Jackie’s story

A few years ago, Jackie felt like life was at an all-time low when she became involved in the criminal justice system and experienced traumatic loss in her life. Turning to alcohol, Jackie would self-medicate as a way of making day to day living more manageable. This cycle of self-medicating led to Jackie have low confidence and self-esteem, and she often experienced feelings of shame and guilt, not knowing how to break this cycle.


Jackie was referred to Venture Trust’s Next Step’s programme during lockdown and found the weekly phone calls from her outreach worker beneficial at a difficult time. Once Jackie was able to meet for walks with Venture Trust, she said the support made her feel listened to and provided a safe space where she could verbalise what was going on for her.

“Venture Trust has been a real good thing for me. Getting out in the open air. Noticing things I didn’t notice before. Chatting with somebody. Knowing you’re going to be safe – and that was a big thing for me. I wasn’t sure at first, but now I’m so glad I was referred”

Next Steps provides support to women whose backgrounds have led to their involvement in the criminal justice system and other difficult circumstances such as homelessness, domestic abuse, problem substance use and mental health issues. Women on the Next Steps programme attend a 5-day wilderness journey in the Scottish Highlands to experience the full benefits of time outdoors. The combination of one-to-one support and time in nature for these women creates a safe space for them to share, reflect and make changes towards a happier life.

When Jackie attended the outdoor phase of the programme, she felt apprehensive. The outdoor activities challenge people to go out of their comfort zone with hill walking, abseiling, and canoeing.

The group were just fantastic; we all had a good laugh. When it came to the canoeing, I never dreamed I’d get in a boat like that! But I did and I loved it.  On the last day we did the abseil. It might not be great things for other people that do these activities regularly but for me – it made me believe in myself and taught me not be scared of everything. Just get out there and do it”.

When introduced to Venture Trust,  Jackie’s wanted to increase her awareness around her environment, lifestyle choices and what makes a positive and trusting relationship.

“I want to break-away from people who are dragging me down and stay positive and believe there is a way out of this dark barrel. My outreach worker is very encouraging. Especially with goal setting. It’s got to be step by step, and I’m comfortable with that.”

Jackie now looks forward to a brighter future and she has incorporated healthy habits into her daily routine to help her to stay on track. She is making her house a home by doing DIY around the house and joining online cooking classes. Jackie says she now enjoys meditating and reflecting on her emotions, rather than turning to alcohol to numb these feelings. Although there have been a few setbacks on her journey, Jackie has shown herself that she has the resilience to bounce back.

“Life does not always have to be like this, and I feel like I’ve been given a new life.”

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