Participant stories

  • | Participant stories

    My life would not be the same if I hadn't got involved with VT

    Michelle, a participant on our Inspiring Young Futures programme, reflects on her time with - and after - Venture Trust:


    "...The trip had a thing called support groups where we would sit down and discuss goals to set for ourselves and our group.

    This happened maybe every day or every second day and at first I was like 'I'm not doing this, it will be pointless', the usual! So at first my goals were a little basic like 'get to know the other participants, get involved more with group activities' etc.

    But as the days went on Iain and Phil challenged me to make more personal goals, like ones that would make a difference to me. They noticed I was running late sometimes because I always had to put my make up on and both of them spoke to me about this on our Tipi expedition since it was pouring down and I had mascara and eyeliner all down my face! I ended up realising I was using make up as a mask because I was insecure about my looks and never really felt myself unless I had make up on.

    So I thought about it that whole day and once we'd settled into the tipi at night I announced that I was taking my make up off and I'm challenging myself to keep it off the whole trip. I got a big applause from everyone which I wasn't expecting but it made me want to do it even more. The first few days were hard as I was totally refusing to look at anyone or get my photos taken or anything but people were complimenting me more saying I had a good complexion, I looked more fresh faced and looked better without all the stuff! This made me feel great. I ended up not caring by like day 4/5 and was up for getting photos taken, I was smiling more and just felt a lot better. I lasted the whole trip and everyone was so proud of me which just felt so good hearing that from people.

    All of my goals and skills were recorded on my feedback sheets and I do read them quite a lot when I'm at home.

    If I'm feeling really down or I'm getting really negative with myself, which I do a lot, I bring out all of my sheets and give them a read and remind myself of a person I know I can be and it never fails to cheer me up.

    It helps me reflect on how I overcame obstacles and challenges on the trip and how this can come into effect in life back home. It always boosts my confidence and makes me feel like I can achieve my goals if I just push myself and it always ends up better than if I stayed wallowing in self pity about things. I'm glad I have those sheets, I'll be keeping them forever!

    My life would not be the same if I hadn't got involved with VT.

    I was really upset about coming home [from expedition] to be honest. I was on the train back from Inverness with everyone and we were having a laugh and talking about the trip but everyone settled down after a bit and I pulled out my stuff that I was given like my feedback sheets, my diary and things and gave them a little read. I ended up crying a little, but it wasn't sadness it was more happiness and acceptance that I had managed to complete this challenge and I'd had a really great time and I was ready to start my new life.

    When I got home my mum was so happy to see me and was so proud of me for doing it.

    I seen my friends for the first time a few days later and they couldn't believe the change in me. They said I seemed so much happier, I was more confident and wanted to hear all about my time away. A few days later I had so many things to do like go for my college interview, apply for jobs and get more involved with things and I just seemed so eager to get on with it!"

  • | Participant stories

    William: Onwards and Upwards

    From homelessness to employment and volunteering

    William's story is a real example of the transformational changes that young people can make in their lives with the support of Venture Trust. William was referred to our Inspiring Young Futures from a homelessness project. Having moved to Scotland from his native England, William was feeling very isolated and cut off from any sources of support.

    Gradually building a close relationship with his Venture Trust 'PDA' (outreach worker), William was encouraged to attend activities in his local community - getting to know other young people and building a more positive group of peers. As his confidence increased, William progressed to go on to attend a wilderness expedition, where two feet of snow made the experience even more challenging than usual! He coped well though, and rose to this extra challenge.

    On his return, William's action plan had two main goals: To get away from his negative peer group and get into volunteering.

    He began work on these goals straight away; finding his own tenancy and securing voluntary work with the WRVS. To keep progressing, William's PDA helped him find and sign up for BTCV's 10 week 'Forestry and Environmental Learning Programme'. A really exciting opportunity, Willie had the opportunity to get involved in all aspects of Forestry - taking (and successfully passing) exams in Environmental Conservation, Leadership Skills, First Aid at Work and Chainsaw Training.

