• | News

    Venture Trust wins prize for innovation by removing technology at Spirit of the Community Awards

    Venture Trust is pleased to announce that it won not one but two awards at Clydesdale Bank’s Spirit of the Community Awards 2018 for its CashBack Change Cycle employability programme.

    Venture Trust was one of five organisations to win a prize in the ‘help people into employment’ category through its CashBack Change Cycle programme. It also won the first B Innovation award for demonstrating innovation in its CashBack Change Cycle programme. Awards for innovation are usually reserved for the latest technology or something digital, but Venture Trust won for a programme where technology is removed, and phones are definitely not allowed!

    CashBack Change Cycle is an employability programme supporting disadvantaged young people to develop the life skills required to gain sustainable employment. Along with partners, Bike for Good and The Bike Station Edinburgh, the programme centres around building and maintaining a bike, combining one-to-one support and group mentoring, outdoor activity and classroom work, developing confidence, responsibility, and job readiness.

    The Yorkshire and Clydesdale Bank Foundation, the organisation behind the Spirit of the Community Awards, has a strong tradition of supporting communities by providing funds to help registered charities, not-for-profit organisations, community and other voluntary organisations make life safer, healthier and better for those around them.

    The awards support projects that help people have a healthy relationship with money, help people into employment and help people improve their local environment.

    CashBack Change Cycle takes disadvantaged young people out of their normal environment, away from technology, away from peer pressure, and digital media, and gives them the space and peace to see themselves differently. Individuals are supported to learn skills that most people take for granted: working as a team, following instructions, dealing with confrontation, and building self-worth. Young people learn practical skills of building a bike, bike maintenance, and gain certificates in Health & Safety, First Aid, and Tech City and Guilds. Time is spent in the classroom developing employability skills such as CV writing, interview techniques, and setting and achieving goals, and valuable time is spent in the outdoors developing bike skills and building confidence. Once completed, the individuals are supported to achieve their goals and gain sustainable employment, along with having their own bike to travel economically to their place of work.

    Amelia Morgan, Chief Executive Officer for Venture Trust comments, “We are delighted to have received both awards at the Spirit of the Community Awards. The prizes total £10,000 which is invaluable in ensuring that we continue to run the CashBack Change Cycle programme, along with our main funder, CashBack for Communities. This is a fantastic programme that really supports young people with complex issues who have for some reason found themselves on the margins of society. Innovation doesn’t always mean high technology – it can also mean seeing things differently and that is what we have done with our CashBack Change Cycle programme.”

    For more information about CashBack Change Cycle programme, please visit our programmes page.


  • | News

    Next Steps secures funding from Scottish Government

    Venture Trust is pleased to announce that it has been awarded Scottish Government funding for its Next Steps women’s programme.

    The grant has been secured to help Venture Trust maintain the service’s availability for2018/19. The funds will allow even more vulnerable women - who've been involved in offending or at high risk of offending – to access help and get the support they need to make positive changes to their lives.

    Venture Trust CEO Amelia Morgan welcomed the funding announcement:

    “This endorsement reflects and validates the impact of the programme. By continuing to deliver a high quality and transformational programme, we can help even more women from getting caught up in the criminal justice system.”

    Next Steps is helping women to break the cycle of reoffending. Individuals on the programme have succeeded in making and sustaining positive changes in their lives. Many have shown increased self-confidence; improved employability skills; improved behaviours and circumstances likely to reduce risks of reconviction. There is evidence that they have improved their relationships with those around them, and are making increased use of services and opportunities in their community such as libraries, gyms or doctors’ surgeries.

    The funding announcement comes on top of the recently released independent evaluation findings for the Next Steps programme.

    Our three year study shows that the Next Steps programme has the power to change women’s lives:

    • More than half of all women who completed the Next Steps wilderness journey went on to achieve at least one ‘positive destination’ (education, employment, training or volunteering)

    • Two thirds of women showed improvements in relation to stability and reduced likelihood of reoffending

    • 8 out of 10 showed increased employability skills and self-confidence

    • Participants and stakeholders praised the programme

    A copy of the executive summary can be found here.

    Venture Trust would also like to acknowledge the vital support from a range of funding partners for the Next Steps programme and evaluation over the last 3 years, including the Big Lottery Fund (primary programme funder 2014-17), European Social Funds, City of Edinburgh Council, Porticus UK, the Goldsmiths’ Company Charity, Spirit of 2012's Sporting Equality Fund, the SHINE Mentoring Service, and a number of other trusts and foundations. Thanks also to key delivery partners within the SHINE family and Move On.

