Back in 2010, Venture Trust was in the early stages of delivering something brand-new – the Inspiring Young Futures personal development programme for young people struggling with complex life circumstances. The world was very different; pandemic and transmission rates were not in our thinking. We were witnessing a different crisis for young people – the crash of 2008 and subsequent recession hit their futures and employment prospects hard. Between 2007 and 2009, youth unemployment increased by 7.8 million, compared to an average of 191,000 in the years prior. Talk of bleak prospects and aspirations were in our minds as young people shared their fears and hopes.
I was fortunate to join Venture Trust in June 2010 – a dynamic, passionate group of professionals working in our local communities, particularly areas struggling with high unemployment, poverty, poor quality housing and limited local services. Our spiritual home was Applecross in Wester Ross and we were journeying and learning in some of the most remote, unspoilt wild areas of Scotland. I loved, and still do, that we use the outdoors for learning and development but its more than that, it is the care and commitment in building relationships and tailored personal development we offer people.
Change is our constant and as an organisation we are naturally optimistic about the future. It has been a privilege to be part the Venture Trust family. Seeing people develop, grow, and move on to do amazing things. Of course, we are only ever custodians; our work remains unfinished because things change, and as individuals, we get better by drawing on our learning and experience in every failure and success. They are all important.
Some days have been darker than others and the importance of self-care, time away from computers and phones, and especially time outdoors. For me it is being by the beach, sand beneath my feet and watching the sea ebb and flow. One of my ‘things’ is we can’t do good work if we don’t feel good. Whilst now feels like the bleakest of winters, this too will pass and then the healing can begin. I worry about the trauma of what we have experienced over the last year and the impact on our wellbeing long term.
Recovery can be renewal – and the time is now to genuinely end the causes of inequality in our society by responding in crisis and focusing on preventative actions. Our experience from 2008 offers a way to meet the challenge sooner, by listening to people and being led by the evidence to press for change and minimise long term harm. We are currently facing another economic recession, with young people again being the hardest hit. There is a mental health crisis with additional barriers of isolation and data poverty. The response from communities across Scotland in 2020 has been inspiring, moving, and humbling. This is no time for austerity, we must be driven by pragmatism, a sense of urgency and ‘can do’ to ensure no one is left behind.
I have learnt so much in the last 10 years – not just in doing my job for this fantastic organisation but most strikingly what I would say to me as a young person. Mainly that you are alright, you have lots to contribute, and there are people willing and able to help guide you. Listen more and ask for help. Do not worry so much about what others think – work out what you think and importantly, why. Being accountable is a good thing, live your values. Do your best and with a good heart.
And finally, I have no doubt Venture Trust will continue to play a pivotal role in recovery, providing leadership, a voice and support for people to develop their potential.
Amelia Morgan ends her tenure as Venture Trust CEO on Tuesday February 9th. Director of Operations Mike Strang has been appointed interim CEO ensuring continued strong leadership and continuity.