Scottish Veterans Minister Graeme Dey has met with participants of Venture Trust’s Positive Futures programme at the organisation’s Head Office in Edinburgh, to hear how the scheme has helped them to make sustained positive change.
The meeting provided an opportunity for the veterans to discuss their experiences on the Positive Futures programme, and the impact it has had on their lives. It was also an opportunity for them to speak to Mr Dey about what is being undertaken Scotland-wide to support the small but significant number of ex-service personnel struggling with the transition to civilian life.
Positive Futures, funded by LIBOR (UK Government), comprises a three phase programme, including one-to-one and group work, and an intensive 7-day journey in Scotland’s wilderness, where outdoor activity and experiential learning techniques are used as a mechanism for unlocking and redeploying skills, building confidence and raising aspiration. Following this journey, the participants, of all ages and length of service, are given support to achieve their goals. For many this will result in utilising the skills learnt in service, applying them to prepare for employment, education, training or volunteering.
These veterans are on their way to reaching positive destinations, working towards managing what can be very challenging life circumstances as a result of leaving the military behind. Their struggle to adapt to civilian life can often lead to homelessness, isolation, addiction, abuse, breakdown of family relations, and long term unemployment.
The programme creates a therapeutic environment where those participants with mental health issues (frequently part of a complex presenting set) can identify behaviour triggers and develop, and practice, coping strategies as a foundation for making and sustaining positive life changes.
The event took place at Venture Trust’s head office in Edinburgh on 15 November. Mr Dey visited the office 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 our ex-service personnel. Mr Dey then met with the participants and talked to them about their own personal stories and experiences with Venture Trust.
Amelia Morgan, Chief Executive Officer at Venture Trust, comments, “We were delighted that Mr Dey met with us, which sent a really positive message of support to our participants – for those past, and those about to head out on the next Positive Futures journey. For all of those leaving the military, it marks a complete change. Most of those thrive, going on to have successful careers and balanced lives. But for a small minority the transition to civilian life can be overwhelming and confusing which can lead to a multitude of negative circumstances. The Positive Futures programme offers ex-service personnel the support and space to begin to see themselves differently – that they can have a different life.”
Mr Dey said: “I was very pleased to have the opportunity to visit Venture Trust and learn more about their Positive Futures programme, and also to hear first-hand from those who are benefiting from it.
This is an excellent example of a charity offering support to our ex-service men and women by helping them learn new skills, regain their independence and to make positive changes in their lives.”
Venture Trust’s Positive Futures programme has just won the Institute for Outdoor Learning Supporting Health and Wellbeing Project Award. The award was for Venture Trust's work in the outdoors, and recognises schemes that are making a difference to individual and community quality of life.
For the past three years Positive Futures was funded by a grant of £689,453 from the Forces in Mind Trust. Over the course of the three years, an independent evaluation was undertaken and the results were released in November 2018. The report, commissioned by GAP Communications, highlights the significant improvement to participants’ lives while also being cost-effective and high value for money. The programme has delivered overall benefit impacts to society in the region of £2.6m to £4m; for every £1 spent, £4.56 of societal benefit impact has been generated.
For further details of the Venture Trust’s Positive Futures programme, visit: http://www.venturetrust.org.uk/programmes/positive-futures-programme/
Venture Trust’s Positive Futures programme has won the Institute for Outdoor Learning Supporting Health and Wellbeing Project Award.
The Institute for Outdoor Learning (IOL) is the professional body for organisations and individuals who use the outdoors to make a difference for others.
The award was for Venture Trust's work in the outdoors for the Positive Futures programme and recognises schemes that are making a difference to individual and community quality of life.
The Positive Futures Model is a combination of cognitive behavioural approaches, experiential learning, skilled facilitation, relationship building, coaching, mentoring and aftercare. It is delivered through a three-phased programme in the community and in the wilds of Scotland.
Phase one involves community-based support for the individual with an outreach worker to set initial goals, work towards the removal of barriers, stabilise lifestyle, prepare for the wilderness journey along with facilitating the engagement with other services.
