At Venture Trust, we're delighted by the news that young people in care in Scotland are to be given greater rights to to continue their care placement until they reach 21.
From April 2015, the Children and Young People Bill will allow for teenagers in residential, foster or kinship care to remain looked after until the age of 21. This development marks a really positive step forward in supporting young people in care to reach positive futures, and as such we strongly welcome the news. The current system, which frequently sees young people leaving care aged 16 or 17, leaves them without the support networks they need to navigate their way to a positive future.
At Venture Trust, young people joining our Inspiring Young Futures programme are frequently addressing a range of challenges in their lives as they approach adulthood and independance. Whilst our support effectively helps young people to overcome the issues they face and work towards more positive futures, we know that consistent relationships and ongoing support networks are vital in enabling young people to reach their potential.
This breakthrough has long been championed by our friends and colleagues at Who Cares? Scotland, who are also asking people to pledge support to their pledge2listen campaign which aims to tackle the negative stereotypes which exist in communities up and down the country towards kids from care backgrounds.
This story has been widely covered by the BBC, if you'd like to read more.
A change for the best can offer new hope to some of our most disadvantaged youngsters, says Joe Connelly.
Last New Year, like many others, I promised myself I would make some changes in my life. I was determined to take up swimming more regularly, finally quit smoking for good, and make more time in my hectic schedule to spend quality time with my family. I’ve done well with the first and third of these goals, but have failed miserably with the second. This week, wondering whether I should just “give up and give in”, I turned to an unconventional source for advice and inspiration.
Let me explain. Over the past year, I have been privileged to meet literally hundreds of young people who vowed to change their lives and who have triumphantly, resoundingly, emphatically achieved their goals.
Last year, Sharon told me this: “I’ve had very dark thoughts, times when I’ve considered it might be better if I’m not here”. This year, she’s a prize-winning student at an Outdoor Education College, where she’s learning to share her skills to teach and inspire other young people.
Last Christmas, David was out of work, becoming increasingly despondent as he struggled to find an employer who would take him on. This Christmas, things look quite different: “I am no longer unemployed. After so long without a job, I’m really delighted to have been given a chance.”
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.
Yesterday, 7th November, saw Cabinet Secretary for Justice Kenny MacAskill launch his second annual progress report to the Parliament on the steps taken to implement the Commission on Women Offenders’ recommendations. Venture Trust's Next Steps programme is enabling women involved in offending to increase their employability, self-esteem and stability - all vital factors in supporting desistance from crime. Here, we highlight the importance of these factors in achieving real success in reducing reoffending amongst women from chaotic backgrounds.
Much of the progress report is cause for celebration. We're pleased to see a real commitment to long-term mentoring support, and a focus on the importance of an individually-tailored approach to enabling women to move away from offending. We're pleased, too, to see the great work of our friends and partners with whom we work closely at the Glasgow 218 Centre, Dundee Criminal Justice Social Work team, and the Willow centre in Edinburgh getting the profile and praise they deserve.
We share Mr. MacAskill's view "that there are a number of areas where progress will require substantial input and support from services outwith the criminal justice system if we are to deliver the changes the Commission recommended", and we're playing an increasingly important role in the 'SHINE' mentoring service for women. Just last week we led training and awareness sessions for all SHINE mentors.
Whilst progress has been made, there is very much still to do. Mr. MacAskill's report described the aims of the work to date as to "encourage women participating in the programme to consider their own offending behaviour and, as a result, reduce their offending in the future", and that the role of a mentor to "be persistent in engaging with a client who may be reluctant or whose resolve is lacking".
It's here that the report is at risk of missing a vital point. For many of the women we've supported via our Next Steps programme (over 50 of them since the report of the Commission, and more than double that number over the past three years), it's not simply a 'reluctance', or a 'lack of resolve' that leads to their offending. It's more fundamental than that, and harder to tackle. As we discussed in the Scotsman recently, more often their offending is meshed within a complex history of abuse, belittlement, isolation and poverty that has left women bereft of the confidence, motivation and vital lifeskills to take a different pathway; as much a consequence of their history as an active choice. It's certainly not the case that women can simply 'reconsider' their offending.
As such, the focus should not be on 'persuading' women to 'give up' offending, but on empowering them to make more positive choices, helping them develop the lifeskills they need to secure their futures, and providing specialist support to enable long-term, sustainable change in all areas of their lives. The support needs to be personalised, tackling each individual’s underlying belief and abilities rather than just their offending behaviours. It's this approach that forms the cornerstone of Venture Trust's Next Steps programme, and it's the reason that the women we support are able to make - and sustain - real change in their lives.
The recognition of the importance of tackling women's offending is to be praised, and the commitment to working toward more effective support is something Venture Trust supports 100%. Let's be careful, though, that we're enabling women to take charge of the change they're making in their lives, not simply replacing one 'intervention' with another.
To support our work with women seeking to make positive changes in their lives, please click here.
On Thursday 24th October, Venture Trust was proud to launch a new film about our work, in the company of some of our key friends and supporters.
The film featuring footage from our expeditions and programmes, as well as interviews with participants and those who deliver our work. It’s a compelling ‘inside look’ at the impact and importance of our programmes. Do have a look at the film, below, for an insight into our work.
Here's one of the highlights of the evening; a speech by Tammie, one of our participants:
"Hello, my name is Tammie and I have been getting support from Venture Trust since March. Before that, my life was a bit aimless, with little to no motivation and no idea how to achieve what I wanted in the future. I first heard of Venture Trust via Impact Arts and decided to try them out. I took part in some activity days and a 7 day wilderness journey in the Cairngorm Mountains. I found the wilderness journey quite tough through a mixture of the activities, being away from my family for a week and the weather being a bit rubbish. I gained a lot of support from the staff and made some new friends. After the journey, I got support with college applications and volunteer opportunities. I now have more things to do, have more ideas for my future and feel a bit better about myself. I have gained a lot from Venture Trust and I feel that other young people would benefit from the same opportunities that I got".
We also used the opportunity to launch our new brochure and annual review, which provides further insight into the value of our work.
This film was produced by Ross Finnie, whose placement with Venture Trust was generously supported by Third Sector Internships Scotland. We are also grateful to Curcuma Flowers, Edinburgh Photographic Society and the Hilton Edinburgh Grosvenor, who supported the premiere event. Thanks also go to Angel Telecom for donating our top raffle prize - an i-pad mini!