Venture Trust, the charity that supports disadvantaged young people to make positive changes in their lives, has been awarded a crucial grant from The Big Lottery Fund to develop and enhance its Inspiring Young Futures programme.
The grant, totalling £690,000 over three years, will ensure that over 500 disengaged, vulnerable young people will be able to benefit from Venture Trust’s Inspiring Young Futures courses. The programme will also be part-funded by Inspiring Scotland, European Social Funds (ESF), the Scottish Government, local authorities and some UK trusts and foundations.
Inspiring Young Futures supports young people to learn life skills and achieve an SQA qualification. The programme includes an intensive 8-day wilderness journey in the Highlands where outdoor activity and experiential learning techniques are used as a mechanism for unlocking skills, building confidence and raising aspiration. Following this journey, the participants, aged between 16 and 25, will be given support to achieve their goals. For many this will result in gaining the skills to prepare them for employment, education, training or volunteering.
Amelia Morgan, Chief Executive at Venture Trust, commented, “The funding from the Big Lottery will be used to support 540 disengaged young people through Venture Trust’s existing Inspiring Young Futures (IYF) programme. This crucial grant will allow Venture Trust to reach those who are of a care experienced background, struggling with complex life circumstances such as homelessness, abuse, isolation, addiction, involvement with offending and sustained unemployment. Our experienced team of staff will assist the individuals to gain life skills, work-readiness, a sense of purpose, and to work towards making positive life changes.
As well as a catalytic wilderness phase where participants can focus on their development away from peer pressure and existing circumstances, there will be one-to-one support. This may result in the individual finding a home, kicking addiction, and in most cases, working towards, education, training, employment or volunteering.
For many people who find themselves at Venture Trust’s doors, it's because they have not been able to access or benefit from mainstream support. So this additional funding will enable us to focus on intensive life-skills development to help so many more young people to realise their potential.”
Paul (19) has been through the Inspiring Young Futures programme. He was referred in December 2014 from the Care Leavers Employability Service (CLES) Launchpad Programme, run by Glasgow City Council. Prior to this, he had completed 'Core Skills' qualifications at CLES, worked in a garage with his friend's dad and completed an 'Access to Motor Vehicles' course at Kilmarnock College. He had been living with carers in Pollokshields since May 2014, and before that had lived with other carers for nine years. He spoke fondly of this time saying that they often did outdoor activities together and that he still kept in contact with them.
Paul explained that he did not have contact with any of his family and that both of his brothers had died. This understandably has had a significant impact on him. He engaged well on a one to one basis with his Venture Trust Outreach Worker, and in these sessions began to identify his strengths and areas for development.
Paul said: “I’ve been trying to deal with my anger for years, so I met The Venture Trust at the best time. I wanted to learn to deal with my frustrations in ways that were less damaging to me. I hoped to increase my confidence levels when meeting and getting to know new people, as well as learn new practical skills when being outdoors. I absolutely loved that experience and learnt so much about myself.”
Paul attended and completed the wilderness journey in Feb 2015. With support, over the next few months Paul continued with his work placement at the car garage, with the aim of securing an apprenticeship. With the relevant funding secured Paul was offered a one year apprenticeship with the garage which began in January 2016. Paul is now making headway on his own, but has been made aware that he can always get in touch with his Venture Trust Outreach Worker for support. This article appeared on Employability in Scotland website. To read in full, please click here.
Click here for further details of our Inspiring Young Futures programme.
Leading provider of ‘alternative to custody’ programmes, Venture Trust speaks out against the current legislation for women in the prison system.
Joe Connelly, Head of Programmes at Venture Trust, explains, “There is evidence that custody, and the prison system does not serve to reform behaviour or keep individuals from reoffending. In fact in the case of women, there is evidence that it can have the opposite effect, often removing them from their children, and any remaining hope.