Phase two is a seven-day journey in the Scottish wilderness giving veterans – who have spent any length of time in the military – time and space away from daily pressures. It also involves wilderness problem solving challenges, development and review sessions, one-to-one support, group activities, communal living and healthy meal planning and eating.
Phase three builds on the wilderness journey and leads onto professional and peer mentoring, employability opportunities and brokering links to jobs, training, education, volunteering and other services relevant to individual need.
The judges were looking for evidence of: problem diagnosis and a well-developed understanding of the necessary intervention; the underlying methodology and theory of change that shapes provision, and; effective partnerships with health and social welfare professionals.
Faced with a future of increasing obesity, mental health concerns and suicide in the population, well designed and facilitated outdoor learning interventions can provide much needed respite or restorative benefits.
For the past three years Positive Futures has been funded by a grant of £689,453 from the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT). The programme creates a therapeutic environment where those participants with mental health issues (frequently part of a complex presenting set) can identify behaviour triggers, and develop - and practice - coping strategies as a foundation for making and sustaining positive life changes.
An independent report released by GAP Communications this week highlights the significant improvement to participants’ lives while also being cost-effective and high value for money. The programme has delivered overall benefit impacts to society in the region of £2.6m to £4m; for every £1 spent, £4.56 of societal benefit impact has been generated.
Organisations referring veterans to the programme have stated: “The service appeals to ex-service personnel who refuse to engage with therapeutic programmes but who will engage with an outdoors programme.”
In the last round of LIBOR grants, Venture Trust was awarded £699,384. This grant from the UK Government will enable the support of 180 more former service personnel and extends the programme until 2021.
Venture Trust chief executive Amelia Morgan said: “The demanding nature of the outdoors and the wilderness, combined with one-to-one support and group activities, presents participants with emotional, social and physical challenges. These challenges are all designed to enable individuals to develop more positive and productive attitudes and behaviours. The wilderness journey is often the most intensive phase of our programmes, but one which generates a huge sense of achievement, and allows our participants to work with our outreach team to build towards a more sustainable and balanced future.”
In addition to FiMT, the Big Lottery Fund and the Armed Forces Covenant, the Scottish Government, European Social Funds, Edinburgh City Council, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and several trusts and foundations have all contributed financially to service delivery and development over a number of years particularly for individuals caught up in the community justice system.
For more information about Venture Trust and our programmes visit: www.venturetrust.org.uk
A programme for Veterans – centred on the Scottish wilderness –has made significant improvement to participants’ lives while also being cost-effective and high value for money, new research has highlighted. The programme has delivered overall benefit impacts to society in the region of £2.6m to £4m; for every £1 spent, £4.56 of societal benefit impact has been generated.
Venture Trust’s Positive Futures Model is a combination of cognitive behavioural approaches, experiential learning, skilled facilitation, relationship building, coaching, mentoring and aftercare. It is delivered through a three-phased programme in the community and in the wilds of Scotland.
Positive Futures has been independently evaluated by GAP Communications for the past three years. During that time Venture Trust has supported 90 veterans and the programme has the potential to support hundreds more in the coming years.
Some of the key research findings from GAP Communications’ evaluation include:
- 0% of ex-Service personnel who participated in Positive Futures have re-offended following the programme.
- 43% of participants have since entered into employment, education or training.
- Over a third (34%) of participants who were homeless or in insecure accommodation are now sustaining their own tenancy.
- Improved mental health for participants has led to more openness with family members and calmer, happier households.
- The overall benefit impact to society through a) reduction in interactions with state services (reduced costs) and b) moving into the workplace (tax gains) or volunteering is calculated to be over £2m. The average benefit impact is over £45k per person.
- The programme has delivered overall benefit impacts to society in the region of £2.6m to £4m; for every £1 spent, £4.56 of societal benefit impact has been generated.
- The model, if replicated, would work with veterans needing support in other parts of the UK.
Referrers have said the service appeals to ex-servicemen and women who refuse to engage with therapeutic programmes but who will engage with an outdoors programme.
