 20 years.
“They have huge experience in delivering wilderness expeditions all around the world and many of them of five-week duration in remote and inhospitable places. We’re delighted that they want to add the knowledge and enthusiasm of Venture Trust to their expeditions,” Simon said.
“Ahead of British Exploring Society’s first Scottish expedition, Venture Trust delivered training to their leadership team for the UK Explorers programme. In addition, we have supported them with the logistics and planning. Collaboration between third sector partners can make a difference to the lives of young people. And it is a testament to Venture Trust that a respected charity like British Exploring Society – running since 1932 – recognises the value and skills we share.”
In keeping with all British Exploring Society programmes, whether in the Himalaya or the Amazon, 40 Young Explorers – working with 12 Leaders – have planned their own expedition and are completely self-sufficient in the remote and rugged Scottish Highlands. They will only have the equipment and supplies they carry on their backs and will need to plan their routes, their trekking objectives and their science projects to ensure they can collect water from streams for drinking and cooking and be able to locate remote campsites.
The collaboration between two organisations – both harnessing the transformative powers of the outdoors – means even more young people will benefit from acquiring and developing the skills to face life’s challenges head on.