  • | News

    Amelia Morgan: We must recognise that people can change – not just lock them up in jail

    Venture Trust is delivering collaborative and effective community-based interventions for people caught up in the Scottish criminal justice system.

    The work we are doing was recently featured in The Scotsman.

    Evidence shows community sentences are more effective at reducing reoffending than short ­prison sentences and outside of prison people can access the services to help with rehabilitation.

    Collaborative and sustained support does break the cycle of offending and reduces the social harm and financial costs for individuals, families and communities. Often it is poverty, inequality and adverse childhood experiences and the trauma resulting from domestic abuse, addiction to drugs and ­alcohol that underpins offending behaviour. These issues need to be addressed and can be best addressed outside of prison for many people. Scotland can create safer communities by being bold. Investing for the long term - in services which work - is fundamental to build confidence for victims of crime, sentencers and the public, and will result in making communities safer.

    Read the full article here: Amelia Morgan: We must recognise that people can change – not just lock them up in jail

  • | News | Participant stories

    Taking Back Control of My Life: A Positive Futures Journey

    Ian is working full-time, he recently got engaged and is happy and healthy.

    But life was not always this way for the ex-serviceman.

    Less than a year ago, Ian was “trapped” in his spartan flat. Anxiety and fear had shut him away from society. He was unemployed, not part of his community, he was living an unhealthy lifestyle and he spent a lot of time alone at home.

    Ian’s struggles with PTSD, anxiety and depression were debilitating and were not allowing him to “take part in civilian life”.

    He described himself as: “Depressed, lethargic, low and apprehensive about everything.”

    Ian’s poor mental health and poor decision making eventually led to him becoming caught up in the criminal justice system and being convicted. It also led him to Venture Trust.

    As a result of his conviction, Ian was supported by a social worker from the Criminal Justice Social Work Services in Perth. His subsequent referral to Venture Trust and the Positive Futures programme allowed him to start the fight to change his future. Initially it proved to be a tough and sustained battle for both Ian and his Venture Trust outreach worker Clare.

    Positive Futures - funded by the Forces in Mind Trust – is specifically for ex-service personnel struggling with the transition to civilian life. Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), is a £35 million funding scheme run by FiMT using an endowment awarded by the Big Lottery Fund.

    During the first few appointments with his outreach worker, Ian really struggled to leave his flat due to his anxiety. It may have only been a short walk to the meeting point, but mentally it was like climbing a mountain for Ian. Gradually Ian grew more confident and was comfortable enough to meet Clare on a regular basis, further from home and in busier places.

    All of Venture Trust's programmes consist of three phases. Phase 1 involved Ian committing to regular meetings with Clare who supported him to set clear and measureable goals to work towards in the build-up to Phase 2 – the wilderness journey. The goals Ian set were “to have the knowledge that I am not the only person feeling this way”, in terms of his anxiety. He also felt he needed “a big time confidence boost” and full time employment was another goal he set his sights on for future.

    The intensive five-day wilderness journey in the highlands uses outdoor activity and experiential learning techniques, allowing participants to make positive changes in negotiating barriers, gaining control of their life circumstances, and working towards achieving personal goals. These could be re-deploying skills learnt within the military; living independently; rebuilding broken relationships; moving towards jobs, training or volunteering; and generally working towards living a healthy, safe and stable life.

    Anxiety and fear had been such a constant presence in Ian’s life and even a few days before going on his wilderness journey, they shadowed him once more. The thought of travelling on public transport on his own and meeting new people filled him with dread. However, support from Clare and Ian’s criminal justice worker helped him overcome his trepidation. It was also arranged for a fellow veteran attending the same course to join Ian on the train journey to Stirling for the start of the journey.

    Ian described his feelings ahead of the course and after the first few days:

    “I was really scared. No other word for it apart from petrified. I wasn’t sure I was going to go but I pushed myself to do this. I don’t like letting people down. Meeting the other veteran in Perth I was a bit apprehensive and cautious. I was nervous about getting the train and meeting new people at the other end. Nothing could ease the nerves. I didn’t know whether I wanted to stay. As the day went on I started to settle. I realised we were all the same with different problems in the same boat.”

    The wilderness journey is the catalyst for change for many participants and for Ian it truly was.

    “In the middle of Loch Katrine when in a canoe, the waves were coming in and the wind was in our face. We were going in all different directions instead of the way we were meant to be going. All we did was laugh. This is when I realised I was settled in to the group. I was quite head strong after this and determined to stay.”

    Ian found the experience life-changing. “The way in which they teach is incredible. Not sitting in a classroom is such a great way to learn. The support from all the staff was fantastic,” he said.

