Jack (not his real name) was living at home with his mum and dad when we met him, but was in danger of being thrown out due to his change in behaviour (thought to be due to his drug use which included the new craze at the time 'Bubbles') and lack of energy during the day while recovering from the night before. Jack had stopped attending school, was not working and was now hanging around with a different set of friends who were of concern to his parents.
“I bunked off school a lot. When I went to Careers [Skills Development Scotland] looking for a training course they wouldn’t put me on one because they didn’t think I would go. I was taking bubbles sometimes and when I told them, they thought I had a drug problem. I was just sitting in the house not doing much... There was nothing happening and I couldn’t get into training or a job or anything.”
Skills Development Scotland helped Jack get in touch with the PDP. He engaged well with his one-to-one worker (Positive Destinations Advisor, or PDA), and a positive working relationship was quickly established. The PDA referred Jack to the Fairbridge 'Access Programme' where he really impressed all of the tutors by developing his ability to set goals and work towards them. They recommended that he also join the 'Spirit of Fairbridge' – a chance to help crew a 92 foot Schooner around the West coast of Scotland – to enhance his ability to work with others and deal with challenging situations. He received a glowing report from this venture and on his return felt able to kick his drug habit.
Jack worked with his PDA to write a CV, and was able to transfer the skills he had learnt on the programmes into positive and desirable skills required by employers. The PDA then introduced Jack to local Job Brokers who, again impressed with his personality, skill-set and now his CV, put him forward for two interviews. He did not need to attend his second interview as he was successful in gaining employment at the first! Jack worked over the Christmas period and continued to meet regularly with his PDA. When the sessional work came to an end, his PDA helped him arrange a meeting with Skills Development Scotland. Here, staff were impressed by the change in Jack and did not hesitate in recommending him for the Training Programme he had initially wanted to attend.
“I wasn’t sure about it [the PDP] but met the PDA and it was OK. It gave me more confidence and got me doing more stuff. It let me prove to Careers that I could stay on a programme and so could do training. My PDA took me down to the job brokers and helped with interviews. He helped me with my CV... I went straight to a job and my PDA helped me all the way. I’m at Claverhouse Training just now training for CSCS [Construction Skills Certification] just now and hopefully getting a placement on a building site soon... I want a full time job with decent money. Maybe go abroad!”
Life in prison has been adventurous and it still is. It is almost a year and a half now since I have been here. Here in Kachere life is full of expectance. Every inmate hopes that one day he is going to go back home and meet their families.
Here in jail I have managed to do school. As I am writing, I am waiting for my Malawi Certificate of Education (MCE) exam results. I have also kept my self busy with the Venture Trust activities and I have my friends that help me. We work together as a team to help change our lives and our friends. Venture Trust has helped a lot of guys.
I have a goal just like any other boy out there. I would like to do Media programming including Journalism. I really want to do this so to give chance to teenagers to be involved in the media industry so that they can be able to express themesleves on radio and television. I also want to get stories and put them in media concerning young peoples life and the challenges they face each and every day.
To my fellow young people I would like to tell them to believe in themselves and be strong no matter what the challenges maybe. Remember not to take drugs and alcohol!
Robin, age 17, head boy 2011 (voted in by fellow inmates at Kachere Juvenile Centre)
I just wanted to stop fighting, stop hanging around with the wrong crew. I not hanging about with the wrong crew any more, I’m not hanging about with the ones who just want to go out and fight 24/7. As soon as we start arguing now, I just get up and walk away from it.
[Before Venture Trust] I was just sitting around, doing nothing. Now, I’m at the volunteer centre, going out, cutting grass, painting folk’s houses, for people with disabilities. I’d not thought about it before, but I just wanted to do something for the community. I love it, man. You cannae beat it. I feel better in myself; I’m getting up earlier, getting out, doing something with my time, instead of sitting about, lazing about, doing nothing. I don’t think I’d have gone down the volunteer centre if it wasn’t for Venture Trust.
[My ambitions for the future are to] get a decent job, with a decent wage, settle down.
If I was starting Venture Trust again, I wouldn’t do anything differently, but I’d change my attitude going into it. Go with a positive attitude. Don’t say to yourself ‘it’s going to be bad’, cos it’s not, it’s class.
I’d definitely recommend this course to anyone. it’s just a phenomenon of a course which will bring out the better side of you, and stray you from the bad habits in life.
Venture Trust is an epic adventure, where you gain; new friends (in members and staff), gain new skills, and just overall enjoy yourself and have fun. Before I heard about Venture Trust I wasn’treally doing anything with my life , but then my key worker told me about this course with Venture Trust, so I accepted to see how Venture Trust could change my life. The other participants on the course I now see as my second family. This is because when we go out on walks or expeditions we all look out for one another. Whilst on this course I feel like I’m a different person altogether, the reason for this is I have learnt new skills in which I can use in future reference. These skills are things such as; gaining self confidence, self motivation, and having trust in and for others.
I was also just another resident at a foyer wasting my life doing nothing, not even experiencing skills in which I didn’t know I had till I went to Venture Trust. Leading on from this I learnt many skills and developed other skills whilst out with Venture trust, and doing all this whilst having fun and making good friends, with staff members and participants of the course. On the course I learnt to open up to other peoples opinions, trust other people and even overcome some of life’s biggest fears for me. When I talk about this I mean, I’ve always been scared of deep water and heights but with the right support from members and staff I was able to achieve swimming in deep water and I even did an abseil.
But don’t think the course and the learning just ends after the ten days, the skills you learn on this course can be used all through life in many different situations.
My life’s changed for the better, I’m healthier, happier, thriving. I’ve got a career now, I can see a future.
I’m doing a lot more walking now, and I’m trying to do a lot more things that are positive instead of negative. I’m trying to stay focussed, trying to lose weight. Smoking less. My life’s changed a lot, I’m trying to get rid of all the negative things, just taking one day at a time. And keep focussed on things that are making me happy, and I’m just basically trying to take one day at a time.
I feel great, I feel a lot better than I’ve done in a long time.
Instead of sitting watching the telly, I want to get up and go for a nine mile walk. I do that three or four times a week now; I’d never have thought of doing that before. I want to pass my computer course, and I want to open my own fast food van. And I want to stay out of trouble – that’s a biggie. And I’m not doing bad, I’m coming on three years [without getting into trouble], and I just want to enjoy my life. My attitude’s changed, I’m not as aggressive, I walk away from situations that would have got me into trouble before.
[If I hadn’t come on the Venture Trust course] I’d be in jail, I’d be sitting in Cornton Vale.
There’s no two ways about it. It’d be the same old me, I’d of gone for a bevvie, gone fighting, be in the jail. Now I just go for a walk, total change of attitude, I’m nicer to people now, treat people with more respect. I see people in a different light now eh, before I used to think they were all against me, and I was just fighting for survival, I never used to bother about anybody. But it’s different now, I see them differently.
[If I could go back to the beginning] I wouldn’t go to Applecross for a week, I’d go for a year!