It's not every day you get the chance to run over 26 miles through London... it's not every day you would want to run over 26 miles through London, but Jess is doing just that in aid of Venture Trust!
This year celebrates The London Marathon's 35th anniversary, and it's a very special year for Venture Trust too- our first ever London Marathon runner will pound the streets of the capital to raise money for Venture Trust! Jess, who is the Business Development Manager of Venture Trust's social enterprise, Venture Mòr, is currently training hard in the outstanding natural landscapes of Scotland with her team of Applecross runners.
She is joined by Sarah, who's is raising money for Fight for Sight, and 'Granddad Gerry' who's raising money for Prostate Cancer UK. Together they have organised a number of events, from Zumba-thons, to bake sales, micro-marathons, to film nights to raise their pledged targets of a whopping £2,000 each for their chosen charity. You can follow their progress on Facebook, Twitter, and on their website and blog too.
On why she decided to take on the challenge, Jess told us:
"I have been blown away by the good things [Venture Trust does] for disadvantaged young adults through outdoor adventure. A lot of the people who come through the Venture Trust's doors have been missed or even turned away by society. It is the hard work, patience and utter brilliance of the people at this organization that really make a difference to so many young lives.
The money raised for the Venture Trust will go some way towards funding more places for young people that, because of their past experiences, have become marginalised and vulnerable and are living chaotic lifestyles. The Venture Trust wilderness courses use a combination of counselling, constructive support, practical help and outdoor adventure to provide individuals with the capacity to make positive changes, and to take responsibility for their lives.
I work for Venture Mòr, the newly established social enterprise wholly owned by Venture Trust. We are made up of three parts: an outdoor activity company providing adventure holidays across the Highlands; a large hub in the form of Hartfield House hostel in Applecross, and; a pledge to provide a springboard into the world of work for disadvantaged young adults. So raising funds for Venture Trust is an extension of what we are trying to do through Venture Mòr.
I will be working for my money, hosting regular events and putting myself through my paces every week in the spectacularly steep hills of Applecross. For full details of all our events and training, check the Team Applecross Run London facebook page."
Please pop over to Jess' fundraising page to make a donation and cheer her on... afterall, she's the one doing the leg work... 26 miles of it!
If you feel like taking on a similar challenge, please do have a look at our events page!
Venture Trust is delighted to announce today that we have received funding of £60,000 from the Scottish Government Housing Voluntary Grant Scheme. This funding supports 24 places on our 'Transitions to Independent Living' programme for young people from social housing and homelessness support agencies in Scotland in 2015/16.
Venture Trust’s ‘Transitions to Independent Living’ programme has been running for nearly 5 years and is designed to help young people resident in supported accommodation to develop their confidence and employability, increasing their access to local services, and establish sustainable lifestyles. The programme has been successful and is popular with the participants, referral networks and partners. It is regularly proven to better equip participants with the skills and attributes needed to access employment, education, training, or volunteering as well as offering a catalytic shift in attitude and perspective that helps participants plan their move into independent accommodation.
Venture Trust developed the ‘Transitions’ programme to address the unique needs and circumstances facing young people in supported housing situations. Using our established and effective personal development curriculum, based on Choice Theory and Reality Therapy, the programme gives each participant the opportunity to join a 7 to 10 day wilderness expedition, where they are given time, space and intensive support in a wilderness setting, where boundary-stretching challenges serve as a vehicle for learning, reflection and discussion as a group and on a 1-to-1 basis.
Mark Bibbey, Venture Trust Chief Executive commented:
“Venture Trust is delighted to received funding for the second year from the Scottish Housing Voluntary Grant Scheme for our Transitions to Independent Living programme. This investment offers 24 young people in Scotland who are currently experiencing, or are at risk of, unstable housing or homelessness a lifeline to undertake a development programme using the wilderness and outdoors as a catalyst for learning new life skills such as communication, planning, problem solving, consequential thinking and how to take responsibility for actions. The people we support are often the ‘hardest to reach’ and feel that opportunities are out-with their grasp. By focusing on life skills, we help nurture an individual’s confidence and motivation to make positive changes in their life and ideally to move into stable accommodation and on to work, education or training. Without support we risk leaving these young people behind and to uncertain futures.”