    “It’s not a boxed in area with distractions. You are out in the fresh air, challenging yourself, allowing everything to sink in. Having people to listen and there not being a time limit during the one-to-one sessions is very different to previous appointments where there is usually a time limit. Getting feedback, made me feel good. Somebody listening and asking me questions.”

    While out in the wilderness, each participant is supported to design an 'action plan' for their future, ensuring they can continue on their personal journey when they return to their community.

    Ian wasted no time starting his action plan. It began with things many people take for granted. Things Ian struggled to do before. Like take his dogs for a walk and go to the supermarket. He put to use the process of 'plan, do, and review’. This ensured the steps he was taking were positive and “not to beat himself” up if something did not go to plan. He was able to re-deploy skills that he had rediscovered and better review situations that once caused anxiety and stress. Soon Ian was a “different person”. “I feel good about myself, and I have not felt like this in a long time,” he said.

    Clare could not believe the difference in Ian in the weeks after he returned from the wilderness journey.

    “In almost five years as an outreach worker, I can honestly say that the change in Ian was the biggest I have ever witnessed. He was like a different person. He was 'on top of the clouds'. He looked happy, he was smiling, and said he is feeling ‘absolutely awesome’”.

    Soon after his return, Ian proposed to his girlfriend. He successfully applied for a full time job that he loves, and is happy and healthy.

    “I feel outgoing, happy in myself, confident, enthusiastic. I have faith in myself again. I don’t put myself down about things I cannot change. I feel good about myself and that’s the first time I have felt like that in four years.”

    For more information about the Positive Futures programme visit our website.

    Veterans involved in the Scottish community justice system can also take part in our Living Wild programme. Armed Forces Covenant is funding places especially for veterans.

  • | News

    Former British mountain bike champion, Lee Craigie announced as Venture Trust ambassador

    Venture Trust charity is delighted to announce former British Mountain Bike Champion and GB team member, Lee Craigie as its ambassador.

    Speaking about Lee’s appointment, Chief Executive Officer, Amelia Morgan said, “Lee is a shining example of what hard work, determination and self-belief can achieve. As a sportswoman and role model, as well as founding member of The Adventure Syndicate, Lee is well placed to inspire young people who may not have had the best start in life. We are so pleased to have Lee on board.”

    She continued, “Lee’s appointment is particularly timely, as we recently launched our CashBack Change Cycle programme for young disadvantaged adults. It is a personal development programme centred around vocational training to build a mountain bike. In fact, Lee attended our CashBack Change Cycle launch in September.”

    Lee explains why she accepted the role of ambassador at Venture Trust. “The Venture Trust provides opportunities that change lives to some of our most in need members of society. Outdoor adventurous activity is the perfect vehicle for increasing levels of self-esteem, physical fitness and emotional resilience as well as offering participants the opportunity to develop meaningful, trusting relationships with others."

    Lee didn’t start racing until she was 26. She raced XC Mountain Bike for Scotland in the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and for Great Britain in the World and European Championships. In 2016 she became the UK 24 Hour Mountain Bike Champion before turning to endurance adventure racing. She has taken part in the prestigious Highland Trail 550, Cairngorm Loop and the 2,750 mile self-supported Tour Divide race as well as racing in the Alps, Pyrenees, Rockies and Andes.

    Now retired from full time racing, Lee has turned her attention to inspiring the next generation of riders. She explains, “After retiring it felt important to give something back. I also wanted to challenge the sexism and elitism that exists in top end sporting competition. So I set up The Adventure Syndicate, a collective of female athletes who inspire, encourage and enable others in a collaborative, co-operative way to get the best out of themselves, not just win races.”

    Things have come full circle, as many years previous, Lee worked for Venture Trust. “I graduated from Strathclyde University with a degree in Outdoor Education and worked as an outdoor instructor for years. When I became freelance in 2003, I worked for Venture Trust on their residential course in Applecross and, for the first time, was exposed to a team of outdoor instructors who felt the same way as I did about the personal and social development aspects of the profession. The experiences we were able to deliver to participants was second to none and I've no doubt we changed lives for the better as a result. I thoroughly support the work that they do and have personal experience of its value.”

    Amelia concludes, “We are really excited about working with Lee on several opportunities throughout the next year, and hope that together we can really inspire young people to go on to do great things!”

    For more information about our CashBack Change Cycle programme, please click here


Looking for advice?

Looking for advice?

If you'd like to know more about one of our programmes.

Find out more »

Meet Lucy

Meet Lucy

and find out where Venture Trust could take you...

Read more »

Sign up for updates

Tell us your email to receive our latest news