    “The week went well and it has been great fun. Really seemed to fly by. Worked at Nethercroy clearing vegetation from the pond. Saw some frogs and moved them away from the area we were working in” - (Willie)

    Willie also had the chance to take part in a 5-day work placement with the Forestry Commission Scotland. He really enjoyed this week – and has been inspired to pursue a career in forestry as a result. William continues to stay in touch with his PDA and the other participants he met with Venture Trust, and will always ask his PDA for help when he's facing a tough situation, or needs extra guidance and support.

    We're really pleased that Willie grabbed the opportunity with both hands, and has really been able to transfer the skills he developed with Venture Trust into this new work environment.

    To find out more, you can download the BTCV report on Willie's programme. Well done Willie!

    Photos by Andrew MacDonald, Exhibit Scotland

  • | Participant stories

    See that there low point, it goes up. And that’s how I feel today.

    We just had to share this poem, produced by the participants and some staff on the latest IYF Expedition to the Southern Cairngorms. It was a glorious day and the group climbed Cairn Crom (890m). The views were incredible and each member of the group picked their favourite view and explained their reasons for choosing it.

    In the words of the staff leading the expedition:

    "It was a magical moment and really confirmed with all the staff that were on the expedition that what we do, and the environments that we work in really do make a difference to young people".

    The Cairn Crom Poem

    By Scott, Daniel, Ronnie, wee Jeni, Philip, Kev and big Jeni.

    6th November 2011, Braemar Expedition

    I like the horizon,
    The silhouette with the dark shades and the sun,
    And the glistening water,
    Not many people are able to enjoy these things.

    That hill there just where the point is,
    That wee point there,
    One day I will come back and climb that one there,
    I want to do that.

    Mine's the valley, the shape of it,
    With all its colours,
    It’s so beautiful,
    It’s amazing.

    See that bit there you see, I think that bit's really nice,
    I had a low point today,
    See that there low point, it goes up,
    And that’s how I feel today.

    For me it’s the valley,
    The shape of the river, all squiggly,
    The shape of the river,
    It draws my attention.

    My view's that way,
    The way we have come up from,
    And over there the way the river meanders,
    And it’s the way we are walking tomorrow.

    That bowl over there,
    'Cause it’s sort of a really good shape,
    It’s huge!
    It looks like a really big seat!

    It’s an amazing view,

    The best view of my life,

    It makes you appreciate your country.

  • | Participant stories

    It makes you see life in a different light

    Are you on a 28 day notice of termination? Do you need to get away from the foyer? Venture Trust is the way forward, it’s a great opportunity with many benefits that can make you see your life at home in a different point of view using plans and different techniques to manage your time and routine. On the train journey up here from Eastbourne, the furthest point of south England you can get, I was abit nervous and didn’t know what I was throwing myself into. I soon found out within 2 days that the train journey was more than worth it and the experience only got better.

    It was a great place to be, in a gorgeous location with sights that are breath taking and stunning to see. With all the support you possibly need you instantly feel at home upon arrival, the friendly and humorous staff make the experience all the more better. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people, gain new skills and realise that you are capable of things you never thought you could do, you find out a lot about yourself and makes you see life in a different light. There’s no regrets in my mind about venturing on this course, in the situation I was in at home with a life of drugs, drink and no sleep routine venture trust gave me the kick and motivation to sort my life out and they helped me every step of the way.

    If you feel as if your life isn’t going anywhere, day in and day out you have nothing to do then throw yourself into this course, at the end of the day you have nothing to lose.

  • | Participant stories

    My name is Gift Kachigamba

    I was released from Kachere Juvenile prison here in Lilongwe in April 2011. This is my story:

    I was born in a family of only one child and my parents died on a car crash when I was just three. I grow with some relatives in Lukuni village. In the year 2010 I got arrested and sent to prison for motor cycle stilling and served a 12 months sentence.

    While in prison I met the guy from Venture Trust and I also learn bricklaying adding the skill of engineering which I already had. After my prison sentence the Venture Trust helped me with finding accommodation and employment to a company called Brinks and Heath where I am now working.

    I now have an idea of going back to school to continue my education but I hope I have enough money for it.

    Gift Kachigamba

    Aged 17

    Lilongwe, Malawi

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