What impact do Venture Trust journeys have on young people who find themself in the criminal justice system? This is Ian’s story…

Posted on 15 November 2022

‘My time on the Venture Trust wilderness journey was very good – I had a lot of fun with everyone who was there. I got a lot out of it, improving my social skills and learning that it’s worth it to keep going and push through harder situations.’

Ian was living in a rural village with his parents when he began using heroin, and as a result had his first brush with the criminal justice system. After being issued a Restriction of Liberty Order and a curfew, Ian had begun to feel increasingly isolated and anxious around others. He began to deteriorate mentally, started smoking weed and engaging in criminal behaviour.

Ian’s Criminal Justice support worker told him about Venture Trust and how we could help him work out his goals and support him in taking steps towards realising them through our Living Wild programme.

Ian had many reasons for wanting to engage with Venture Trust. With experience in working as a landscape gardener, he knew that the outdoors could have a positive impact on his physical and mental wellbeing. He was seeking structure, positive ways to use his time and a physical and mental challenge. He wanted to take part in something different from his day to day, build up his confidence and get back into work.

At first, Ian found the idea of beginning his journey with Venture Trust daunting. Struggling with feelings of anxiety and low self-confidence, Ian was initially shy and withdrawn in group work sessions held prior to his 8-day journey. But once Ian got talking to other participants his anxiety started to ease. He started opening up at sessions and sharing his anxieties with other participants and started to show eagerness to absorb new experiences.

Ian’s wilderness journey was a real challenge – the weather was wet and windy, and he considered giving up more than once. For the first few days Ian was reluctant to accept help with his tent, choosing to sleep in it despite it being unstable, rather than ask for help.

But soon Ian’s perspective and attitude started to change. He persevered despite the challenges and started to become aware of his strengths, communicating more openly with everyone experiencing the journey along with him. His confidence gradually grew, and he started to show a deeper awareness of what he needed to change to move forwards with his life back home.

After his journey, Ian landed a new landscaping job and began walking in and around his home village. He also started setting goals with his Outreach Worker, that could help lead him to a brighter future. He knew that his tag and the destructive behaviours that had led him astray in the past would be tough obstacles to overcome, but he felt confident and determined. He knew that he had a way to go in overcoming bad influences and temptations, but he felt more certain than ever that he could change and succeed. Ian realised he needed to steer clear of the harmful relationships and things that had been a negative influence in his life.

Ian then spent time talking openly with his Outreach Worker about his future and setting goals – a process which is a key part of all the journeys our participants take with Venture Trust. Ian decided that he wanted to work with plants and would either volunteer or work in a garden centre or environmental group or begin studying at college. He decided he’d work with his Outreach Worker to find local outdoor activities that he could take part in regularly to keep active and healthy. He also decided to work towards getting a driving license so that he could get around and make the most of more far afield job opportunities.

Ian has come a long way since first getting in touch with Venture Trust and beginning his Living Wild journey – and we know there’s a brighter future on the horizon for him yet.

To learn more about our Living Wild programme and make a referral, click here.

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