A new partnership between Venture Trust and The Wheatley Group (a leading social property management company), will support young Scottish people struggling to find and secure safe, stable and supported tenancies because of multiple complex barriers.
These can include unemployment, involvement in the criminal justice system, substance misuse, low self-belief, relationship breakdowns and mental health issues.
This partnership is made possible with funding from Comic Relief and will help support 120 young people who have previously, or are currently at risk of, experiencing homelessness.
Read Venture Trust CEO Amelia Morgan's article in The Scotsman about how the project will tackle homelessness by equipping individuals with core skills, building longer term stability and averting repeat or potential episodes of homelessness.
Individuals experiencing multiple, complex barriers in their lives, and struggling with chaotic lifestyles, are frequently the heaviest users of acute health and social care services. These barriers mean thousands of Scots are unable to reach their potential for healthy, happy and fulfilling lives.
In Scotland and the UK there is growing interest in a more holistic and integrated way of supporting individuals facing mental health issues, addiction, involvement with the criminal justice system, long term unemployment and other barriers. This support includes social prescription - helping people to access and use ‘non-medical’ sources of support within their community; harnessing the untapped potential of Scotland’s great outdoors; and integrating, non-clinical services and new partnerships to address these issues.
Venture Trust in partnership with our funders and other organisations is working to tackle the cycle of harm and inequality which drives individuals to become dependent on health and social services and leaves some people in the margins of society.
By offering intensive learning and development in communities and the Scottish wilderness, we support people to gain life skills, stability and confidence. Our work aims to end cycles of disadvantage and adversity for individuals, their families and in communities.
Our approach is unique with the wilderness being used as a catalyst for change. It has also proven to be preventative and long-term through independent evaluations. We focus on an individual’s strengths, equipping them with essential life-skills and building confidence.
Scotland's spectacular wild places are inherently challenging. These environments challenge individuals to focus on actions and their consequences - encouraging the discovery of new skills and talents and helping participants to become more self-reliant. The sense of space and the distance from everyday life gives individuals time to reflect on their lives and plan the changes they'd like to make. The therapeutic environment of the outdoors heightens the power of learning through the development work participants undertake.
Watch Jim's Story below
This week Venture Trust senior staff – head of business development Malcolm Jack and head of operations Mike Strang – met with Scottish Government staff in relevant Directorates to share our innovative approach which focuses on developing the life skills, stability and resilience individuals often need to overcome cycles of disadvantage and adversity.
Malcolm said: “In the context of heightened concern around mental health and wellbeing, particularly affecting those considered most vulnerable and disengaged from mainstream services, the presentation highlighted how Venture Trust’s work resonates the house of care principles in a practical way and contributes to cross-policy outcomes through person-centred support and partnership.”
It was also an opportunity to gain the perspectives of Government staff to inform Venture Trust’s aspirations to make a greater contribution to Scotland’s health & wellbeing outcomes, he said.
With an integrated and aligned approach that is person-centred, individuals can find stability and be self-reliant. They can prioritise their health, specifically their mental wellbeing and tackle alcohol or substance misuse. This will contribute to meeting Scottish Government policy objectives across departments including improving health and wellbeing, making Scotland a safer place through innovative justice, tackling homelessness, giving everyone access to public services and improving people's job prospects.
A Highland fling – A Venture Trust and British Exploring Society partnership
Scotland's spectacular wild places are inherently challenging. This setting - far removed from young peoples' everyday environments – will give a group of “Young Explorers” the chance to tackle physical, emotional and social challenges this week.
These challenges are carefully designed to encourage learning and development, to help participants increase their aspirations, confidence and motivation, and to develop a range of skills for life, learning and work.
The wilderness is at the heart of Venture Trust’s programmes of intensive personal development. This ethos and belief in the power of the outdoors is shared with British Exploring Society and has led to the historic charity teaming up with Venture Trust to deliver its first ever Scottish expedition with ‘UK Explorers’, after delivering expeditions across the globe for 87 years.