A huge thank you to the Scottish Government Housing Voluntary Grant Scheme and we look forward to another successful year of Transitions!
You can read more about our funding from the Scottish Government Housing Voluntary Grant Scheme on the Scottish Government's website. You can also have a look at our key 'Transitions' referral partners here.
Now, we’re not just being rude... participants will be just that, on their bikes on four 10 day Living Wild Courses with a twist! We’re delighted to introduce Venture Trust’s “The Change Cycle: supporting young people who are involved in offending into outdoors recreation and learning”.
Following two successful initial cycling pilots in 2013-14 match-funded by the Big Lottery’s “Investing in Ideas”, and building upon the well-established Living Wild- Change for Change programme with the support of funding from Scottish Natural Heritage, this new programme introduces participants to bikes and cycling, not only in their local environment, but also in the Eastern Cairngorms – an area of outstanding natural beauty but with a wealth of wilderness trails offering great flexibility for cycling expeditions.
This project will work with young people sentenced to Community Payback Orders & facing multiple social and psychological barriers and barriers to accessing and experiencing nature and landscapes in Scotland. Venture Trust will for the first time use cycling activities to introduce them to outdoor activities, to realise the recreational value of such activities, and to learn the vital life skills required to make and sustain positive changes in their lives.
‘The Change Cycle’ consists of the three phases we see in the Living Wild programme, but additionally, phase 3 of the project includes the facilitation of participants by Venture Trust outreach staff to access existing cycling groups/ organisations which offer local and affordable ways to enjoy the outdoors. These will provide participants sustained opportunities to experience nature and landscapes.
The Change Cycle in Action
To begin their personal development journey in the Highlands, participants on the latest ‘Change Cycle’ programme started with a walking expedition. The participants used this part of the journey to really get to know one another... and got to know true Scottish weather in the process (everything from downpours to glorious sunshine).
They started each morning with 1-to-1 support sessions setting their own individual goals, enabling participants to focus on personal development throughout the day. Participants were given their own journals to record these goals in and set a new personal goal each morning. Not only did this get them into the practise of planning ahead, but also got them thinking about what they wanted to include in their ‘Action Plans’ which were completed on day nine and implemented at home.
The second part of the journey was completed on mountain bikes. The participants spent 3 full days on 2 wheels, cycling from camp to camp. The bikes were introduced with a skills session to make sure participants had a thorough understanding of the basics of biking: braking, gears, body position, and speed were all discussed. The bikes took participants through a number of different terrains including farmland, hillsides, and forests; they even managed to cover a huge 25 kilometres in just one day!
A number of kind landowners gave participants permission to have camp fires which made for a nice warm end to the day and the perfect setting for socialising and evening reviews. Head torches were out by 10:30 sharp, but no one minded the early nights- the snoring could be heard from miles away! The group wild camped for 6 nights and even had a night in a Venture Trust tipi.
During the course, participants looked at how to build appropriate relationships with one another as well taking personal responsibility for kit, equipment, and the environment. The group concentrated their efforts into conserving the areas they used and ensured all the rubbish that accumulated over the course was disposed of properly.
On the last night, the participants were involved in individual development sessions to focus their attention on home life and what changes they would like to make when they finish the course. The group completed their ‘Action Plans’ and enjoyed a hot celebration meal in the evening. There was a final course review, where the group discussed the highs and lows of the course and the night was finished off with a course slideshow. Each participant received their own certificates, and according to the field team, ‘they earned every word on them!’
John Muir Award
Another exciting addition to the Living Wild programme is the opportunity for participants to complete the John Muir Discovery Level Award as part of their wilderness journey.
In our latest ‘Change Cycle’ wilderness expedition participants directly experienced how wildlife interacts with the wilderness, for example Sand Martins nesting in the banks of a river and Ospreys swooping to catch fish. The group took responsibility by employing “leave no trace” camping methods including organising litter sweeps, burying human waste, only collecting fallen wood for fires, digging fire pits and ensuring they filled them in afterwards. They also kept a record of the bird species they saw (some of which include Buzzards, Oystercatchers, Lapwings, and Great Spotted Woodpeckers) and the locations in which the spotted them.
