Dean was homeless at 16. He faced the high risk of social isolation and long-term unemployment. Jonathan got caught up in the criminal justice system after he turned to alcohol and drugs to deal with trauma and challenges in his young life. Aiden found himself couch surfing and without permanent accommodation aged 16. This instability made it very hard for him to focus on finding a job.
Today, Dean is an apprentice vehicle technician with one of the UK’s largest independently owned car retailers and he is living in his own flat. Jonathan has completed a personal development and employability programme with Venture Trust. He is now confident he can work towards getting a job and he has overcome his struggles with substance misuse. Aiden has been supported to find stable accommodation, he has completed Venture Trust’s employability programme – CashBack for Communities Change Cycle – and is working for a large cleaning company.
Watch their stories here: Venture Trust Inspiring Young Futures
Minister for Children and Young People Maree Todd met with a group of young people who returned from eight-days in the Scottish outdoors as part of their journey of personal development with Venture Trust.
Inspiring Young Futures is designed for disadvantaged and often vulnerable young people. It supports them to work on skills such as establishing trust, personal boundaries, consequential thinking, problem-solving, dealing with challenging situations, and responsibility and accountability.
This is achieved through sustained support in the young person’s community and with learning and development in the Scottish wilderness. The outdoors offers inherent challenge for individuals to reflect on beliefs, attitudes and behaviours. With time and space away from influences at home, individuals can unlock skills and learn new, more positive, ways of approaching situations.
Ms Todd said:
“The inspiring effort from the staff at the Venture Trust supports disadvantaged young people, helps them to reach their potential and helps make Scotland the best place to grow up.
“When children and young people have been exposed to adverse childhood experiences and trauma, a holistic approach taking account of their needs has the best chance of keeping them safe.
“The Inspiring Young Futures and the Cashback for Communities Change Cycle programmes are a great example of how a preventative approach is essential to improving life chances of children and young people and helping them move on to positive futures.”
Venture Trust chief executive Amelia Morgan said:
“It was fantastic to have the Minister visit our base in Stirling and meet with the young people who are working towards reaching their potential. Many young people referred to Venture Trust have come from life circumstances where they are not given the best start. They are often dealing with one or more of the following: poverty, alcohol and drug addiction, poor family relationships, mental health issues, learning and housing issues. The majority also have had little or no work experience.
“Our personal development programmes help young people facing challenges in their lives to set out and achieve their goals, grow in confidence and stability. By offering intensive learning and development in communities and the Scottish wilderness, we help 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.”
Where someone grew up, their family background or previous negative and damaging experiences - do not have to define them. We can put this right. Everyone deserves compassion, access to opportunity and justice. By empowering the young people we support to share their experiences coupled with evidence of what works, we can make the case for change. We can tackle disadvantage and inequality that is restricting their potential.
Scottish Veterans Commissioner Charlie Wallace recently met with a group of former Armed Service members at Venture Trust’s base in Stirling after they returned from seven days in the wilds of Scotland.
The group of participants had just completed their wilderness journey as part of a three-phase personal development programme with Venture Trust.
The Positive Futures programme is specifically for ex-Service men and women; individuals who may have a wealth of experience and skills, but who are finding it difficult to either transition fully into civilian life or are struggling with maintaining a civilian focussed identity.
It helps participants work towards achieving their personal goals. These could be re-deploying skills learnt within the military, finding a home, rebuilding broken relationships, working towards living a healthy, safe and stable life, retraining or applying for a job or utilising their skills through volunteering. All of these are highlighted as significant issues encountered when transitioning to civilian life.
We use Scotland's spectacular wild places to deliver intense personal development. The outdoors is 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.
Sunburnt, windswept, midge bitten but smiling and on top of the world, the ex-service personnel shared their experiences with the Veterans Commissioner.
“It’s brilliant to have someone working to improve the lives and opportunities of veterans sit down and listen to what we are going through,” one of the participants said.
“Hopefully we can help show that programmes like this do make a difference,” another said.
Veterans Commissioner Charlie Wallace said:
“I was delighted to be able to visit and talk to the group of veterans who recently completed the Venture Trust’s ‘Positive Futures’ programme – designed specifically for veterans struggling with transition and integration into their civilian lives.
“It was heartening to hear first-hand from the group and staff how valuable the veterans found the programme. Initiatives like this play a valuable part in helping our veterans improve their confidence to deal with aspects of their civilian lives which they find challenging. Successful integration from the military into the civilian world is not always easy and the Venture Trust should be applauded for recognising this and developing ‘Positive Futures’ alongside their other programmes.”
Venture Trust CEO Amelia Morgan said:
“It was fantastic to have Charlie Wallace meet participants of our Positive Futures programme at our National Participant Centre. It sends a really positive message of support to our participants – for those past, and those about to head out on the next Positive Futures journey.
“For all of those leaving the military, it marks a complete change. Most ex-service personnel thrive, going on to have successful careers and balanced lives. But for a small minority the transition to civilian life can be overwhelming and confusing which can lead to a multitude of negative circumstances.
"Research is showing the Positive Futures programme is offering veterans the support and space to begin to see themselves differently – that they can have a different life. Many are going on to further education, training, volunteering or employment, and this is a key catalyst for positive life changes.”
For more information about Positive Futures click here.
