Declan’s story

Declan was living in homeless accommodation, suffering from poor mental health and unemployed. Following a Venture Trust presentation at the Mungo Foundation Project, Declan was referred to the Inspiring Young Futures programme.


The programme offers regular community-based outreach support wrapped around a Wilderness Journey usually in the highlands of Scotland. Through intensive learning and personal development individuals will consolidate their new skills, boost confidence, motivation, and aspirations.

The idea of combining his love of the outdoors with learning and personal development to build key life skills appealed to Declan. Today, Declan is living in his own flat, has a job and is harnessing the power of the outdoors to improve his mental wellbeing.

“The wilderness journey was just magic. I was genuinely just so happy out there. Lying about under the stars. I’ve got connotations of that now so any time I’m feeling stressed and worked up, I know the place for me to go. I know I can chill out just by being there.”

Declan enjoyed the company of his group as they were all out there working on different life skills. He wanted to build ways to cope with his mental health, boost his confidence and develop his communication.

“On one of the last days everyone took a turn standing up and spoke about what they thought they’d changed and overcame. Rather than just being out there having fun like it seemed, we were actually working on these different things. You had to stand up and speak in front of the group and you really had to work on your confidence, your presentation, and the way you carry yourself.”

The outdoors and wild areas of Scotland gave Declan the time and space away from the pressures and challenges he faced at home and allowed him to work on his development.

“I had some problems with my mental health and I’m quite reluctant to ask for help. That was one of the main things I was working on. The situations you’re in while you’re there, you don’t really have any other option than to ask for help. You do things like crossing rivers and stuff, and it’s not like you can just throw your backpack on and march through.”

In the following weeks, he was allocated his own accommodation with Venture Trust working in partnership with Impact Arts Make It Your Own programme to turn his space into a home by accessing funds, materials, and furniture. Covid-19 and lockdown threatened to isolate and knock Declan off his path. However, he was able to stay connected accessing our Employability, Wellbeing and Active Living digital hubs.

“It’s good to have a chat and link up with people you wouldn’t otherwise. I live alone so if you have stuff like that, it helps to break up your day or your week. It gives you an outlet, a chance to work on your skills and have a laugh with people.

While accessing services digitally can be a lifeline for many, this amplifies the issue of data poverty for those with limited means to buy airtime and often rely on public WiFi. Venture Trust set Declan up with regular data top ups so he could continue engaging digitally. Taking full advantage of the support, Declan continued with his learning and development. This included building his employability skills through CV writing courses, interview skills and targeting available jobs even during a tough time for young people looking for work.

“And the top ups meant I could keep in touch with family members and keep up with my job searches. Without them I wouldn’t have been able to do job applications and I might not even be in the job I am now.

“I don’t think I would have got to where I have been, in the space of time that I have, without Venture Trust. From start to finish whatever support you needed was there. Sometimes you do just need a wee bit of hand holding when you go through that kind of stuff. They went above and beyond to make sure you got a nudge whenever you needed it.”

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