Following the end of the wilderness the group split into three groups and each delivered a presentation which included a route description, more information about some of the bird species they had recorded, and how they took responsibility for conserving the wild places they had journeyed through. We are delighted that they all achieved this prestigious award!
Venture Trust have included cycling in four Living Wild wilderness journey courses in this year. The first of these ran in August 2014 with the support of Scottish Natural Heritage and had a phenomenal response from the participants and the staff!
Good luck to previous and future ‘Change Cycle’ participants and a huge thank you to Scottish Natural Heritage, and the Big Lottery’s “Investing in Ideas” for their invaluable support, and to the Peter Harrison Foundation for funding our vital kit and equipment.
“Life is like riding a bicycle. In order to keep your balance, you must keep moving.” - Albert Einstein
Change and Transition: The Hero’s Journey!
Deciding that you want to make a step change in your life and making it happen is a period of transition that is challenging and exciting in equal measure. Much like a journey, if you can be guided and supported along the route you have chosen you will have a better chance of reaching your destination. If you journey for a while with other people in a similar situation it is a much richer experience. An experience punctuated by the scenery, the stops you make, and the views and insights that you and your fellow travellers will share along the way. Imagine a journey where you can see yourself differently and be seen differently by others...
Venture Trust’s ‘ Transitions to Independent Living’ programme is such a journey. The programme, which has been running for nearly 5 years, is designed to help young people resident in supported accommodation to develop their confidence and employability, increasing their access to local services and establish sustainable lifestyles. The programme has been successful and is popular with the participants, referral networks and partners. It is regularly proven to better equip participants with the skills and attributes needed to access employment, education, training, or volunteering as well as offering a catalytic shift in attitude and perspective that helps participants plan their move into independent accommodation.
Venture Trust developed the ‘Transitions’ programme to address the unique needs and circumstances facing young people in supported housing situations. Using our established and effective personal development curriculum, based on Choice Theory and Reality Therapy, the programme gives each participant the opportunity to join a 10-day wilderness expedition, where they are given time, space and intensive support in a wilderness setting, where boundary-stretching challenges serve as a vehicle for learning, reflection and discussion as a group and on a 1-to-1 basis
The ‘Transitions’ programme has several unique features :
- It works very closely with a network of supported accommodation providers, taking referrals from all over the UK. A programme with a truly national reach
- A bursary scheme is now a key part of the programme which allows a wider network of partners , increased places and increased accessibility of the programme to participants by offering subsidised places
- It is a journey both literally and metaphorically. Most participants will take a train to Inverness or another agreed location in the Scottish Highlands, where they are met by Venture Trust staff. Previous participants have travelled from Foyers all over the UK, including as far south as Eastbourne, Plymouth and Truro. The independent journey to northern Scotland is a core part of the experience, challenging participants to be self-determined and self-reliant from the outset.
The Bursary scheme has proved popular in concept and in execution. It is supported by the Joseph Rank Trust and is a good example of partnership working that allows Venture Trust to deliver a targeted and specific programme to the greatest number of participants where the need is greatest. This pioneering approach has elicited much interest as a model for both programme funding and delivery. The Joseph Rank Trust bursary scheme and the places that it funds are referred from organisations grounded in the Christian ethos and practice, but who support young people of all faiths and none. This reflects the common values that we share and our commitment to helping the less fortunate members of society.
Since the ‘Transitions’ programme started in 2009 over 125 young people from all over the UK have participated, with referrals from over 40 different referral routes and organisations. Our most recent ‘Transitions’ programme took place earlier this summer at the beginning of July (the start of the midge season in Scotland). A glimpse into the participant journey demonstrates the impact that the ‘Transition’ programme has.
