McCrea Financial Services is really going the extra mile for charity. When they picked us as their chosen charity for the year, it was not just a gesture; the staff endure blood, sweat and tears to raise as much money as they can.
To date, there has been a very successful race night, where over £4,000 was raised. Following that, financial planner Jonathan Campbell ran the London Marathon. Now, Managing Director, Douglas McCrea is trekking the John Muir Way which takes in 134 miles coast to coast.
Later this month, some members of the team will be taking part in the Tough Mudder, 10-12 miles of gut busting obstacles, mud and hills.
Venture Trust is delighted to be McCreas charity of the year, alongside Beatson charity. They have shown incredible support and dedication to Venture Trust, and there is a lot more of the year to come!
If you would like to support Douglas in his efforts to complete the John Muir Way, you can donate here.
If you have been inspired by all these people testing their mettle and raising funds for charity, you can do it too! Take a look at our fundraising page here.
Last month we held an end of course celebration at Turning Point Scotland for seven women who recently completed our Next Steps – Women in Focus course. Many had been engaged with Turning Point’s ‘218’ project prior to taking part.
Friends and family who attended the celebration event heard how the ladies had “pushed boundaries and stepped right out of their comfort zone” to overcome personal challenges.
One of our participants told us at the event, “the course turned my life round completely, it made me find out about myself. I used to be an alcoholic and completely house-bound, I’d stay in the house all day. Now I’m out and about every day, to the shops… I even take my neighbour’s kids to school.”
Our Next Steps programme supports women who are trapped in a cycle of offending and dealing with multiple, complex issues including alcohol and substance misuse. Women in Focus is delivered within the programme, in partnership with Theatre Nemo, and supports participants to document their personal development journey through photos.
Combined with the programme’s wilderness-based Cognative Behavioural Therapy (CBT) activities and community-based support, the photography element provides an additional way for participants to keep a ‘visual diary’, to identify and reflect on important issues in their lives, and support the process of identifying areas to change.
Those at the event watched presentations put together by the women to document their personal development journeys, and Venture Trust outreach workers Gilbert and Lynne from our Glasgow hub presented women with certificates to recognise their achievements.
A recent article in the Scotsman describes our work supporting women caught up in offending. Further information about Next Steps can be found here. Many thanks to the Big Lottery Fund Scotland for their support of this programme.
Venture Trust, the charity that supports disadvantaged young people to make positive changes in their lives, has been awarded a crucial grant from The Big Lottery Fund to develop and enhance its Inspiring Young Futures programme.
The grant, totalling £690,000 over three years, will ensure that over 500 disengaged, vulnerable young people will be able to benefit from Venture Trust’s Inspiring Young Futures courses. The programme will also be part-funded by Inspiring Scotland, European Social Funds (ESF), the Scottish Government, local authorities and some UK trusts and foundations.
Inspiring Young Futures supports young people to learn life skills and achieve an SQA qualification. The programme includes an intensive 8-day wilderness journey in the Highlands where outdoor activity and experiential learning techniques are used as a mechanism for unlocking skills, building confidence and raising aspiration. Following this journey, the participants, aged between 16 and 25, will be given support to achieve their goals. For many this will result in gaining the skills to prepare them for employment, education, training or volunteering.
Amelia Morgan, Chief Executive at Venture Trust, commented, “The funding from the Big Lottery will be used to support 540 disengaged young people through Venture Trust’s existing Inspiring Young Futures (IYF) programme. This crucial grant will allow Venture Trust to reach those who are of a care experienced background, struggling with complex life circumstances such as homelessness, abuse, isolation, addiction, involvement with offending and sustained unemployment. Our experienced team of staff will assist the individuals to gain life skills, work-readiness, a sense of purpose, and to work towards making positive life changes.
As well as a catalytic wilderness phase where participants can focus on their development away from peer pressure and existing circumstances, there will be one-to-one support. This may result in the individual finding a home, kicking addiction, and in most cases, working towards, education, training, employment or volunteering.
For many people who find themselves at Venture Trust’s doors, it's because they have not been able to access or benefit from mainstream support. So this additional funding will enable us to focus on intensive life-skills development to help so many more young people to realise their potential.”
Paul (19) has been through the Inspiring Young Futures programme. He was referred in December 2014 from the Care Leavers Employability Service (CLES) Launchpad Programme, run by Glasgow City Council. Prior to this, he had completed 'Core Skills' qualifications at CLES, worked in a garage with his friend's dad and completed an 'Access to Motor Vehicles' course at Kilmarnock College. He had been living with carers in Pollokshields since May 2014, and before that had lived with other carers for nine years. He spoke fondly of this time saying that they often did outdoor activities together and that he still kept in contact with them.