There is an increasingly popular school of thought that prison as a form of punishment is only appropriate for a small minority of high risk offenders. Alienating, stigmatising and incarcerating those who are often already in difficult life circumstances only exacerbates the problem, creating a downward spiral and a feeling of helplessness. For women especially, prison often leads to reoffending, separation from children, and very sadly, a high proportion of those children carrying on the cycle.”
Joe continues, “There is an alternative to custody, and even prosecution: organisations and charities, such as Venture Trust, run specific programmes aimed at rehabilitating offenders, helping them to gain the skills to make positive changes in their lives, and no longer rely on the court system as their only source of stability.
However, these programmes are not mandatory and are only used by some court services on a referral basis. The ultimate aim is that an alternative to custody, such as Venture Trust’s Next Steps programme, supported by The Big Lottery Fund, which is run in conjunction with criminal justice partner agencies, is used for all but a few high risk individuals.
The number of women in prison in Scotland has doubled in the past ten years*. Of those serving at Cornton Vale prison, 70% reoffended within two years. The drain on public resources is significant. This does not take into account the huge ongoing cost of homelessness, addiction, children taken into care, and a sustained reliance on benefits.
The estimated economic and social cost of reoffending over a 10-year period is, on average, over £75,000 per female offender. This is in stark contrast to £2,400 for a community payback order. The wilderness-based Next Steps programmes help participants to reduce the risk of reoffending, and move towards a positive future, potentially resulting in employment, training education or volunteering. If women offenders are given the opportunities and the skills to change their lives, something they typically would not have had access to before, then we might begin to reverse these staggering statistics.
It is a sad fact that the majority of women going through the criminal justice system hail from disadvantaged backgrounds, often suffering from a range of issues from abuse, addiction and a history of care experience. It is these underlying causes that Venture Trust seeks to address in its programmes, and this evidently goes some way to reducing the risk of reoffending.
However, we are in a criminal justice system that currently does not have a clear line of sight. Some areas refer women offenders to organisations such as Venture Trust instead of a prison sentence. Others make that referral instead of prosecution, which has greater benefit; others do not provide an alternative to custody at all. The service provided can be based on the relationship between individuals, upon funding or lack of, upon locally based agreements. There is no over-arching system that guides the process.
Justice Secretary Michael Mathieson, has the last word, announcing his vision for the future female custodial estate as being ‘for a small, high-end core national facility to be located on the current Cornton Vale site, supported by a number of community-based and community supported units located in key strategic areas around Scotland. Service delivery across all sites is expected to be multi-agency and reflective of local needs and priorities. That vision, to be realised by 2020.’
We are delighted to announce that Chartered Financial Planner at McCrea's Financial Services, Jonathan Campbell will be running the London Marathon for Venture Trust. McCreas has chosen Venture Trust as one of its nominated charities for 2016. To date the company has held a launch, and a race night which raised over £4,000.
Jonathan who spends his time during working hours with McCreas as a specialist adviser for pensions and investments has been in training since early January when he found out about his place.
He currently runs three times a week with a long run at the weekend and everyone in the McCreas office has had to endure the tales of woe and details on all the aches and pains along the way. It’s fair to say that with his longest run so far of 20 miles, there aren’t many of us that could keep up however so credit where it’s due!
We will all be cheering Jonathan on on Sunday and would like to thank McCreas for its continued support. You can support Jonathan - and Venture Trust - by donating here. To find out more about McCreas, please click here.
Venture Trust, the UK charity that specialises in supporting disadvantaged people struggling to cope with chaotic life circumstances, is to launch a specific programme to help veterans caught in the criminal justice system.
The Living Wild programme – funded by Scottish Government and a number of UK trusts and foundations– comprises a three phase approach with a wilderness journey at its core, and has been proven to significantly reduce reoffending. As a result of crucial grant funding from Armed Forces Covenant, Venture Trust will now run Living Wild programmes over the course of three years, specifically for veterans.
