• | Fundraising | News

    Venture Trust has teamed up with Network Rail to get lives back on track!

    Working together, we are offering individuals the opportunity to overcome obstacles in their lives and accelerate towards more positive futures. We’re helping people on their personal development journey, getting their lives back on the rails, and not falling into the trap of making obvious puns in any way shape or form.

    In 2013 Network Rail granted funding to support Venture Trust’s work with people who feel their lives have hit the buffers – involved in offending, facing drug/alcohol issues, struggling with unemployment or feeling isolated. Network Rail recognised that Venture Trust could engage individuals with whom many other agencies couldn’t or wouldn’t work. But most importantly, Network Rail also shared an ethos with Venture Trust; that many individuals have the capacity to change, and, with the right support, can flourish and make valuable contributions to their communities. Engineering change if you will...

    The starting point, as with all Venture Trust programmes, is providing intensive support to help individuals develop the confidence, the motivation, the aspiration and the core lifeskills they need to make change possible. Time, space and carefully designed support in wilderness environments away from day-to-day pressures helps participants recognise and unlock skills that many of us take for granted. Recognising the “triggers” that wind us up and how to avoid them; communicating effectively with other people and building positive relationships; how to set goals and stick with them. Most importantly, the wilderness of Scotland demands and reveals self-reliance, helps people celebrate their personal achievements often for the first time in their lives, and builds a sense of self-worth and purpose.

    And did you know, most participants take the train to the starting point of their journeys from as far afield as Exeter, Wick, London and Ipswich? Sometimes it’s the first time they’ve taken a train, and as the train heads towards Scotland’s amazing mountains, rivers and coastlines, individuals start to reflect on their lives at home, what’s working and what’s not, and so the journey of change is already beginning.

    Whilst funding for Venture Trust’s world leading personal development programmes forms a vital component, the partnership with Network Rail also goes well beyond that. We want to offer people employability opportunities, in a sector which is growing with major infrastructure projects across Scotland and the rest of the UK. And we want to help Network Rail in their mission to keep people and the railway safe. So in case there are any engineering jobs going, we’ve done a blueprint for success!

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    Over the next few months, we’ll aim to keep you updated about this partnership and its successes.

    We’ll surprise you with some facts and figures about rail safety.

    We’ll show you photos of the work that Network Rail’s money is supporting in Scotland’s wonderful wilderness.

    We’ll share incredible stories of lives transformed.

    And we’ll stop all this punning, which is frankly de-railing a perfectly good article!

  • | Fundraising | News

    BIG funding for young people in the Highlands

    Fantastic news this morning, with the announcement that the BIG Lottery Fund Scotland's 'Young Start' fund has donated £50,000 to Venture Trust. This donation will support the expansion of our Inspiring Young Futures programme to young people in the Highlands, where we know there's demand from young people and referrers.

    Run by the Big Lottery Fund Scotland for the Scottish Government, Young Start awards money from dormant bank and building society accounts that have seen no customer activity for at least 15 years.

    Venture Trust recieved the largest grant from this funding round, marking the continuation of our fantastic support fdrom the BIG Lottery Fund. Aileen Campbell, Minister for Children and Young People, said: "I've seen first-hand the difference that local initiatives are making to help young people reach their full potential, supported by our partnership with the Big Lottery Fund.

    "This year I'm delighted that a wide variety of projects across Scotland have been successful in securing funding either from Young Start or from the Communities and Families Fund, which together are enabling communities to deliver the right kind of support needed to improve the lives of local children and families."

    Maureen McGinn, chairwoman of the Big Lottery Fund Scotland committee, said: "I am delighted to announce this funding today. Through both Young Start and the Communities and Families Fund, we help ensure Scotland's next generation has the best possible start in life.

    "The awards made today include playgroups and creches working with the very young right up to organisations supporting young people outside the education system.

    "All of them make a huge difference by enabling children and young people to gain the abilities, skills and confidence required for positive and healthy futures."

    We're thrilled by this news, and look forward to reporting our first ever intake of IYF participants in the Highlands!

  • | Fundraising | News

    We've launched an Amazon wishlist

    Ah, kit.

    We buy it, we use it, we store it.
    We use it, we fix it, we patch it.
    We re-purpose it, we use it, we Gaffa tape it.
    Eventually, we replace it.

    ...and now, you can help us with that.

    Inevitably, in our line of work, we need a fair bit of kit. It's not just important, it's vital. It keeps us and our participants safe, dry and warm, and therefore able to focus on the development and discussion activities that are at the heart of our programmes. And as we head into winter, decent kit and equipment becomes even more vital to our work.

    We've launched an Amazon wishlist, where you, our friends and supporters, can donate kit directly to our programmes. It's the easiest and most direct way of seeing exactly where your donation will go, and you'll know that your kit is going directly to use in our 'front line' programme delivery.

    Kit starts from just £1.48, and covers just about every aspect of our wilderness expeditions, so we hope there'll be something to suit all budgets and interests. There's water bottles, wetsuit gloves, boot laces, tent pegs and trangias, to name just a few. Oh, and Gaffa tape, obviously.

    Will you buy us a present this Christmas? It really is a gift that'll last all year long, and which will benefit hundreds of participants through the winter, and into 2014. To donate some kit, just head over to our wishlist.

    Thank you.

