Venture Trust has been shortlisted for the 2018 Herald Society Awards.
CashBack Change Cycle – the organisation’s employability programme targeting disadvantaged young people – has been selected as a finalist in the Young People’s Project of the Year Award.
Judges were on the lookout for a team or initiative working with young people, which has achieved results that others haven’t managed, perhaps through creative or imaginative approaches.
The CashBack Change Cycle programme – funded by a grant from CashBack for Communities – is breaking the cycle of long-term unemployment associated with some of Scotland’s most vulnerable young people. By providing an opportunity that relates to young people and keeps them engaged while they gain important life and employability skills, Venture Trust is helping those young people to improve their quality of life.
The programme 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. The programme aims to work with 250 young people over three years, supporting their progression onto education, training, volunteering, or employment.
“I have to admit that was the best course I have done. It was comfortable and safe including the going on the residential. I didn't always enjoy the CV work but I'm glad I got the help to sort it and get it done. I feel a lot better about myself and feel ready to take anything on now because of the course.” – Cashback Change Cycle participant
Many of the participants on Cashback Change Cycle have first taken part in Venture Trust’s Inspiring Young Futures programme. This involves intensive needs-led personal development in communities and the Scottish wilderness, where participants are supported to gain the life skills, stability and confidence to then progress onto the employability programme.
There are agencies getting young people ready for work but most of those young adults already have the soft skills to engage in training or to start working. The people Venture Trust helps 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.
Many have experienced family life where unemployment, drug and alcohol misuse or violence are a part of their everyday experience- making it hard to get into mainstream education or work. Through its programmes for young people, Venture Trust provides opportunities for developing the skills needed to become more employable or more stable, raises aspirations, and changes behaviours so that young people can build and maintain positive, quality relationships with those around them.
“Talking to people face to face every day…has helped me to become more confident…I had quite a bit of anxiety, but now I feel…. well different. I just do things now.” – Cashback Change Cycle participant
Venture Trust is proud to be delivering the CashBack Change Cycle programme with Bike for Good Glasgow and The Bike Station Edinburgh with additional support from Yorkshire & Clydesdale Bank Foundation’s Spirit of the Community Awards 2018, The Percy Bilton Charity, The Hugh Stenhouse Foundation and The Cotton Trust.
The Herald Society Awards winners will be announced at a gala event on Thursday November 1st.
For more information about Venture Trust visit: www.venturetrust.org.uk
Venture Trust is taking part in an innovative new approach to justice.
The Aberdeen Problem-Solving Approach (PSA) is looking to reduce re-offending by focussing on underlying problems linked with persistent, low-level offending. Under the PSA, offenders who would otherwise get a prison sentence are offered a chance to work with social workers and other support networks to help them deal with underlying factors such as debt, addiction, homelessness or past trauma.
Venture Trust has been one of the support services working with Aberdeen community justice partners including the Sheriff Court, criminal justice social workers (CJSW), police and women’s centre.
The project, the first of its kind in Scotland, works closely with women and young men who have multiple complex needs. Rather than being imprisoned, they receive a deferred sentence and talk to social workers and support workers about the underlying problems linked to their offending. A sheriff reviews their progress periodically, praising, warning or encouraging as he or she sees fit.
Referring a PSA participant to Venture Trust is one of the options available to CJSW to help address the issues associated with re-offending. The organisation’s programmes help people involved in the criminal justice system who recognise that they need to address their behaviours and attitudes. They are offered support to develop the skills and motivation to work towards a life free from crime, to become more employable, see more possibilities and build positive relationships with others.
A review of the Aberdeen PSA by Ipsos MORI Scotland and the University of Stirling concluded the approach “shows promise”. It also recommends that community justice partners in other parts of Scotland give consideration to the benefits of a problem-solving approach.
Amelia Morgan, Chief Executive Officer at Venture Trust says: “Often it is poverty, inequality and adverse childhood experiences, and the trauma resulting from domestic abuse and addiction that underpins offending behaviour. These issues need to be addressed and can be best addressed outside of prison for many people.”
“Collaborative and sustained support does break the cycle of offending and reduces the social harm and financial costs for individuals, families and communities. Scotland can create safer communities by being bold. Investing for the long term - in services which work - is fundamental in building confidence for victims of crime, those passing sentences and the public, and will result in making communities safer.”
Ash Denham, Minister for Community Safety, told The Herald: “The numbers involved were small, but the evidence suggested other areas should consider adopting the approach. Initiatives such as the Aberdeen Problem Solving Approach are a great example of the work being done across the country to help individuals caught in the cycle of reoffending to turn their lives around.”
Dr Hannah Graham, Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Stirling, was quoted as saying: “Prison has been tried with this group and doesn’t seem to be making a difference. Meanwhile a prison sentence can result in the loss of tenancy, loss of children and a lack of hope - which can increase the risk of further offending.”
“These people are in and out of court, often being given short prison sentences, without the underlying issues being addressed. This approach seeks to do that to address the issues contributing to repetitive cycles of crime and punishment, so they can move on with their lives.”
Note: If any other Sheriffdoms take up the PSA approach and wish to add Venture Trust to their portfolio of supportive services then please contact Gordon Thomson to discuss possibilities.
Gordon can be reached at the following: Phone: 07772484039 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The sun is shining in Portobello.
Stephen is smiling and excited as he talks about supporting and mentoring people fighting to break free from the “grip” and “madness” of addiction and the pain and suffering addiction brings.
