Lockdown’s lost services knock people off track
For people already in a difficult place and getting support to turn their lives around, this pandemic together with lockdown and isolation from family, friends and support services could knock them off track. Half of our clients worry that they face damaging social isolation.
Lockdown is vital for reducing the spread of infection, keeping us safe and avoiding overwhelming the NHS. No question it’s the right thing to do. But for people who were already facing personal challenges or suffering from the effects of poverty and inequality, lockdown means new problems to address.
Vital support disrupted
The effect of lockdown on the people we support has been not only to make their lives even harder but to disrupt the support they need. We are very conscious that for the people we help lockdown has the potential to knock them and their families even further off course.
At Venture Trust we work with people who want our help to turn their lives around and reach their full potential. They come to us already dealing with a range of issues such as poor mental health, lack of qualifications, substance misuse, or fractured family relationships. Sadly, many face not one but many of these challenges. Alongside our vital partners we help provide the support they need to get their lives back on track. We are part of a team of charities and government agencies providing a network of support for an individual.
Listening to people’s lockdown fears
One of the first things we did was to pick up the phone and ask the people we are supporting what they felt lockdown would mean for them. We spoke to 125 people in the first two weeks of lockdown and this is what we found:
48% were worried about social isolation negatively affecting them.
25% suffered from data poverty and worried they would struggle to access help online
33% worried that lockdown would aggravate their mental health problems. (Half of our participants already arrive with mental health issues).
16% were concerned about coping with addiction without access to support services.
Over 80% wanted to speak to their community worker at least once a week.
Concerns over the financial costs of isolation were also significant:
13% - over one in eight – were worried about their finances.
10% were worried about access to food.
15% were worried about how a prolonged period of lockdown will affect their chances of returning to work.
These findings will no doubt be mirrored across Scotland. The new reality of reduced social contact, self-isolation and disruption of services will have a disproportionate effect on people who were already struggling with complex life circumstances.
We need to change what we do to keep doing what we do
In response we have literally turned our services outside – in, moving from group-based personal development in Scotland’s wilderness and outdoors in communities to working with smart technology to reach those who need help most in their own homes. Our new support service is online, with all Venture Trust outreach and development staff providing tailored support by phone, video link or other digital means
Re-organising how we work was a team effort that involved everyone in Venture Trust pulling together to try something new. We know there will be a lot of organisations trying to adapt so here’s what we’ve learned throughout this process:
Put your beneficiaries first. Because we’d talked to people we knew what help they needed. But it still took effort to make sure we focused on these needs and not on what would be easier or less disruptive for us.
Moving quickly means letting go. One of the most inspiring aspects of this challenge has been seeing what can happen when you give staff the freedom to come up with their own solutions rather than trying to force change from the top down.
Keep talking. Letting people find their own adaptations works but the next step is to share them. Make sure everyone knows what’s happenign and what’s changing.
Admin is everything. Once you’ve got new ways of working, you need to make them part of your system. It doesn’t need to be complicated, but to get everyone on the same page quickly you will need new processes for handling these new ways of working – especially for sensitive information.
Look to the future. Some of these changes will be temporary, but some might stick. And even “temporary” could be longer than you think. Makes sure you’ll be able to properly report on what you’ve done, even if only for your own learning down the line.
This is a team effort
We are continuing to take new referrals as well as supporting our existing clients. Beyond that, we are already working alongside local and national government, the wider public sector, our partners in the charity sector and our funders and corporate partners to play our small part to help minimise the disruption lockdown brings to those who were already at risk of falling through the cracks.
We’d also love to hear from everyone else working through these issues. There’s a lot to learn and we’d be very happy to be part of a wider conversation about how Scotland’s third sector adapts to the challenges of coronavirus and lockdown.
For more details please visit: http://www.venturetrust.org.uk/be-well-be-connected-be-ready/
From Monday 23 March 2020, all Venture Trust support staff will be working with people offering tailored support by phone or digital platforms. Prior to the Coronavirus emergency, we were actively supporting 379 people. Our goal is to continue to support them and to help others.
We will use phone or digital contact channels to continue to check in with people, to provide personal development and wellbeing support, whilst getting their feedback on the types of help and support that might make the difference. We are also actively seeking support to combat ‘data poverty’ for people with limited means to buy airtime or who usually rely on public wi-fi.
The new reality of reduced social contact, self-isolation and disruption of services will have a disproportionate effect on people who were already in need of our support. We are using our expertise in personal development and coaching to support people, offering help with:
- Wellbeing – managing being at home, structure, routines and relationships with others.
- Dealing with social isolation – resilience and self-care, helpful resources. Signposting to local and national support and additional services.
- Personal development – we will continue to work on meta skills development, self-awareness and goal setting with additional support aimed at those looking for further training and progression to employment.
Ways of working
Today we have contacted all our delivery partners to update them and to confirm we are still supporting people and very happy to take new referrals. We will have a team of 27 personal development and employability skilled and experienced staff available and engaging with people.
More information on our support will be available online and via our usual phone numbers and contacts.
For referrals the contact form is available on our website here.
We will continually monitor the situation and provide regular updates via our website, social media and direct contact with partners.
We remain committed to adapting and developing our work to meet the changing needs of vulnerable people in a rapidly evolving environment. Working together with partners we would like share insights and contribution to solutions which help us all respond well and be resilient in recovery. Please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the growing impacts of coronavirus continue to affect more people across the UK, protecting the health and wellbeing of the people we support, and our staff, is our top priority.
In response to the latest developments announced on March 18 by the Scottish Government, Venture Trust is temporarily suspending all programmes in their current form, and in response to COVID-19, will deliver a different service, our dedicated and skilled staff will be offering bespoke support over phone or video platforms – whichever individuals can access.
