Next Steps

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Key information

Age range: 16+

Location: Across Scotland

Who it's for: Women who've been involved in offending or at high risk of offending.

How to apply

Our Next Steps programme is for women whose chaotic and disadvantaged backgrounds have led to their involvement in offending or means that they are at high risk of offending.

This programme is delivered in conjunction with criminal justice partner agencies that are engaging with groups of women throughout Scotland. The programme is designed to support women of all ages, many have experienced difficult backgrounds - often involving abuse, domestic violence, substance misuse, unemployment and broken relationships.

We support participants to identify the changes they want to make in their lives, then develop skills, motivation and aspirations for a more positive future. Participants are supported by our outreach teams before experiencing an intensive five day wilderness journey followed by ongoing community-based support from us and other partners.

The programme is proven to enable participants to reduce their risks of re-offending, and make positive changes in their lives and behaviour. Monitoring data from the last five years for Next Steps shows that:

  • 86% of participants showed increased self-confidence
  • 83% improved their employability skill
  • 65% showed behaviours and circumstances likely to reduce risks of reconviction
  • 50% improved their relationships with those around them, and were making increased use of services and opportunities in their community (such as libraries, gyms or doctors' surgeries)
  • Over a third of participants who went on a wilderness journey progressed into employment, education, training or volunteering.

In 2012 the programme was externally evaluated by the University of Edinburgh, who found that:

“The ‘Next Steps’ programme had a positive effect on participants’ personal and social development. The type of positive life changes the women have made include; abstaining from alcohol; desisting crime and taking up (or trying to find) volunteer or paid work”.

University of Edinburgh evaluation, 2012.

You can download the full report here.

A further three-year external evaluation of the programme, funded by the Big Lottery Fund, will report in late 2017.

Funding partners

  • European Social Fund

    Funding from the European Social Fund is supporting our four core programmes.

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  • City of Edinburgh Council

    The City of Edinburgh Council supports three of our programmes - Inspiring Young Futures, Living Wild and Next Steps.

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  • Porticus

    Porticus supports charitable projects that promote human dignity and social justice through a grant giving programme in England, Wales and Scotland. They are currently supporting our Next Steps programme.

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  • Spirit of 2012 - Sporting Equality Fund

    Spirit of 2012 is a funding charity, established with a £47m endowment from the Big Lottery Fund. It funds partners across the UK that provide opportunities in sports, physical activity, arts and culture, volunteering and social action. Spirit was founded to continue and recreate the spirit of pride, positivity and social connectedness that people experienced during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It invests to create good outcomes for people and communities.

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  • The Goldsmiths' Company Charity

    Over the centuries the Goldsmiths' Company has continually supported charitable activities. At the end of the 19th century, 57 separate charities within the Company were recorded. Today, following the amalgamation of most of them, there is just one principal charity, The Goldsmiths’ Company Charity, which supports our Next Steps programme through it's 'general welfare' category.

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Delivery partners

  • Move On

    We are delighted to be working with Move On in delivering peer mentoring training for our Next Steps and Positive Futures participants. We also work in partnership with Move On to deliver the Reaching Higher programme. Move On’s focus is on supporting people to make positive change in their lives.

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  • Shine Women's Mentoring Service

    We're delighted to be a partner in the Shine Women's Mentoring Service - a Public Social Partnership led by Sacro. The service is delivered by Sacro, Apex Scotland, Barnardo’s, Circle, The Wise Group, Turning Point Scotland, Access to Industry, Venture Trust. Other partners are Scottish Prison Service, Association of Directors of Social Work and Scotland’s eight Criminal Justice Authorities.

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If you have a question about Next Steps or want to find out more about being referred to the programme please contact us at or 0131 228 7700.

To make a referral, please download and complete the Venture Trust Referral Form. Please note that whilst the form content may be filled out in Word, the front cover requires a hand signature.

Venture Trust Referral Form

Venture Trust Referral Form (Compatible with Word97-2003)

Completed forms should be emailed to your local outreach worker. If you are not sure who this is, please contact the relevant hub co-ordinator using the details below:

Venture Trust Hub


Hub Co-ordinator

Edinburgh, Lothians & Fife

Edinburgh, East Lothian, West Lothian, Midlothian, Borders, Fife

Forth, Tay & Northern

Stirling/Clacks, Falkirk, Dundee, Perth/Angus, Moray, Aberdeen, Highlands

Glasgow & West

Ayrshire, Glasgow, Rutherglen, Inverclyde, West Dumbarton, Argyle & Bute, North Lanarkshire, Dumfries and Galloway, South Lanarkshire

More information about referrals to our Glasgow & West hub.

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