On the 19th of May, something happened which had not occurred for almost three years. Nearly every one of our 60+ team members gathered in person at our Stirling base to meet, learn, acknowledge the great work of our staff, and celebrate forty years of Venture Trust.
Getting together is a great thing. After the last two years spent largely apart, working from home, mostly seeing one another through a computer screen, and only recently venturing into our respective offices across Scotland, gathering at our National Participant Centre just outside of Stirling felt special.
The aim was to meet (some of us had never met in person before), learn from each other, acknowledge the great work we have been doing and to celebrate forty years of Venture Trust!
We hosted the gathering in our Stirling base ‘boat shed’ alongside our canoes and camping equipment, which was now also kitted out with tables (which we named after Munros), a projector, 40th birthday cakes and a balloon arch to hint at our special anniversary – all thanks to the brilliant efforts of our staff in the Venture Trust ‘Culture Club’ who brought everything together.
We welcomed new members of staff, put faces to names and heard about Venture Trust’s past, present and vision for the future. Our experienced Operations Resource Manager, Simon White and some of our long-standing trustees talked us through the last forty years of Venture Trust and gave us a better idea of where we came from as an organisation. We also heard from Shaun, a former participant and current member of our participant panel who spoke about the positive impact working with Venture Trust has had on his life. And our CEO, Alastair Pringle, spoke about Venture Trust’s future with the publication of our new Strategic plan.
Before we began the day’s workshops, the whole team played a large-scale and interactive game of two truths and a lie. Led by our External Affairs Manager Tejesh Mistry, a panel of willing – and evidently cunning! – truth-benders from various departments brought touching, intriguing and chuckle worthy stories from across Venture Trust to the gathering, leaving the rest of us to work out which tale they told was the lie!
From here, our team worked its way around three workshops organised by some of our hard-working and knowledgeable committees and departments.
Drawing on meditation and mindfulness practices, our Outdoor Therapy team led an outdoors workshop which encouraged us to quietly consider and focus on what we need to be comfortable at work. Our incredible team facilitated us patiently and diligently throughout as we listened and discussed with our fellow team members what we chose to think about and why.
Our Green Team led a workshop which tabled discussions around how we can contribute to a more sustainable way of living and working – as individuals and as an organisation. This brought to light the aspirations and trepidation that we can harbour when considering how to make positive contributions to our shared environmental future. The workshop focussed our collective goals and knowledge into actionable plans for the future.
In the workshop facilitated by our Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion committee, we discussed what inclusion means to us and our roles, what we want to achieve to encourage greater meaningful inclusion, the barriers that lie in the way of those goals, and how we can start dismantling them.
Following an awe-inspiringly delicious lunch spread eaten under canvas in our trusty Nordisk tent, came the much-anticipated staff awards. Each award recognises outstanding achievement in each of the areas of our values; care, curiosity, courage and collaboration.
Having already voted for our finalists in the weeks running up to the gathering, Fraser Taylor, our Employability Manager and chair of ‘Culture Club’ announced the winners following a democratic and decisive round of clap-ometer voting. And the winners, according to rapturous applause were!
The Summiteer – Who do you see around you that is going above and beyond? Who’s taking on the toughest challenges and not making a big deal of it? Which of your colleagues is always driving things forward and looking for those illusive solutions?:
Gilbert Coyne – Outreach Coordinator in our West Hub
Swiss Army knife (collaboration)– When jobs need doing, which of your colleagues will be on the phone, asking for favours and finding the right people to help them? Who is always thinking of ways to involve the right resources to get the best outcomes? Who calls and lets you know just to keep you in the loop?:
Simon White – Operations Resource Manager
Nine Lives (Curiosity) – Who asks pertinent and probing questions? Who always wants to know more and get into the nitty gritty? When the outcomes matter, who’s checking to make sure everything is where it needs to be?:
Jordana Gold – Outreach Coordinator in our East Hub
First Aid at Work (care) – Who’s the person you look to for support when you need it? Who provides what you need on those difficult days? Who brings a smile to the job, even when it’s raining?:
Linsey Rusk – Outreach Administration Assistant in our West Hub
The Rusk and Robertson Award for Excel-ence – The most outstanding spreadsheet aficionados that we know!:
David Robertson – Impact and Evaluation Manager
Celebrating the exceptional efforts of Venture Trust’s staff was a fitting way to end the gathering – which all in all was an invaluable insight into how Venture Trust works behind the scenes, and into why our charity has reached the relatively ripe old age of 40.
Each department, committee and individual bring their – and Venture Trusts – bedrock values of care, curiosity, courage and collaboration to their work, and we’re all the better for it.
Hopefully we won’t have to wait another three years to do it all again!
Take a look at our 2022 gathering photo gallery below to see what we got up to.