Shona (not her real name), a referral from the Foyer network was the beneficiary of a Joseph Rank Trust bursary. She travelled from London to Inverness to start her wilderness expedition earlier this spring. Her progress towards addressing her personal development needs was commented upon by a staff member
‘Although she showed confidence to talk in front of the group from the beginning of the course she demonstrated an increase in her confidence to assert herself. To begin with she often agreed with others opinions but as the course progressed she began to be able to express alternative opinions. She was able to openly and maturely disagree and talk up in a conversation about ‘exclusive relationships’.
Kevin (not his real name) took part in a wilderness expedition earlier this summer and impressed many of the staff team with his attitude and approach whilst on the expedition and after returning home. His outreach worker commented on the positive turn that he has taken:
‘Kevin returned from the course with a clear idea of what his action plan would be and stated the support he got from VT field team staff was the best he's ever experienced . He wants to thank staff for believing in him and giving him back his self respect and self belief as well as the ability to go forwards in life helping others in similar situations to himself. He is now working as a peer support drug and alcohol worker for the NHS ...’
The programme continues to be popular having real relevance and impact for those participants who undertake this challenging journey. A journey which helps them to shape, change and influence their future and that enables them to reach their destination.
Venture Trust is delighted to announce today a new partnership with Craigie's Farm Deli and Cafe!
Craigies Farm Deli and Cafe, situated in South Queensferry, offers pick your own fruit, an impressive selection of groceries, cheeses, and butchery, a fabulous cafe, and a chance to have wander around the farm and a look at their animals... including their chickens which are partial to a bit of radio (seriously!). Venture Trust is delighted to have been picked as Craigie's Farm Charity of the Year 2014 and is excited about the year to come working with this dedicated, local family business.
It was a tough decision for John and Kirsteen, owners of Craigie's, but they were particularly impressed with how Venture Trust enables young adults experiencing multiple disadvantages get their lives back on track.
John Sinclair, owner of Craigie's said:
“We hope that we can not only demonstrate our personal support for Venture Trust but contribute through fundraising and other community based work. We hope that our community growing initiative and peaceful, outdoor space will provide an opportunity and environment to help the Venture Trust participants to recognise and meet their needs for change.
“I think it’s very important that a local business such as ours contributes something back into the local community as a thank you for the loyal custom of so many people from the area.
"We are excited to work with the Venture Trust team and hope to have a good deal of positive news to report over coming months."
Paddy Cassidy, Fundraising Manager at Venture Trust, said:
"I am delighted that Craigie’s has chosen Venture Trust as their Charity of the Year 2014. We look forward to working with John and Kirsteen and the rest of their team over the year ahead in what we are sure will be a promising and fruitful partnership. This presents many opportunities which will be of mutual benefit to Venture Trust’s existing and future supporters, Craigie’s existing and future new customers, and the young people who we will support and work with together. I am impressed with John and Kirsteen’s personal qualities and their commitment to engaging with young people who are experiencing multiple disadvantages. Their belief in putting something back in order to help others and their willingness to engage with our participants forms the basis for a successful partnership.
"The details of the partnership programme will be worked up towards the end of the summer. This will include Venture Trust and Craigie’s having a visible and complementary brand presence at the entrance to the farm shop and cafe, with visitors and customers being invited to make a modest donation of £1 when they make their purchases. The farm is an ideal venue and location for the young people with whom we work to engage in the outdoors and we hope to host personal development focussed activities at Craigie’s throughout the year. There will be opportunities for the staff at Craigie’s to take part in fundraising events and for our young participants to improve their employability skills through work experience placements and potential employment during peak times throughout the seasons.
"Venture Trust and Craigie’s are a natural and complementary fit and we look forward to creating and sharing the stories and successes that will emerge. There will be something of interest to communicate to all of Craigie’s visitors, customers, and staff and Venture Trust’s participants and valued supporters. Bringing staff, participants, customers, and supporters together in one location will be a unique feature of the relationship."
Please do head over to Craigie's Farm's website where you can read more about what they offer. You can also follow Craigie's Farm on Twitter and Facebook! We'll be keeping you posted over the coming year about this great new partnership, so be sure to keep checking back!