Both organisations deliver programmes which allow young people to begin to discover that there are strengths that they didn't think they had, aspects of their background and personality that they can draw on to solve problems whether traversing a high ropes course with Venture Trust, or practiced on a canoeing expedition with British Exploring Society. Other key skills include communication, time management, accountability, establishing trust, dealing with challenging situations, and giving and receiving feedback. Every aspect of the wilderness journey is designed with the introduction and development of these concepts in mind.
The Venture Trust approach aligns itself with British Exploring Society – an organisation that prepares and takes young people (between the ages of 14 and 25) on expeditions to remote locations where they face challenges, gain skills and learn about themselves. The transformative programmes have always included a strong focus on adventure, acquiring knowledge and personal development and impart a new-found confidence and self-belief which is carried forward in life.
Venture Trust operations manager Simon White said the partnership aims to help support British Exploring Society and its leaders in delivering great personal development journeys – as Venture Trust has been doing for more than 20 years.
“They have huge experience in delivering wilderness expeditions all around the world and many of them of five-week duration in remote and inhospitable places. We’re delighted that they want to add the knowledge and enthusiasm of Venture Trust to their expeditions,” Simon said.
“Ahead of British Exploring Society’s first Scottish expedition, Venture Trust delivered training to their leadership team for the UK Explorers programme. In addition, we have supported them with the logistics and planning. Collaboration between third sector partners can make a difference to the lives of young people. And it is a testament to Venture Trust that a respected charity like British Exploring Society – running since 1932 – recognises the value and skills we share.”
In keeping with all British Exploring Society programmes, whether in the Himalaya or the Amazon, 40 Young Explorers – working with 12 Leaders – have planned their own expedition and are completely self-sufficient in the remote and rugged Scottish Highlands. They will only have the equipment and supplies they carry on their backs and will need to plan their routes, their trekking objectives and their science projects to ensure they can collect water from streams for drinking and cooking and be able to locate remote campsites.
The collaboration between two organisations – both harnessing the transformative powers of the outdoors – means even more young people will benefit from acquiring and developing the skills to face life’s challenges head on.
Venture Trust has taken its expert knowledge and evidence-led approach to helping young people struggling with multiple and complex issues, including long term unemployment, to the European stage.
Chief executive officer Amelia Morgan was a keynote speaker at a Working Group in Brussels on Improving the Performance of Labour Markets and Social Systems : “Young people in Europe: how to reduce the number of NEETs?”
Her presentation to a group of European social partners highlighted the context in Scotland regarding youth employment, the skills agenda and the issues we see for young people.
The focus of the working group will be on how to reduce the number of young people who are neither in employment nor in education or training (NEETs) in Europe. This may result in a joint or co-ordinated social partners’ proposals or actions, which will take into consideration national practices and will be related to the European process.
“Venture Trust is sharing our outdoor learning approach to helping young people acquire the life skills to be ready for work and to then transition well and keep a job,” Amelia said.
“Our organisation has been working in the outdoors with vulnerable groups for more than 20 years. We have a distinctive and unique approach. Venture Trust supports individuals to develop the skills to become more employable and enjoy more stable lives. The outdoor element is a key part of our programme, but it produces great results because we weave community engagement and ongoing support into our offer, and that is what produces sustainable outcomes.”
Through Inspiring Young Futures – a programme for young people – Venture Trust has supported 2,200 disadvantaged young people to overcome multiple and complex life circumstances during the past 10 years. This has resulted in 1,150 individuals achieving positive destinations – jobs, training or volunteering.
How did we achieve this? Over 2,000 individuals received 1-to-1 outreach support in local communities. One thousand young people were supported to take part in personal development courses, using experiential learning with cognitive and therapeutic developmental techniques in Scotland’s challenging wilderness environments. We have also helped 120 individuals gain recognised qualifications.
