Life has not always been easy for Annabelle McPherson; in fact, it has been a very hard journey. But that hasn’t stopped her from turning things around, and doing great things for others. Her latest escapade? She is swimming 96 miles, the length of the River Tweed, to raise funds for Venture Trust.
Annabelle was struggling with alcohol addiction, which was having a very negative impact on her life, when she was referred to us through her social worker. In June 2015 Annabelle enrolled on our Next Steps course, a programme specifically designed for women in the criminal justice system, funded by The Big Lottery and a number of other trusts and foundations.
It provided enough space away from her existing environment, for Annabelle to begin on the road to recovery and positive change. She has gone on to train as a Venture Trust mentor, helping those in a similar situation to herself, and sought help with both AA and Addaction. Annabelle also attended our Speak Up employability training sessions, volunteered, and enrolled on a further Venture Trust programme, Living Wild, in 2017.
Annabelle comments, "If someone had told me they could change the way I think and feel in five days, I would never have believed it ... until I became involved with Venture Trust. They helped me to learn that although alcohol took a lot from me, it didn’t mean my life was over. It gave me hope that I could recover, and be a responsible and worthwhile person in society. For this I cannot thank Venture Trust enough.”
Throughout the summer, Annabelle is swimming at her local pool in Duns, Berwickshire, clocking up 96 miles (154 km), 6,144 lengths of the pool, or the entire length of the River Tweed. To date, she is almost half way through and aims to complete in August. Annabelle is raising funds for Venture Trust and donations can be made online: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/AnnabelleMcPherson
Amelia Morgan, Chief Executive Officer at Venture Trust, comments, “We are really overwhelmed by Annabelle’s determination to support others, and to take on this remarkable challenge for Venture Trust. She has already come a long way, both in her personal life, and in the pool, and she is an inspiration to anyone going through difficult times. On behalf of Venture Trust, thank you Annabelle!”
To find out more about our Next Steps programme, please click here.
Venture Trust really is putting its money where its mouth is, and supporting personal development, learning, education and training - even in those still at school!
A recent addition to the Venture Trust team was Amelia Whistance Holmes, just 14 years old and looking to learn more about the charity sector, and the work that Venture Trust undertakes to help people at the very edges of society. Amelia was on work experience from Plockton High School in the Highlands, shadowing her mother, Jess Whistance, and learning about Communications and Marketing, as well as how Venture Trust charity operates, and the programmes that it runs.
Amelia comments, "There is a lot more to Venture Trust than I thought. The work it is doing to help people who are struggling with really difficult things in life, is amazing. The programmes that take people out into the outdoors and teach them about working together, and new skills, is such a great way of making things interesting and at the same time is helping to change lives. I learnt so much. I don't think I want to go into marketing and communications like my mum as I realised that there was a lot more research and emails and spending time on the phone organising things than I expected. Even setting up a story for television was not as interesting as I imagined - there was a lot of time spent writing notes and changing plans, and preparing people - not very glamourous!"
Amelia was tasked with researching ways to raise the profile of Venture Trust and its programmes to different audiences, sourcing new publications and digital resources. She was also tasked with looking at Venture Mor, the growing social enterprise that works to provide a sustainable income for Venture Trust programmes.
Jess Whistance, Communications & Marketing Manager at Venture Trust commented, "It was great having Millie working with me. It was a chance for me to show her the really crucial work that goes on at Venture Trust, and to show her what it is that I do. She was really inspired by Venture Trust, and how they support people to change their lives - how can you not be? But my job? I am not sure I will be seeing Millie following in my PR footsteps any time soon!"
For more information about Venture Trust's programmes, please click here.
A group of Glasgow based young carers celebrated the progress they had made with a film screening at the GMAC in Glasgow. The group of young people had, over previous months, taken a unique journey ‘back through the centuries,’ living the life of a Highland Drover.
A film of the 8 day wilderness journey, which utilised the outdoors as a catalyst for personal development, and learning new skills, was screened at the GMAC Film Centre on Thursday 8 June. The project, run by Venture Trust with Historic Environment Scotland, saw youngsters cover up to ten miles daily on a week’s wilderness journey across the Highlands, learning about routes taken by drovers and how they lived.
The group are all young carers involved in providing different levels of support to family members. They found time to go every Thursday after school to Venture Trust’s centre in Duke Street to prepare the ground for the wilderness journey.
In their week in the wild, the carers followed droving routes from Argyll to Stirling, learning about folklore and heritage of the drovers – a history which spans the centuries from the 14th to the 1940s.
Venture Trust worked with the group on personal development, safety and survival in the wilderness. The young people also learned about endurance and resilience by camping, cooking and sleeping outdoors just as the drovers would have done.
A major aim of the project is to encourage more young people to learn about Scotland’s history and heritage. The carers visited historic sites on the wilderness journey, including a stone - floored longhouse at Auchindrain Township near Inveraray, and the grave of Rob Roy, while also trying their hand at stone masonry in Stirling Castle.