Positive Futures was funded by a grant of £689,453 from the Forces in Mind Trust. The programme creates a therapeutic environment where those participants with mental health issues (frequently part of a complex presenting set) can identify behaviour triggers and develop, and practice, coping strategies as a foundation for making and sustaining positive life changes.
Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said: “The funding for the Positive Futures programme is the largest grant awarded to date by the Forces in Mind Trust. The measure of its success will be the lasting change that it brings to those who undergo the experience.
“The Report provides evidence of a model that can be used to help some of the most challenged ex-Service personnel make a successful and sustainable transition into civilian life. This proven effective model should be expanded so that every ex-Service man and woman across the United Kingdom who needs it, can easily access and gain benefit from it.”
Venture Trust chief executive Amelia Morgan said: “We are delighted to share the findings of the Positive Futures programme and its impact for ex-servicemen and women who may have struggled in civilian life. This work represents three years of collaboration to reach those individuals in need and a shared goal of sustained positive change to ensure a civilian life which is fuller, with improved wellbeing and a renewed sense of purpose. We hope that the proof of concept that is Positive Futures and the research findings offer fresh insight and recommendations to enhance support for individuals who struggle with transition. We are hugely grateful to FiMT, the Armed Forces Covenant, partners in Scotland and particularly the ex-service men and women who took part in the programme.”
The report also contains some recommendations for the Veterans’ support sector:
- Sustain and replicate the methodology of the programme through continued investment and effective marketing to ex-Service personnel and also their families.
- Find ‘hidden veterans’ through the collection and sharing of data between services and develop more rigorous enquiries regarding Armed Forces history.
- Higher levels of inter-agency co-operation and partnership across the military and non-military services’ sectors.
- The Armed Forces look at introducing, based on the markers identified in the research, a mechanism to identify, and monitor those at risk of poor transition from point of application and throughout an individual’s career.
You can read the full report here.
Or the impact brief here.
For more information about Venture Trust's work with ex-Service personal visit our Positive Futures programme.
For more infprmation about the Forces in Mind Trust visit: www.fim-trust.org
In and out of care as a child, James’ life in his own words was “chaotic” and “unstable”.
His education suffered as he struggled at school, his relationship with his family was turbulent, he committed several low-level offences and at times his behaviour was out of control.
From care experience, James found himself in a hostel for young people where instability and uncertainty were still part of his everyday life. Dreams and aspirations were buried beneath stress, anxiety and depression. “It was really hard to see any kind of future the way my life was going,” he said. “My life was kind of a nightmare.” His confidence was at rock bottom and he had “no hope”.
The issues faced by James – such as lack of stability, poor educational attainment and negative social or family relationships – are identified as some of the reasons care experienced young people experience poorer life outcomes than their non-care counterparts. These include: worse mental health and physical well-being, poorer access to continuing education or training, greater unemployment and homelessness, and an increased likelihood of involvement in or exposure to criminal activity1.
James was still a teenager when he made the transition out of the care system and into supported accommodation. It was a difficult time and one for which he did not have much preparation for. In contrast most, young people move towards independence gradually, and with ongoing support from family and friends.
This is where Venture Trust works with its partners – such as Who Cares? Scotland, Move On, and Life Changes Trust – to support young people as they move beyond their initial transition out of the care system and into young adulthood.
Many have experienced family life where unemployment, drug and alcohol misuse or violence is part of their everyday experience - making it hard to get into mainstream education or work. Venture Trust delivers intensive needs-led personal development in communities and the Scottish wilderness. Young people are supported to gain the life skills, stability and confidence to become more employable or more stable, raise aspirations, and change behaviours.
“When I was living in the hostel I never looked ahead,” James said. “I had no confidence or motivation and I was struggling to see a good life for myself.”
When life was at this low point, James was introduced to Venture Trust and the Inspiring Young Futures programme funded by The Big Lottery Fund, Inspiring Scotland, the Scottish Government and European Social Fund. Independent research shows nearly 25 per cent of young people Venture Trust supports on this programme are care experienced.
James worked with an Outreach Worker in the community building up the skills he would need to then take part in a wilderness journey. He learnt to control his emotions along with his thinking and decision-making processes.