He has just finished a peer mentor training programme and is now qualified to help those facing the same struggles he has.
“My life is brilliant right now,” he says.
However, life was not always sunny for Stephen.
As a teen he turned to drugs as an escape from the trauma and turmoil in his life.
His addiction caused his life to spiral out of control. He lost everything that was once important to him - family, friends, his home and eventually his freedom.
After a chaotic childhood, Stephen joined the army as a 16-year-old as a way to set his life on a steady path. However, after issues with alcohol his military career did not last and shortly after he left the service his girlfriend was tragically killed in an accident.
“This was me. I had lost my chance at a career I wanted, I had lost my girlfriend, and I had lost the house. I had lost everything,” Stephen recalls.
At times he felt so lost and alone he believed life was hardly worth living.
His drug use increased and so did his criminal activities to feed his habit. After several appearances in front of the court, Stephen was eventually locked away in Polmont Young Offenders' Institution.
Prison didn’t end up being a place of rehabilitation for Stephen. He was able to get access to drugs from while he was behind bars. “It wasn’t a very nice place as you can imagine and I soon got into heroin,” he says.
For the next decade, life for Stephen was filled with “a misery inside”. Drugs, crime and homelessness were all part of his existence. He even robbed his family. For a moment a relationship with a woman appeared to give Stephen a reason to change his life. But the relationship ended and he once more turned to the only source of relief he knew – drugs.
“I started using legal highs. That’s when I really hit rock bottom. I had drug psychosis, I was running about with knives. It was absolute madness. I lost 25 kilogrammes in two months. I had to be carried out of my house and into hospital,” Stephen remembers.
“I had no will to live.”
On his release from hospital Stephen was accommodated in housing for individuals struggling with substance abuse. He was also placed on a Drug Treatment and Testing Order (DTTO). He had to undergo regular drug testing and he also began to engage with professional support services. He took inspiration from a support worker who had turned his own life around.
“I was drug tested, I cut off a lot of people who I had been associating with and with the help of medication I began to see this wee bit of light at the end of a dark tunnel.”
The same worker that had inspired him to make changes in his life referred him to Venture Trust.
Venture Trust’s programmes of personal development help people involved in the criminal justice system who recognise that they need to address their behaviours and attitudes. There is support for individuals to develop the skills and motivation to work towards a life free from crime, to become more employable, see more possibilities and build positive relationships with others. Staff work with participants in their community and also in the Scottish wilderness.
A unique phase of the programmes is a wilderness journey in the wilds of Scotland. Outdoor activity and experiential learning techniques allow 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.
Stephen had always loved the outdoors and adventure. It was what drew him to the Army all those years ago. “It sounded like my kind of thing.”
He met with an Outreach Worker and they began working towards getting Stephen physically and mentally prepared for the three phase Living Wild programme - funded by The Scottish Government and also by the Armed Forces Covenant for ex-service personnel in the Scottish community justice system. This meant cutting back on medication and making the commitment to change.
It hasn’t easy for Stephen. He has had his setbacks and a short relapse but with his determination and desire to escape “the wreckage” that had been his life for 20 years he has broken free from the grip of addiction. He is experiencing life through clear eyes and mind. With his confidence up and a desire to help others access the service Venture Trust provides, Stephen also threw himself off a bridge - with an elastic chord tied around his ankles - to raise funds for the organisation.
“It’s great to have a life back. To not feel hopeless or like you are nothing or useless. Venture Trust has helped me to become somebody again. It’s still a daily struggle at time but I now have the skills to deal with life,” Stephen says.
“My family all want something to do with me. I’m re-building relationships that were broken.
“The life that I have now is brilliant compared to what it was like. I thought I was a failure and that I was going to die in that horrible existence of addiction, prison, violence and fear.”
Watch Stephen's story below:
Venture Trust has been awarded an £18,000 grant from the Scottish Children’s Lottery to support its work with young people.
The grant from the Scottish Children’s Lottery will help fund the Inspiring Young Futures programme, which targets young people in West Lothian, Edinburgh, East Lothian, Dundee, Glasgow, Inverclyde, North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire, who are living in complex and chaotic situations.
Through one-to-one support, the programme helps young people reflect on the changes they would like to make to their lives, and helps unlock their confidence, motivation and life skills.
Amelia Morgan, chief executive at Venture Trust, said: “We are extremely grateful for the funding from the Scottish Children’s Lottery, which will be used to support 140 young people in Scotland.
"The grant will allow us to reach those who are struggling with chaotic life circumstances such as homelessness, abuse, isolation, substance misuse and involvement in the criminal justice system.
"Our experienced team of staff will assist them to gain life skills, work-readiness, a sense of purpose and to work towards making positive life changes.”
The Scottish Children’s Lottery was launched in October 2016 to raise money for children in Scotland, with proceeds helping to improve the lives of children right across the country and make a real difference to those who need it most.
Trustee Alan Eccles represents Chance to Succeed, which operates as a society lottery under the Scottish Children’s Lottery. Chance to Succeed supports projects that focus on employability and employment skills, helping to deliver a productive future for our young people.
Alan Eccles said: “Chance to Succeed believes that every young person in Scotland deserves a chance to be seen, prove themselves and forge a successful career for themselves.
"By supporting Venture Trust we hope to help deliver a productive future for our young people.
"Thank you to those who play the Scottish Children’s Lottery; you are helping to support the great work that our charities undertake.”
If you want to know more about what we do and who we work with at Venture Trust visit our website.
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.