Our Inspiring Young Futures programmes allows young people to realise their potential.
With the support of funders like The Robertson Trust, the three-phase personal development programme allows young people to discover that there are strengths that they didn't think they had, draw on aspects of their background and personality to solve problems.
Other key skills include communication, time management, accountability, establishing trust, dealing with challenging situations, and giving and receiving feedback.
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. With the sustained support and new skills, young people are moving towards further education, training and work.
Watch the video below to find out more about this wonderful partnership that is changing young people's lives:
To achieve thier mission of improving the quality of life and realising the potential of people and communities in Scotland, The Robertson Trust focus on four high-level outcomes:
- improving outcomes for individuals and communities
- improving capacity of third sector organisations to deliver impact to their beneficiaries
- building and using evidence to inform policy and practice
- developing our own understanding of our role as a funder.
They do this by:
- funding and supporting charitable organisations of all sizes who are committed to achieving positive change for individuals and communities across Scotland
- building understanding of the root causes of problems and testing potential approaches and solutions
- supporting talented young people who may face barriers to education and development
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)
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.”
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:
Lucy spent ten years addicted to heroin. During this time she was also convicted of theft and lost her son to care. Her life had hit rock bottom.
“I was a heroin addict for about ten years and in and out of the criminal justice system. My son went to stay with my mum because I wasn’t looking after myself, and they thought I wasn’t looking after him.”
Today, speaking from the grounds of Perth College Lucy has been clean for over 2 years; at 37 she has returned to education for the first time since she left school at 15.
“I’ve got a portfolio of certificates and I am aiming for a degree with a dissertation in addiction and recovery,” Lucy says.
She has completed peer mentor training with Venture Trust and its partner Move On to help other women caught up in the criminal justice system.
One of Lucy’s proudest achievements was being recognised with the presentation of a local champion award through the criminal justice system.
The system that could have locked her away instead provided her with the opportunity to change her life.
“My life has totally changed. I’m in a brilliant place with my son. I’ve got a fighting chance to get him home. I have my grandchildren on weekends. These are things that would never have happened before,” she says.
“I get up every day and it’s not drugs I think about. I get up and I want to go to college, I want to take the dog for a walk, I want to eat well, sleep well and be healthy.”
Reflecting on her journey with Venture Trust’s Next Steps programme which is funded by the Big Lottery Fund, Lucy explains it was the three-phases of the programme all working together that allowed her to “get her life back”.
Like all of Venture Trust’s programmes, during phase 1 there is support in the participants’ communities which usually lasts for 3-6 months. An outreach worker, in partnership with other agencies, will help the participant to stabilise their lifestyle, so that they're able to embark on (and benefit from) the wilderness phase. The participant will be introduced to other local people in similar circumstances, helping them to build a positive network of peers and supporters. Finally, the participant will receive one-to-one support to identify the choices, actions or behaviours they need to change in order to develop a more sustainable lifestyle.
Phase 2, the wilderness journey or residential, is at the heart of Venture Trust’s programmes. This setting - far removed from a participant’s everyday environment, and often chaotic life - gives people the chance to tackle physical, emotional and social challenges. These challenges are carefully designed to encourage learning and development, to help participants to increase their aspirations, confidence and motivation, and to develop a range of skills for life, learning and work.
“We were not far from Pitlochry, but it could have been a million miles away,” Lucy says. “There were no phones and we took on challenges in the outdoors. But all of these challenges and activities were giving us tools for coping when we returned to our everyday life. Dealing with emotions and anxieties and putting into place an action plan for being back in the community.”
Back in their community during phase 3, each person has access to one-to-one support from a Venture Trust outreach worker. They are supported to achieve their aims, to utilise the skills they have acquired to work towards opportunities such as employment, education, training and voluntary work.
“Venture Trust believed in me. They gave me the support and the drive and it’s changed my life.”
Watch Lucy talk about her Next Steps journey.