Our priorities are to continue to support people as the most vulnerable members of our society in a way that is safe, helpful and in line with all Government advice and regulations.
- We will continue to take referrals from our partners with the aim of resuming normal operational procedures once the threat of coronavirus (COVID-19) has passed and we are given the all clear to resume our face-to-face work supporting those in need.
- From Monday 23 March, we are pausing all face-to-face contact between our staff and participants until further notice from government and health authorities.
- Our staff will check in with people, provide personal development and wellbeing support, whilst getting their feedback on the types of help and support that might make the difference. We will use phone, messaging and other digital media to build relationships.
- We will be offering and delivering specific support for people around coronavirus and self-isolation and a significant change of usual routine.
- You will still be able to get in touch with the Venture Trust team by phone or email during business hours.
Our social media channels will be regularly updated, so please check our Facebook, Twitter and website pages for further news. Scottish Government information about COVID-19 (coronavirus) can be found here.
We will also keep our policies under constant review and update with relevant Government advice.
Venture Trust has been awarded an £10,000 grant from the Scottish Children’s Lottery to support its work with young people.
The grant from the Scottish Children’s Lottery will help fund two Outreach Workers in the West of Scotland supporting young people referred to our programmes. Our programmes of personal development reach young people in Glasgow, Inverclyde, North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire, Forth Valley, Edinburgh & the Lothians and Dundee who are living in complex and chaotic situations.
Outreach Workers have wide-ranging experience, professional training and qualifications in youth work and counselling as well as working with vulnerable people including in social care, custodial care, community justice and behavioural therapy.
Through one-to-one support and intensive personal development, they help young people reflect on the changes they would like to make to their lives, and help them unlock their confidence, motivation and life skills.
Amelia Morgan, chief executive at Venture Trust, said: “We are extremely grateful for the funding from the Scottish Children’s Lottery, which will be used to support young people in Scotland’s west.
"The grant will allow us to reach those who are struggling with chaotic life circumstances such as homelessness, abuse, isolation, substance misuse and involvement in the criminal justice system.
"Our experienced team of staff will assist them to gain life skills, work-readiness, a sense of purpose and to work towards making positive life changes.”
The Scottish Children's Lottery was launched in October 2016 to raise money for children in Scotland, with proceeds helping to improve the lives of children right across the country and make a real difference to those who need it most.
Chance to Succeed operates as a society lottery under the Scottish Children’s Lottery and supports projects that focus on employability and employment skills, helping to deliver a productive future for our young people.
Ken Barclay who is Chair of Trustees for the Scottish Children’s Lottery said: “I am delighted that we have been able to provide funding to support young people on your programmes from the monies generated from the Scottish Children’s Lottery which was established to promote and support the development and potential of children and young people in Scotland.
"Thank you to those who play the Scottish Children’s Lottery; you are helping to support the great work that our charities undertake.”
British middle-distance champion Laura Muir dropped in to meet a group of young people from Venture Trust’s Inspiring Young Futures programme as part of Sport Relief 2020.
Sport has the amazing power to challenge and motivate people to see themselves differently and aspire to a better life.
At Venture Trust – with funding from Comic Relief – we are using the power of sport and outdoor activities, alongside intensive personal development, to help young people reach their potential.
The programme is for 16-25-year-olds whose chaotic backgrounds have led to them experience many complex issues. These include homelessness or being at risk of homelessness, long term unemployment, involvement in criminal justice systems, substance misuse, low self-belief, relationship breakdowns and mental health issues.
We know that having and sustaining a safe, stable and secure place to live is vital for people to overcome many of the other barriers they are facing. Our own research shows of those presenting as homeless across our programmes 59 per cent have been previously convicted, 58 per cent have mental health issues and 52 per cent have substance misuse issues.
The Inspiring Young Futures programme combines intensive and sustained support in a young person’s community with time and activities in Scotland’s wild places. It is designed to equip participants with core skills, to build longer term stability and avert repeat or potential episodes of homelessness. This will help them to overcome the other challenges they are dealing with.
For many young people this is their first time in the outdoors or away from the pressures of everyday life. The excitement of experiencing and achieving something completely new, is motivational, enabling them to reflect, plan and make meaningful life changes.
Adventure activities in a wilderness setting is a catalyst for change. In an unfamiliar setting, young people must rely on each other, build trust and develop strong positive relationships. Every activity is specifically designed to help them work towards their personal development. Hiking and abseiling encourage the overcoming of fear and anxiety, it builds trust and encourages the giving and receiving of feedback within the group. Canoeing allows participants to take responsibility for their boats and safety while working effectively in a group or team to navigate lochs and rivers.
Following her visit, Laura said: “It was an absolute honour for me to visit Venture Trust in support of Sport Relief. I witnessed first-hand the amazing work this organisation is doing for communities and young people in Edinburgh. I have grown up with Sport Relief and it’s great to see the work it helps to make possible.”
Venture Trust chief executive officer Amelia Morgan said: “It was brilliant to have Laura take time from her Tokyo 2020 preparations to meet some of the young people we support. Her achievements and determination to pursue her dreams will inspire our participants to reach their potential.
“We want everyone to enjoy better mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. With support from partners like Comic Relief, tackling social isolation, the underlying causes of alcohol or drug misuse or the stress of living in poor quality, temporary or insecure housing, is possible.”
Together with Comic Relief, we are working for a more equal and fairer Scotland for young people. We want to ensure they have a safe place to be, they can survive and thrive, that fear, violence and discrimination in their lives is reduced and to improve their mental health.