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.
This International Women’s Day, we will be celebrating the achievements and inspiring journeys of the women we support on our programmes and our female staff working in our offices, Scottish communities and wild places of Scotland.
This year on March 8 the theme is “An equal world is an enabled world”.
We are proud to be led by a female CEO, we have women in leadership and management positions across our departments including outdoor training, community outreach, administration and board.
Through our programmes of personal development supporting women of all ages struggling with issues such as long-term unemployment, recovery from addiction, homelessness, isolation, involvement in the criminal justice system in Scotland, and a history of trauma or harm, we are challenging inequality for individuals and their communities.
As an organisation we are also challenging stereotypes, fighting bias, broadening perceptions, improving situations and celebrating women's achievements.
Here are some of the stories from the amazing women we have supported to realise or rediscover their unshakable strength, a voice that deserves to be heard, and power.
Lucy spent ten years addicted to heroin. during this time, she was also convicted of theft and lost her son to care. Her life had hit rock bottom.
Today Lucy is completing a college course and looking to go to university. She is drug free and out of the criminal justice system. And she has access to her son.
Read More: Lucy’s story
Annabelle’s alcohol addiction took her to many dark places: attempted suicide, psychiatric care, hurt family and friends, and her two daughters taken away.
Today Annabelle has her girls back, they have moved into a beautiful home. She has the respect of family and friends, a job that she loves and she is happy and healthy.
Read more: Annabelle’s story
The Scottish Government has released the Criminal Justice Social Work statistics in Scotland: 2018-19
Here is our response to the report.
Commitment to community justice
Venture Trust welcomes the Scottish Government’s commitment to community justice and believes that it has a big role to play in making Scotland’s communities safer. To make it work effectively the third sector, the courts, and local and national governments need to work together to create a system that is robust, reliable and provides the right level of supervision and support to those on orders. That is partly about making sure there are enough places on community justice programmes to meet demand; it is also about making community sentencing an integral part of our justice system in the same way that prison sentencing is.
It’s About Smart Justice. Not Soft Justice
Community justice does work better than short sentences at preventing re-offending, but it needs to be treated as an equal partner: not just in terms of getting the resources it needs but as an integral part of the system that the courts can rely on when passing sentence. Particularly when dealing with people with more severe problems, getting the right expertise in place is crucial to making the system work. This means investing in specialist providers, but also in ensuring that the system is set up to allow the collaboration and integration between services that will ensure people get the right level of supervision and intervention.
Problem: Short prison sentences don’t rehabilitate
Short prison sentences are enough to disrupt employment, medical care, housing and family relationships, but not long enough to tackle the underlying causes of offending behaviour. People jailed for a few months come back out even further from finding a route out of crime than they were when they went in.
We know that many of the people we work with through the criminal justice system have lived through deprivation: poor education, poverty, substance misuse, poor family relationships and mental health issues are all too frequent among our clients. Growing up in poverty, in care, or in traumatic circumstances doesn’t directly equate to ending up in court but these experiences do influence people’s lives negatively, often leaving them isolated from their communities, surrounded by negative influences and feeling unable to take part in society.
Solution: Rehabilitation through personal responsibility, self-confidence and chance of positive role in society
Our work challenges people on criminal justice orders to confront the attitudes and behaviours that have got them here and gives them the capability and motivation to leave that behind and take responsibility for building a better future for themselves and their families.
Through a combination of work in the community and an intense wilderness expedition, we help clients reflect on the choices they make and how these will affect both themselves and others. This is not the easy option and it does not let people off lightly. But unlike a short sentence in prison, we show people new ways to cope with stress and confrontation that help them avoid re-offending.
The best way to steer someone away from crime is to empower them with the tools and skills to make better decisions and to show them that they do have a positive part to play in their community. Building positive relationships, getting away from negative influences, getting ready to get and hold on to a job, and just believing in themselves have a huge impact on people’s desire to build a better life.
Community justice does create safer communities, does break the cycle of offending and does reduce the social harm and financial costs of crime for individuals, families and communities.
Venture Trust’s employability team is launching a series of sessions in Glasgow to further support people get into work, training, education and volunteering.
Employability officer Chelsea Hill said this was part of the sustained support for the organisation’s participants.
“We are offering all Venture Trust participants to drop in to one of our 'Job Clubs' every Wednesday for additional support. We’re providing support and guidance with finding work as well as helping participants apply for jobs, access training, education and volunteering opportunities.
“We’ll also be offering various seminars on things like CV writing, interview techniques, disclosing convictions and more.”
Venture Trust has been leading the way on intensive personal development programmes for people, at any stage in their life, struggling with issues such as long term unemployment, recovery from addiction, homelessness, isolation, involvement in the criminal justice system in Scotland, and a history of trauma or harm.
After completing one of our core programmes data shows 75% of participants have improved their employability skills and 80% have increased confidence.
We also offer a specialised employability programme for young people facing hardship and disadvantage in Scotland who have completed one of our programmes or meet the criteria for direct referral.
The Cashback Change Cycle programme has proven to be successful in providing a pathway into work, study or training.
In the first two years of the programme Venture Trust has worked across 17 Scottish local authorities and engaged 116 young people facing complex life challenges. Of the participants who completed the programme, 94% of participants have reported an increase in skills, 98% participants have achieved accredited learning and 65% of participants have moved into positive destinations including employment, education and training.
However, for some of our participants further support may be needed. This is where the Job Club will make a difference.
“These seminars are designed to target specific areas that we have identified as potential barriers that individuals are facing – from lack of a CV, ineffective job search skills, inexperience with interview techniques, to how they handle disclosing their convictions,” Chelsea said.
The Employability Team is also looking to establish Edinburgh based sessions in the near future.
If you are a current Venture Trust participant in Phase 3 of our core programmes or completed our employability programmes such as Change Cycle or Venture Together and are looking for extra support getting into work, education or training speak to your Outreach Worker or get in touch with the Employability Team at firstname.lastname@example.org