“They never pushed you. It was always working at my pace and in a way that I never felt any pressure,” he said.
It was freezing and wet at times as James and the rest of his group hiked and camped in the ancient forest along the shores of Loch Rannoch. They were out in the Scottish wilderness as the ‘Beast from the East’ weather bomb lashed the UK. The demanding nature of the wilderness presents participants with emotional, social and physical challenges. These challenges are all designed to enable them to develop more positive and productive attitudes and behaviours.
“It was tough but I loved it. We did activities that taught us to deal with the challenges and make decisions under stressful situations. We were shown how to work through problems, communicate and work together,” James said.
The shy young man who was lacking in confidence and battled with anxiety and anger returned from the frozen wilds “the same person but different”. “I felt more confident and motivated. I felt like I could do things I never thought I could. I have also learnt to control the way I deal with things. If things didn’t work out I would go into a rage. Now I go through the processes I was shown.”
Following his engagement with the Inspiring Young Futures programme, James felt he was ready to continue to take the next steps towards a better future. He decided to take part in one of Venture Trust’s employability programmes – the CashBack Change Cycle programme.
The programme is funded by CashBack For Communities and includes employability sessions, bike construction and maintenance with workshop experience, and a short wilderness residential that has work-related tasks, and mountain biking. Participants learn about responsibility and getting up to be at a job Monday to Friday. They get to keep the bike they have built and use it for job hunting, accessing services, training, getting to work, and leisure.
Young people in care are just like all other young people but undeniably face greater challenges. Advocacy work by such organisations as Who Cares? Scotland and Life Changes Trust is ensuring the care system is improving but it is still a sad fact that life outcomes for care experienced young people can be much poorer than their non-care peers.
Venture Trust and our partners believe all young people should have the opportunities to succeed.
“I am in a really good place right now. Since working with Venture Trust I have come from a place where I couldn’t see a future. Getting a job or going to college was something I never thought was possible. Now I am working towards applying for college. I now have the confidence and motivation and belief that this is possible.”
For more information about Venture Trust visit our website: www.venturetrust.org.uk
Venture Trust’s programme for ex-service personnel featured in The Scotsman
The article highlighted how Venture Trust is enabling 'hidden' veterans to access support services and is filling a gap for ex-servicemen and women with its unique three-phase programmes.
With over 50 veterans’ organisations in Scotland alone, there is no shortage of services being offered to veterans after they leave the Armed Forces. These services typically support veterans who are older people, have been wounded or are suffering from recognised mental health issues along with those struggling with the transition to civilian life. However, research findings emerging from Scottish charity Venture Trust and insights from the organisation’s work with ex-servicemen and women has highlighted there is a small but significant group of struggling working-age veterans who are not accessing existing support services. These are the ‘hidden veterans’.
An independent study of Venture Trust’s programme specifically for veterans struggling with civilian life – Positive Futures – highlighted that ex-servicemen and women who did not take part in a tour of duty, face active combat or were Early Service Leavers (ESLs) showed reservations about engaging with veterans support services.
There are multiple reasons why some veterans end up ‘hidden’. However, it is vital that organisations collaborate to find and support those falling through the cracks. Reaching them, engaging them and helping them overcome their struggles is hugely important to the individuals, to their families and to society as whole.
Read the article: ‘Hidden’ veterans must not be allowed to fall through the cracks
The programme to date and the research - to be officially launched at an exclusive event on November 6th - has been funded for the past three years by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), a £35 million funding scheme run by FiMT using an endowment awarded by the Big Lottery Fund.
With the FiMT grant coming to an end at the end of September 2018, Venture Trust secured a £699,384 LIBOR funding grant. The grant from the UK Government will enable Venture Trust to support even more former servicemen and women and extends the programme until 2021.
Funding from the Armed Forces Covenant also supports our work with ex-service personnel caught up in the Scottish community justice system. The European Social Fund also provides funding for our core programmes.
For more information about Venture Trust's programme for ex-service personnel visit: Positive Futures