We're fortunate that our supporters often direct us to articles and features they think we'll like. Now and again, those articles are so vital and so relevant to what we do that we just have to share them here. With thanks to @davidjhaines on Twitter, then, we'd like to share a BBC Viewpoint article entitled 'Escape from the Sink Estate', written by poet Byron Vincent.
Byron's article charts his own life path from 'scumbag' to 'middle class' ("I own a breadmaker now and everything"), along the way highlighting the factors and circumstances that led to his involvement in offending, his homeless and drug use. Most pertinently, he highlights how the local culture on the housing estate where he lived significantly shaped the choices he faced and the decisions he made.
"Those born into Britain's underclass don't exit the womb with an insatiable desire to shoplift branded sportswear, any more than soldiers are born with a heightened capacity to kill. Yet I watched pretty much all of my peers grow up to engage in sustained criminal activity. Not because of a genetic predisposition. Not because a life of crime is an easy option - it really isn't - but because the people with the worst social and economic problems have been ghettoised and isolated".
Byron's story would resonate with many of our participants, many of whom come from backgrounds where employment and stability isn't just rare, it's unthinkable - a different world of which they're simply not part. Part of our role, then, is to help people to widen their horizons, to see different futures for themselves, and to understand the skills and qualities they can bring to the world.
"The underclass of which I speak didn't create itself - it's a product of ghettoisation. Taking a bunch of people with social and fiscal problems and forcing them to live en masse together is an idiotic idea that is destined to create a culture of perpetually spiralling criminality. If we want the disenfranchised underclass to adopt the morality of the mainstream, social housing needs to be integrated into mainstream society. That means individual houses among the private residences. Social housing estates shouldn't be these separate isolated places that keep poor people out of sight and mind. That model is not only distasteful - it clearly breeds problems that affect everyone".
Byron's rationale about social housing aligns closely with our experience of imprisonment. For many, prison simply reinforces existing cultures and beliefs, and does little to change people's underlying goals for their future. For that, you need something more personal, more aspirational. More like Venture Trust, in fact.
Do go over to the BBC and read the whole of Byron Vincent's article, it's very important indeed.
The week of 10th-14th February 2014 saw the first time that the women of the 218 Centre had visited the beautiful Kinlochrannoch Lodge area of Scotland.
Despite the pending snowstorm the atmosphere was very welcoming and homely after breaking the (literal and metaphorical) 'ice'. After a social contract was agreed by the group, they all settled into a safe space with a hearty stew and mash and began to get to know each other. To get some fresh air after a good dinner we took a walk under the stars and moon to a local waterfall now known as 'alt na mandy'. It was really an awe inspiring start.
The next day course objectives and goals were set by all the women in support groups which were carried out each day. Then a forest walk was enjoyed along the shore of Kinloch Rannoch with some nature inspired by Tilly’s stories. There were also opportunities to get involved in group problem solving challenges in the forest.
Evening entertainment was along them of 'Come dine with me'. It got competitive but in a friendly way and let’s say food was the winner!
The next day despite a huge snowstorm the girls trekked out knee deep in snow to climb a cliff and then abseil back down. Tracey overcame her fear of heights and all the girls succeeded.
The final day we all awoke early to the best sunrise of winter over Shiehallion. Like the sunset all good things must come to an end but not before the girls had prepared a final action plan for their next steps...
There will always be another sunrise!
A special thanks to Becks & Bill from the 218 project - you are great people.
Good luck from all the staff at Venture Trust
Fantastic news this morning, with the announcement that the BIG Lottery Fund Scotland's 'Young Start' fund has donated £50,000 to Venture Trust. This donation will support the expansion of our Inspiring Young Futures programme to young people in the Highlands, where we know there's demand from young people and referrers.
Run by the Big Lottery Fund Scotland for the Scottish Government, Young Start awards money from dormant bank and building society accounts that have seen no customer activity for at least 15 years.
Venture Trust recieved the largest grant from this funding round, marking the continuation of our fantastic support fdrom the BIG Lottery Fund. Aileen Campbell, Minister for Children and Young People, said: "I've seen first-hand the difference that local initiatives are making to help young people reach their full potential, supported by our partnership with the Big Lottery Fund.
"This year I'm delighted that a wide variety of projects across Scotland have been successful in securing funding either from Young Start or from the Communities and Families Fund, which together are enabling communities to deliver the right kind of support needed to improve the lives of local children and families."
Maureen McGinn, chairwoman of the Big Lottery Fund Scotland committee, said: "I am delighted to announce this funding today. Through both Young Start and the Communities and Families Fund, we help ensure Scotland's next generation has the best possible start in life.
"The awards made today include playgroups and creches working with the very young right up to organisations supporting young people outside the education system.
"All of them make a huge difference by enabling children and young people to gain the abilities, skills and confidence required for positive and healthy futures."
We're thrilled by this news, and look forward to reporting our first ever intake of IYF participants in the Highlands!
At Venture Trust, we're delighted by the news that young people in care in Scotland are to be given greater rights to to continue their care placement until they reach 21.
From April 2015, the Children and Young People Bill will allow for teenagers in residential, foster or kinship care to remain looked after until the age of 21. This development marks a really positive step forward in supporting young people in care to reach positive futures, and as such we strongly welcome the news. The current system, which frequently sees young people leaving care aged 16 or 17, leaves them without the support networks they need to navigate their way to a positive future.
At Venture Trust, young people joining our Inspiring Young Futures programme are frequently addressing a range of challenges in their lives as they approach adulthood and independance. Whilst our support effectively helps young people to overcome the issues they face and work towards more positive futures, we know that consistent relationships and ongoing support networks are vital in enabling young people to reach their potential.
This breakthrough has long been championed by our friends and colleagues at Who Cares? Scotland, who are also asking people to pledge support to their pledge2listen campaign which aims to tackle the negative stereotypes which exist in communities up and down the country towards kids from care backgrounds.
This story has been widely covered by the BBC, if you'd like to read more.
A change for the best can offer new hope to some of our most disadvantaged youngsters, says Joe Connelly.
Last New Year, like many others, I promised myself I would make some changes in my life. I was determined to take up swimming more regularly, finally quit smoking for good, and make more time in my hectic schedule to spend quality time with my family. I’ve done well with the first and third of these goals, but have failed miserably with the second. This week, wondering whether I should just “give up and give in”, I turned to an unconventional source for advice and inspiration.
Let me explain. Over the past year, I have been privileged to meet literally hundreds of young people who vowed to change their lives and who have triumphantly, resoundingly, emphatically achieved their goals.
Last year, Sharon told me this: “I’ve had very dark thoughts, times when I’ve considered it might be better if I’m not here”. This year, she’s a prize-winning student at an Outdoor Education College, where she’s learning to share her skills to teach and inspire other young people.
Last Christmas, David was out of work, becoming increasingly despondent as he struggled to find an employer who would take him on. This Christmas, things look quite different: “I am no longer unemployed. After so long without a job, I’m really delighted to have been given a chance.”