  • | Fundraising | News

    A walk around the River Tay watershed: May-June 2014

    This is Stefan Durkacz. In May 2014 he's going to take on an epic challenge - to walk around the watershed of the River Tay - some 290 miles - to raise money for to raise money for Venture Trust and the Scottish Wild Land Group, supported by the British boot manufacturer Alt-Berg.

    This is a huge challenge, estimated to take around 5 weeks to complete. We wanted to find out a bit more about Stefan, and his challenge:

    What exactly is the 'River Tay Catchment'?

    A catchment is the area drained by a river system. The River Tay is Scotland's most extensive river system, draining an area of nearly 2,000 square miles, mostly in the southern and central Highlands. It's also the largest river in Britain in terms of the amount of water it discharges into the sea.

    I'll be walking the entire boundary of the River Tay catchment, starting from Monifieth Sands east of Dundee. The route will follow the watersheds between the River Tay and other river systems, through the eastern Mounth, the central and southern Highlands, and finally along the Ochil Hills from Gleneagles to the North Sea at Tentsmuir Point in north-east Fife.

    Why have you chosen to take on such a challenge?

    I've always loved the outdoors, especially the hills and mountains of Scotland, and have long wanted to take on the challenge of an extended backpacking expedition. I've been guilty of being a Munro bagger in the past, climbing hills and ticking them off the list. More recently I've moved away from this and become more focused on backpacking and long-distance walks, which I think offer greater satisfaction. Most of the areas this walk will take me through I've visited before on day trips. Journeying over the land under my own steam, being self-sufficient, sleeping out in the hills and linking all these places together on foot, is a thrilling prospect, and I expect I'll get to know them much more deeply.

    Turning 40 in 2013 has pushed me to make it happen as well. I felt it was now or never.

    So why this walk in particular? It will take me about a month or so to complete - as I'm married with two children, this is already pushing it! Any more would be asking too much. There's also the fact, as I mentioned, that the walk covers mostly familiar territory. I'm hoping this will increase my chances of success, as my backpacking experience is fairly limited. To paraphrase something I read from veteran backpacker Chris Townsend, the only way to find out if you can get through a long backpacking trip is to get out there and start walking.

    Finally, as I far as I can tell, it's an original route that hasn't been walked in its entirety before. This gives it a bit of an exciting and exploratory feel.

    How challenging is it?

    Because the route follows the high ground between river systems, it's essentially a mountain walk, so will be physically demanding especially if the weather is poor. There are 31 Munros along the Tay catchment boundary, and many other hills, ridges and moors. Most of the route is trackless and tends to stay away from towns and villages. In fact, between the Cairnwell Pass and Drumochter Pass, it crosses some of the remotest hills and moors in Britain. I'll be wild camping mostly, and am hoping for some good early summer weather, rather than the wintry May we had this year. However, this is Scotland, so anything could happen, and I'm prepared for the worst!

    I expect it to be mentally demanding as well. I've never walked this distance before in a single trip, or spent so much time camping in the outdoors. Continuous bad weather can sap morale, and the concentration needed to navigate properly, make sound judgements, and stay safe in poor conditions can be draining.

    Also, although friends and family will walk parts of the route with me, most of the time I'll be on my own. I often enjoy walking and camping solo on short trips, but how I'll cope with extended periods of solitude remains to be seen. Most of all I'll miss my wife and children. I've planned in a few rest days in villages near to the route so we can meet up.

    If success was 100% guaranteed, it wouldn't be much of an adventure. However, with good planning and preparation, there's no reason I can't succeed. Reading the blogs of experienced long-distance backpackers and how they go about it has been especially useful.

    Why have you chosen to support Venture Trust and the Scottish Wild Land Group?

    I was lucky enough to have regular access to the outdoors from a very young age, as my family used to own a house in the Highlands.

    It wasn't until I was a lot older that I began to realise how much I had taken it all for granted. I also began to understand more about issues such as conservation and land ownership, and how threatened our few remaining wild places are by exploitation and development. Sadly, people – especially children – are becoming increasingly detached from nature, and many in positions of power don't seem to understand what's being lost. It's hard to measure the value of wild land in terms of money, but Venture Trust's work proves the value is nevertheless real. Access to the wilderness can help turn even the most difficult lives around.

    So, whilst I initially wanted to do the walk just as a personal challenge, I decided to use it as an opportunity to support Venture Trust, and also Scottish Wild Land Group, a volunteer-run charity that campaigns for the protection and promotion of Scotland's wild land, and publishes a very informative magazine called Wild Land News which everyone who enjoys the outdoors should read.

    How can we keep up to date with the challenge?

    Check out my blog, at, where you can sign up for updates.

    How can we get involved?

    Support Stefan's challenge by sponsoring his two chosen charities:

    Venture Trust:

    and the Scottish Wild Land Group:

    Please, if you can, split your donation between both Venture Trust and Scottish Wild Land Group.

  • | Fundraising | News

    'Divas Reunited' for Venture Trust

    Venture Trust are delighted (and more than a little excited!) to be the chosen charity for the forthcoming 'Divas Reunited' concert by GLITS ladies choir in Edinburgh.

    Come and join us in November at the St. Brides Centre, Edinburgh, for an celebration of 60s pop divas, with all profits being donated to Venture Trust. Fancy dress welcome!

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