David* was 15 when he found himself on the street.
He left home and moved to Oban to escape the emotional and physical abuse he had suffered at the hands of his family since childhood. He soon became homeless and was unable to complete his school exams.
In 2016, David moved to Glasgow. Still homeless and facing a high risk of social isolation, the teenager was referred to Venture Trust by Phoenix Peer Mentor Service.
Working with a Venture Trust outreach worker David opened up about his past experiences that led him to the harsh Glasgow streets without family or friends to support him. He explained he found it difficult to build relationships and trust people, but that he had an interest in the outdoors. The physical activity helped with his depression. He was told about the Inspiring Young Futures (IYF) programme which included an eight day wilderness journey. The programme is funded by The Big Lottery Fund, Inspiring Scotland, Scottish Children's Lottery, and several other organisations.
Ahead of the wilderness journey, David met weekly with his outreach worker to discuss his short and long-term goals. These included securing his own accommodation, to be more confident, to act quickly on problems instead of letting them build up and to increase his fitness levels.
Two weeks before leaving for the wilderness journey, David secured his own tenancy through Glasgow Housing Association. He planned to move into the property when he returned from the journey. It was hard for him to believe things were finally beginning to look up. “Things are going good but I’m waiting on something bad happening as nothing has ever been this good and I haven’t experienced people supporting me.”
David rose to the challenges on the wilderness phase of the IYF programme. His development trainer was extremely positive describing the progress David made. “As the course went on he seemed to come out of his shell and open up in what was a safe space for him where peers and friends were encouraging and supporting him. He built some good friendships and will hopefully continue to talk with these people about the positive experience shared.”
David excelled during the tasks and demonstrated his ability to learn new skills quickly, and showed his willingness to support others in the group who were struggling. He challenged and broke one of his own rules that he had previously set for himself - ‘not to trust anyone’.
On the journey David began placing faith in his peers and his confidence grew. He also worked with his development trainer to accept praise and positive feedback. These were things he’d previously struggled to do.
After returning from his journey David was looking ahead. “I feel highly motivated and in good spirts - I feel the wilderness gave me time away to think about my future”.
The main focus was to move into his own accommodation. However, with very few belongings - an inflatable mattress (without a pump), a pillow and a single quilt it was not straight forward. Continued support from Venture Trust and the housing association led to an offer of a home starter pack, which included bedding, pots, pans and cutlery. Following a meeting with Job Centre Plus, David was also supported to apply for a community care grant for white goods and carpets.
To avoid slipping back into a life of isolation after the wilderness journey David and his outreach worker considered his options. Focusing on his love of the outdoors, David was offered a one day per week placement for one year with Venture Scotland.
This was the stepping stone to take on the challenge of employability courses to help David progress into employment in the future. He gained a place on the Venture Together four week employability course which covered IT sessions, CV writing, budgeting skills, interview skills, self-presentation skill and mock interviews. He was also introduced to our CashBack Change Cycle programme.
The hard work has paid off. Venture Scotland have offered to train David to become a volunteer on their courses.
David said he could see the difference in his confidence now.
“I speak more openly about problems and don’t let them build up anymore. I can’t believe how much my life has change since the beginning of the year. I can’t thank Venture Trust enough for the support they have given me. I now find it easier to trust people and build positive relationships.”
* Name changed
More information about the programme can be found here: Inspiring Young Futures.
Positive Futures is Venture Trust's three phase programme for ex-service men and women struggling with the transition to civilian life.
The programme’s effectiveness for veterans who are struggling is being independently evaluated over three years.
A strategic survey has been launched to obtain the wider views of those who are driving support for veterans at a strategic level. People like heads of social work and employability; Scottish Government; senior armed forces personnel; people with special responsibility for veterans in Scotland and the UK, charities in the wider Veterans’ Scotland Network including armed forces charities; funders and the NHS.
Amelia Morgan, CEO of Venture Trust said, “The Interim Report showed that Positive Futures was making a difference in the wider landscape of support. It gives referral agencies an option for veterans who might not normally engage in a personal development programme. It gives veterans a chance for change and an opportunity to re-connect through time spent in the wilderness.”
“Now the research team are moving to study the strategic level impacts and this is where this survey comes in. Information from strategic level colleagues, partners and supporters will help present a rounded picture of the impacts of Positive Futures on the wider veterans support landscape.”
Jo Lloyd, who is the Lead Researcher, said, “If you work, at a senior or strategic level, for an organisation that has the welfare of veterans at its heart or comes across veterans in need in its daily work, then we would like to hear your views on Positive Futures and its place in veterans' support.”
Amelia added, “The more people we reach, the better the research outcomes for veterans so, if you have colleagues who might like to give their views, or who might be interested in the Positive Futures programme, please feel free to copy the survey link and viral it on.”
Have your say to help achieve better outcomes for UK veterans
If you are a senior or strategic stakeholder in an organisation which supports or has an interest in the welfare of veterans in the transition to civilian life, please take part in the survey below and forward to all other relevant stakeholders.
Positive Futures is Venture Trust's three phase programme for ex-service men and women struggling with the transition to civilian life. Working in partnership with other agencies and services, it aims to help participants make positive changes to their life through negotiating barriers, gaining control of their life situation, and working towards achieving personal goals. These could be re-deploying skills learnt within the military; living independently; rebuilding broken relationships; moving towards jobs, training or volunteering; and generally working towards living a healthy, safe and stable life.
The programme’s effectiveness for veterans is being independently evaluated over 3 years, and the research is also intended to identify and share insights into the veterans’ community and approaches to supporting veterans effectively. When the evaluation is complete, we will be sharing the outcomes widely.
As part of this evaluation work, the research team are seeking the views of senior and strategic stakeholders with an interest in the support available to veterans. The researchers are already engaging with veterans themselves, their families/households and direct service delivery staff referring or supporting veterans on the ground, but we would like the views of managers, senior staff, Directors and CEOs to gain yours strategic insights.
You are part of an organisation that has the welfare of veterans at its heart or comes across veterans in need in its daily work. That means the research team would like to hear your views on Positive Futures and its place in veterans' support.
To that end, would you complete a short survey? It’s been tested, depending on your answers, it takes about 7-10 minutes to complete. The survey link is:
If you have colleagues who might like to give their views, or who might be interested in the Positive Futures programme and its outcomes, we would be extremely grateful if you could send the survey link on to them and encourage relevant staff to take part.