Paul explained that he did not have contact with any of his family and that both of his brothers had died. This understandably has had a significant impact on him. He engaged well on a one to one basis with his Venture Trust Outreach Worker, and in these sessions began to identify his strengths and areas for development.
Paul said: “I’ve been trying to deal with my anger for years, so I met The Venture Trust at the best time. I wanted to learn to deal with my frustrations in ways that were less damaging to me. I hoped to increase my confidence levels when meeting and getting to know new people, as well as learn new practical skills when being outdoors. I absolutely loved that experience and learnt so much about myself.”
Paul attended and completed the wilderness journey in Feb 2015. With support, over the next few months Paul continued with his work placement at the car garage, with the aim of securing an apprenticeship. With the relevant funding secured Paul was offered a one year apprenticeship with the garage which began in January 2016. Paul is now making headway on his own, but has been made aware that he can always get in touch with his Venture Trust Outreach Worker for support. This article appeared on Employability in Scotland website. To read in full, please click here.
Click here for further details of our Inspiring Young Futures programme.
Leading provider of ‘alternative to custody’ programmes, Venture Trust speaks out against the current legislation for women in the prison system.
Joe Connelly, Head of Programmes at Venture Trust, explains, “There is evidence that custody, and the prison system does not serve to reform behaviour or keep individuals from reoffending. In fact in the case of women, there is evidence that it can have the opposite effect, often removing them from their children, and any remaining hope.
There is an increasingly popular school of thought that prison as a form of punishment is only appropriate for a small minority of high risk offenders. Alienating, stigmatising and incarcerating those who are often already in difficult life circumstances only exacerbates the problem, creating a downward spiral and a feeling of helplessness. For women especially, prison often leads to reoffending, separation from children, and very sadly, a high proportion of those children carrying on the cycle.”
Joe continues, “There is an alternative to custody, and even prosecution: organisations and charities, such as Venture Trust, run specific programmes aimed at rehabilitating offenders, helping them to gain the skills to make positive changes in their lives, and no longer rely on the court system as their only source of stability.
However, these programmes are not mandatory and are only used by some court services on a referral basis. The ultimate aim is that an alternative to custody, such as Venture Trust’s Next Steps programme, supported by The Big Lottery Fund, which is run in conjunction with criminal justice partner agencies, is used for all but a few high risk individuals.
The number of women in prison in Scotland has doubled in the past ten years*. Of those serving at Cornton Vale prison, 70% reoffended within two years. The drain on public resources is significant. This does not take into account the huge ongoing cost of homelessness, addiction, children taken into care, and a sustained reliance on benefits.
The estimated economic and social cost of reoffending over a 10-year period is, on average, over £75,000 per female offender. This is in stark contrast to £2,400 for a community payback order. The wilderness-based Next Steps programmes help participants to reduce the risk of reoffending, and move towards a positive future, potentially resulting in employment, training education or volunteering. If women offenders are given the opportunities and the skills to change their lives, something they typically would not have had access to before, then we might begin to reverse these staggering statistics.
It is a sad fact that the majority of women going through the criminal justice system hail from disadvantaged backgrounds, often suffering from a range of issues from abuse, addiction and a history of care experience. It is these underlying causes that Venture Trust seeks to address in its programmes, and this evidently goes some way to reducing the risk of reoffending.
However, we are in a criminal justice system that currently does not have a clear line of sight. Some areas refer women offenders to organisations such as Venture Trust instead of a prison sentence. Others make that referral instead of prosecution, which has greater benefit; others do not provide an alternative to custody at all. The service provided can be based on the relationship between individuals, upon funding or lack of, upon locally based agreements. There is no over-arching system that guides the process.
Justice Secretary Michael Mathieson, has the last word, announcing his vision for the future female custodial estate as being ‘for a small, high-end core national facility to be located on the current Cornton Vale site, supported by a number of community-based and community supported units located in key strategic areas around Scotland. Service delivery across all sites is expected to be multi-agency and reflective of local needs and priorities. That vision, to be realised by 2020.’
We are delighted to announce that Chartered Financial Planner at McCrea's Financial Services, Jonathan Campbell will be running the London Marathon for Venture Trust. McCreas has chosen Venture Trust as one of its nominated charities for 2016. To date the company has held a launch, and a race night which raised over £4,000.
Jonathan who spends his time during working hours with McCreas as a specialist adviser for pensions and investments has been in training since early January when he found out about his place.
He currently runs three times a week with a long run at the weekend and everyone in the McCreas office has had to endure the tales of woe and details on all the aches and pains along the way. It’s fair to say that with his longest run so far of 20 miles, there aren’t many of us that could keep up however so credit where it’s due!
We will all be cheering Jonathan on on Sunday and would like to thank McCreas for its continued support. You can support Jonathan - and Venture Trust - by donating here. To find out more about McCreas, please click here.