There are thousands of veterans leaving the military and struggling with the transition to civilian life. They find themselves unable to maintain relationships, function as part of a family, to adjust to new employment, to settle in to an independent life; often, this can lead to crime which then becomes a cycle that is impossible to break alone. That is where Venture Trust can help to bring about that change. Its Living Wild personal development programme has been established for some time and has demonstrated its worth in reducing reoffending, bringing about changes in challenging behaviour, and tackling issues such as long term unemployment and poor social skills. With the grant funding of £315,064 from Armed Forces Covenant, Venture Trust will be able to take almost 200 veterans through its Living Wild programme, working with referral partners to provide opportunities for employment, leading to a healthier and happier, more productive and stable life for veterans, and their families.
Venture Trust has over 30 years of experience of successfully working with people who face multiple barriers to living a balanced, healthy and safe life; that could be addiction, homelessness, isolation, abuse, long term unemployment, and a cycle of crime. Many of them face all of those barriers at once. The organisation uses its hugely successful wilderness journeys – taking participants out of their normal environment, away from the temptations and pressure of every-day life, away from technology, and into the wilds of nature. It is these journeys that provide participants with space to think, to see that there is opportunity, that they do have a choice, to gain life skills and to begin to hope. When they return home they receive support to make positive changes in their life.
Venture Trust also runs the Positive Futures programme (funded by Forces in Mind Trust – FiMT), which again is a veteran specific programme for those struggling with the transition to civilian life. This too is has a wilderness journey at its heart.
Amelia Morgan, Chief Executive of Venture Trust comments, “We have a lot of experience in supporting people in the criminal justice system to change their lives, stop offending, gain employment, learn new skills, gain sustainable homes and rebuild broken relationships.
We know that our programmes work as part of the rehabilitation process, and that people can often go on to live successful lives. This works for all kinds of people in the criminal justice system struggling to break that cycle.”
She continues, “What this funding from the Armed Services Covenant allows is the opportunity for us to provide that support specifically for veterans, men and women who have sacrificed so much already. We know that there is a need for this support, as we have found that a significant number of veterans have joined our programmes over the years, due to the other barriers they might be facing (addiction, unemployment, homelessness etc). To have something specifically for this group of people is crucial.”
The Living Wild programme comprises a three phase approach. In Phase One, Venture Trust works with referral partners to reach out to those most in need of help. When the individuals sign up to a Venture Trust programme, it is often their last resort, as an alternative to custody or a community payback order. Phase Two takes the form of a ten day wilderness journey in the Highlands of Scotland, where participants will develop new social skills, work towards behavioural changes and working on confidence and motivation, responsibility, cause and effect. If Phase Two provides the life-changing moments, the inspiration and the hope, then Phase Three is where it becomes reality. Each participant receives one-to-one support for up to 18 months to help achieve their goals; in this case, reducing reoffending, behavioural changes, improved social skills, and potential for employment, education, training and volunteering.
This news article appeared on Employability in Scotland website and newsletter. To read the article, click here
We are delighted that McCrea Financial Services have chosen to support Venture Trust during 2016!
McCreas Managing Director, Douglas McCrea said: “We commit time and resource to support the charities as something we strongly believe in. This year we are particularly pleased to work with a charity who recognise the benefits our beautiful Scottish Wilderness can bring to people as they learn new skills to build confidence and self-belief."
Douglas himself is no stranger to the outdoors and annually takes on a 'wilderness challenge', last year walking 81 miles along the Speyside Way for Glasgow Children's Hospital Charity. In recent years McCreas have raised more than £350,000 for various charities.
The year-long partnership started with a Race Night in Glasgow raising a fantastic £4,200! Jonathan Campbell, one of the advisers at McCreas will be running this year’s London Marathon for Venture Trust on Sunday 24th April. You can sponsor him (and the rest of the McCreas team) here http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/McCreaFS
McCrea Financial Services are also sponsors of Partick Thistle Football Club and we'd like to thank them for helping to launch the partnership.
We're looking forward to a action-packed year working with the team at McCreas, we've already heard rumours of walks, runs, trail-runs, cycles, Iron-men, baking and bbqing being organised for us and their other chosen charity for 2016 - Beatson Cancer Charity.