Other impacts included 84% improved confidence, 89% were more employable, 74% improved community bonds and 70% increased use of community services.
Youth unemployment figures in Scotland have dropped significantly over the past few years and a target to cut youth unemployment in Scotland has been met four years ahead of schedule. This is encouraging. However, thousands of young people still remain long-term unemployed because they lack the very basic life skills needed to begin working towards securing and sustaining a job.
Evidence shows being unemployed when young leads to a higher likelihood in later life of being impacted in terms of pay, high unemployment, fewer opportunities, and poorer health.
The people Venture Trust help first require significant investment to achieve greater stability – addressing chaotic or destructive behaviours to become ready for training and employment so that they can sustain a job.
Our impact driven results will contribute to supporting a group of young people throughout Europe who continue to struggle and need support. Venture Trust and our partners will help them tap into their potential by giving them the skills to change their lives.
Cabinet Secretary for Justice Humza Yousaf was “moved” today after meeting with participants of Venture Trust’s criminal justice programmes to hear first-hand how keeping people out of prison benefits individuals, society and creates safer Scottish communities.
Mounting evidence shows that community sentences are more effective at reducing reoffending than short prison sentences. Venture Trust runs specific development programmes aimed at supporting people to take charge of their own life, acquiring the necessary resilience and skills to take responsibility, be ready to look towards employment, training or education and nurture positive relationships. These outcomes are reducing rates of reoffending and providing paths to rehabilitation.
The Scottish Government’s Justice Vision and Priorities and the subsequent proposal to end jail terms of less than 12 months will set challenges to address reoffending in communities. However, Venture Trust with support from the Scottish Government and other funders is delivering collaborative and effective community-based interventions.
Venture Trust chief executive officer Amelia Morgan said: “We believe there should be a far greater emphasis on rehabilitation alongside unpaid work and other measures of support in community sentences. We are committed to investing in our community-based provision and working collaboratively with Scottish Government, local authorities and third sector partners to help people get their lives back on track and away from potential involvement in crime.
“Independent evaluations show our criminal justice programmes have positive impacts on individuals. They have gained new skills, improved their confidence and have started working or studying. They are more stable and less likely to reoffend. These positive changes are then transferred to their families and communities.”
Venture Trust has supported hundreds of people caught up in the criminal justice system into positive destinations of education, training, volunteering or employment. Monitoring data from the last five years shows that for our criminal justice programmes: two thirds of participants showed behaviours and circumstances likely to reduce risks of reconviction; 60% improved their relationships with those around them and were making increased use of services and opportunities in their community; and 80% improved their employability skills.
Venture Trust’s Living Wild and Next Steps (women) programmes comprise three phases. These include one-to-one and group work, and an intensive multi-day (5-10 days) 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 are given support to achieve their individual goals.
Through a preventative and long-term approach, the focus is on an individual’s strengths and equips them with essential life-skills while building confidence. This evidence-led method tackles a cycle of harm and inequality which leaves some people in the margins of society.
“Where someone grew up, their family background or previous negative and damaging experiences - do not have to define them. Everyone deserves compassion, access to opportunity and justice. In turn this will allow for a safe, just and resilient Scotland,” Morgan said.
Participants from Venture Trust’s Next Steps programme Annabelle and Angela shared their inspiring journeys with Mr Yousaf.
Read Annabelle's inspiring account of her time with Venture Trust:
Justice secretary Humza Yousaf said: “I was deeply moved hearing the impact the work of Venture Trust can have on helping individuals who have offended to turn their lives around. We know from evidence that community-based interventions are more effective than short-custodial sentences and programmes such as Living Wild and Next Steps can help individuals to address the issues they are battling with which helps prevent re-offending and make positive changes that benefit them, their families and their communities.”
For further details of the Venture Trust’s programmes, visit: http://www.venturetrust.org.uk/programmes/