Positive Futures is funded by the Chancellor using LIBOR funds. It was also previously funded by The Forces in Mind Trust with a three-year pilot.
At Venture Trust we are working to close the attainment gap.
We support those struggling with many and complex issues, outside mainstream support and unemployed, or who may have never been in employment. This hinders their life chances and future potential. Our approach is preventative and long-term. We focus on an individual’s strengths, equipping them with essential life-skills and building confidence. Together, we can tackle a cycle of harm and inequality which leaves some people in the margins of society.
Watch our film with some of the young people we have supported.
(Click Play for Video)
“You’re looking a bit cocky.” The steward remarked.
“Do you want to climb over the railing and go straight over the side?” (The other abseil participants were edging themselves down gently through a gap).
“Sure, I’ll go over the side,” Judie told him.
“I’ve done this before”
Judie tried abseiling when she attended a Next Steps course in Spring 2018, she immediately wanted to go back up and do it again, so completing The Forth Bridge Abseil Challenge for Venture Trust was a natural progression.
“Venture Trust took me away on Personal Development courses to help me to prepare better for the future and to help me manage situations better. I really enjoyed my experience and saw parts of Scotland I had never seen before. I would like to do my bit to put something back to give others the opportunity.”
The big day came earlier this month.
“I wasn’t scared at all,” Judie recalled.
“All I could think was I’m gonna do this, let’s do this. Once off the ledge my first thought was let’s take it slow so I can take in the views and so my friend could get some decent pictures. You feed the rope through your hands at your own pace, so you can go down in less than a minute or take three or four. It was towards the end of the day and I noticed the clouds were gathering. It was going to rain soon and there was a wee breeze and I was turning gently around. I remember the music playing was Sweet Home Alabama and that felt great. As soon as my feet hit the ground I wanted to do it all again. It was a great day out and I really enjoyed spending time in Queensferry which had a brilliant atmosphere”
Judie found the sponsorship aspects of the challenge a little more daunting as she felt unsure about approaching people to support her. Did she succeed as a fundraiser? Totally, Judie smashed this target out of the park too and her total currently stands at over £250 and still rising.
What was Judie’s fundraising strategy?
“I told everyone I knew that I was abseiling for Venture Trust. A lot of people I asked do not have much money but they gave what they could with many people giving £1 or £2. An old man apologised because he could only afford to give me £1. I told him it doesn’t matter if its £1 it’s all gonna help. I went round all the people I know at Access to Industry, Willow, Street Fit and I asked in my local pub. The Landlord told people about the abseil and collected sponsorship for me and that meant I was raising money even though I wasn’t there myself. “
And does Judie have the challenge event bug now? Next Sunday she is running on behalf of Street Fit at Portobello. Go Judie.
If you’d like to complete a challenge for Venture Trust we’d love to hear from you and we are especially delighted to hear from our participants and their friend and families.
Take part in Pedal for Scotland or join Team Venture Trust at The Edinburgh Kiltwalk in September.
Find out more at: Rise to the Challenge for Venture Trust
Or contact Alison at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 0131 228 7711.
Aaron is working on repairing a bicycle. He volunteers at The Bike Station in Edinburgh – a charity that works with community and youth groups to develop skills and self-worth through working on donated bikes.
He has recently completed Venture Trust's CashBack Change Cycle employability programme for disadvantged young people in Scotland.
Bikes are a big part of Aaron’s life. So is finding a job. Building his own bike and improving his employability skills were the perfect combination.
The programme - funded by CashBack for Communities from the proceeds of crime - is harnessing the benefits of cycling to give young people the skills to get into employment, training or volunteering. It is delivered in partnership with The Bike Station and Bike for Good in Glasgow.
For many, the bike they build also gets them to work, college or place of volunteering.
“The CashBack Change Cycle programme was fantastic because it combined my love of bicycles with some really valuable and essential skills to help me get a job. CV writing, computer skills and qualifications like manual handling, fire safety and first aid are all important to have on any job application,” Aaron said.
“The skills I developed and now the work experience I’m getting by volunteering will make me more qualified to get a full-time job.”
Aiden, 16, has recently started his first job. He often cycles to work.
The bike he rides is one he built himself as part of an innovative employability programme for vulnerable young people run by Scottish charity Venture Trust.
“Having the bike let me get this job. I can get to work on time and don’t have to spend a lot of money on transport,” Aiden said.
“Through building the bike in the workshop and doing the qualifications on the Change Cycle programme my confidence improved and I learnt lots of important skills to help with getting a job.”
June 8-16 is Bike Week and Venture Trust employability worker Zoe Grove said it was great to celebrate the event by highlighting the role a bicycle can play in changing the lives of young people facing challenging life circumstances.
“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,” he said.
“There also the added benefits of improving physical fitness, helping mental welllbeing by giving young people the opportunity to get away from things. They can head out to a trail, to a park or green space and escape for a while.”
By volunteering at The Bike Station, Aaron continues to develop his employability skills. As he fixes and services bikes for other people to use - bikes that will hopefully be used by more people to hit the road and tracks this Bike Week and in the future - Aaron reflects on what a bike means to him.
“A bicycle allows me to be active but and puts me in a good headspace. Studies have shown cycling has a massive benefit for mental health. It allows me to travel to more places, it’s independence, an extra leg of freedom, it’s great for the environment and for me it’s happiness.”