James Turner, Historic Environment Scotland said: “We are proud to be working with Venture Trust. It’s been so rewarding to celebrate the environment with these inspirational young adults.”
Venture Trust will follow up on the wilderness journey by giving the carers one-to-one support for the next 12 months. The week in the wilderness allowed the young people to develop new skills in editing, photography, and filming, as well as learning crucial life skills in teamwork, responsibility, and communication; all of which will open up new possibilities for future training, volunteering and employment.
Every young person will get a copy of their film and certificates for completing the journey. The project, called ‘Young Roots’ received a grant of £49,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, advice and practical support from Historic Environment Scotland.
Today marks the end of Volunteers’ Week Scotland (1-7 June 2017), which has seen charities celebrate the vital contribution made by volunteers the length and breadth of the country – the work of volunteers contributes an estimated £2.6 billion every year to the Scotland.
Nikki has been volunteering with the funding team at our Edinburgh office for two days a week since September 2016, and has made a great contribution to our fundraising efforts, particularly focussing on making applications to Trusts & Foundations. As someone who has a love of the outdoors and a desire to help people negotiate difficult life situations, she told us,
"I’m very much drawn to the ethos and values of the Venture Trust. I’m inspired by how the charity combines lessons and values that can be gained by wilderness challenges with very practical, valuable life skills once back home."
Nikki, who lives in Edinburgh with her husband and children, also volunteers as a Beaver Scout Leader, and loves getting herself and her family outdoors. She has taken on a number of charity challenges over the years, completing the Edinburgh Marathon for us in 2014.
"It was an amazing experience running the marathon for Venture Trust in 2014- the fundraising team were really encouraging and appreciative of my efforts and I knew then it was for a great cause.
“Now, volunteering in Venture Trust’s head offices, I get to see more of where the fundraising money goes and the amazing difference the charity Trust makes to people's lives. I would heartily encourage anyone considering doing a sponsored challenge to consider doing it for Venture Trust.”
Nicola Clark, our Employability & HR Officer commented,
“Volunteers bring a unique range of skills and abilities to complement those of our fantastic staff team, and create additional capacity to develop key pieces of work. In 2016/17 volunteers contributed an incredible 890 hours to supporting our fundraising, finance and administrative functions.
“We recognise the generosity of individuals giving up their time and sharing their expertise with us, and pride ourselves on ensuring all volunteering opportunities are of value to the individual too; whether through tailored and supported inductions, providing opportunity for volunteers to attend in-house training opportunities or registering volunteers for Saltire Awards to formally acknowledge hours committed to Venture Trust.”
A huge thank you to all our volunteers, past and present, who have freely contributed their time, skills, and enthusiasm to support Venture Trust.
Upcoming opportunities include volunteer positions on our Board of Directors.
If you are interested in volunteering with Venture Trust please get in touch with Nicola on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0131 228 7700.
Venture Trust became the second organisation to sign a Sustainable Growth Agreement (SGA) with SEPA on Thursday (25 May). The event took place at our National Participation Centre in Stirling, and showed a commitment to helping create environmental success which also delivers social and economic benefits for Scotland.
Sustainable Growth Agreements are voluntary, formal agreements with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA); a core component of the delivery of SEPA’s Regulatory Strategy, One Planet Prosperity.
The commitments in the SGA with Venture Trust will help to develop new ways of working collaboratively with SEPA, to provide support for people in society who are marginalised, vulnerable and living chaotic lifestyles. Through a number of empowering initiatives, including opportunities to experience work and move towards employment, the goal is to break a cycle of disadvantage.
In the longer term, the SGA aims to instil a strong connection with the health and well-being benefits of a robust environment by developing bespoke programmes with SEPA, and potentially other partners, with the aim of delivering a strong focus on environmental outcomes.
The launch event included short speeches from SEPA’s Chief Executive, Terry A’Hearn and our Chief Executive Officer, Amelia Morgan, stressing the importance of working in partnership to generate multiple benefits, contributing to Scotland’s socio-economic and environmental prospects.
Terry A’Hearn, said:
“In the 21st century we are faced with a world dominated by problems which affect each and every one of us, but we also recognise that our environment underpins our social and economic success. So we need to find ways to create environmental success in ways which also deliver social and economic benefits. This Sustainable Growth Agreement with Venture Trust is a great example of how SEPA can bring environment, society and economy together to create real and lasting benefits for the people of Scotland.”
Amelia Morgan, said:
“We are delighted to be working with SEPA; the Sustainable Growth Agreement will enable us to partner with other like-minded organisations that can offer a wealth of benefit to those people that we support through our personal development programmes. This is a significant step in collaboration, to provide employment, training and volunteering opportunities for those who, through difficult life circumstances, find themselves in chaotic and vulnerable situations. Combining social and environmental objectives in order to provide benefit and opportunity for those who need it most, is something we are eager to embark upon. We look forward to getting started on this exciting venture!”
The full SGA document signed by SEPA and Venture Trust, is available here.
If any businesses are interested in finding out more about working in partnership with Venture Trust please contact Kate at email@example.com or 0131 228 7700.