Women from Venture Trust’s Next Steps programme have shared their inspirational achievements at a special event held at the Hilton Edinburgh on November 21.
The event attended by stakeholders, funders, business leaders also saw the release of an independent study of the programme.
Dr Shelia Inglis, of SMCI Associates, presented her research findings on the wider impact of the Next Steps programme. In particular, how Venture Trust is unlocking the potential of these women, building their confidence, enabling them to rebuild relationships, improving their chance to move into work, and contribute positively in their communities.
Next Steps supports women from across Scotland, whose chaotic and disadvantaged backgrounds have led to their involvement in offending or put them at high risk of re/offending.
Participants are met and supported by outreach teams in their communities before experiencing an intensive five day wilderness journey, which is then followed by ongoing community-based support from Venture Trust and other partners.
Several incredible women shared their inspiring stories of overcoming adversity. Many of them have arrived at Venture Trust from a place of vulnerability and instability, often struggling with a multitude of issues such as homelessness, addiction, isolation and involvement in the criminal justice system. The Next Steps programme utilises the outdoors as a mechanism for personal development, providing space and a safe environment to begin the road to positive change.
The programme, funded by the Big Lottery Fund, as well as a number of trusts and foundations, included the opportunity to continually evaluate and fine tune the work being done, and this event was the ideal place to share those findings. Last year, 387 females took part in Next Steps, an increase of 23 per cent from the previous year, with referrals from over 100 different organisations across Scotland. 83 per cent of women participating in the Next Steps programme are more likely to get a job, with 143 already in employment, volunteering, training, or education. And 75 per cent are less likely to re-offend, which has an impact on taxpayers, and an impact on the overloaded prison service; that is great news.
Annabelle McPherson, who has overcome alcohol addiction, said the programme had changed her life. “I had hit total rock bottom when I engaged with Venture Trust but it was the right time for me to start looking up. It was about pushing yourself, you start to believe in yourself.”
Fellow participant Kirsty Gallon also believed the Next Steps programme had turned her life around after getting caught up in the criminal justice system. “I was at the lowest point I could possibly be in ... I couldn’t see the other end,” she said. However on the night of the event, Kirsty revealed, “five weeks today I’ve been in full time employment.”
Newly announced Venture Trust ambassador, and female endurance mountain biker Lee Craigie also spoke about her adventures as an elite athlete and her own battles with the challenges and lows she has overcame.
"Listening to the women who've been through the Venture Trust Next Steps programme I was struck by the amount of bravery and resilience required to turn their lives around. Not unlike the qualities required to ride long distances by bike. We all suffer the lows but what we all agreed was it is that it's easier to dig ourselves out of feeling low if we're surrounded by supportive people. This programme offers the opportunity and, in my opinion, there's not enough of these programmes about,” Lee said.
Venture Trust chief executive officer Amelia Morgan, commented, “Tonight was about celebrating the amazing women on our Next Steps programme, and all their potential and achievements. We heard from some of the women who have courageously committed to turning their lives around. Every story reflects a very personal journey of change, with all the pitfalls and small gains of life. We have also demonstrated the impact that the Next Steps programme has on these vulnerable women, their families and the community around them. The programme plays an important role within the criminal justice system and we are very proud of the women we have supported.”
Military media channel, Forces TV and BFBS Radio visited the latest Positive Futures journey on 17 February to make a short film about the work Venture Trust is doing to support veterans. The film crew spent a day talking to staff and participants, finding out about personal stories, and the personal development work which takes place during a wilderness journey. We would like to thank Forces TV/BFBS Radio for taking the time to visit and to help raise awareness of the support that is avilalbe at Venture Trust for veterans struggling with the transition to civilian life. The film is now live on the Forces TV website.
Click here to see the short film.
On Thursday 24th October, Venture Trust was proud to launch a new film about our work, in the company of some of our key friends and supporters.
The film featuring footage from our expeditions and programmes, as well as interviews with participants and those who deliver our work. It’s a compelling ‘inside look’ at the impact and importance of our programmes. Do have a look at the film, below, for an insight into our work.
Here's one of the highlights of the evening; a speech by Tammie, one of our participants:
"Hello, my name is Tammie and I have been getting support from Venture Trust since March. Before that, my life was a bit aimless, with little to no motivation and no idea how to achieve what I wanted in the future. I first heard of Venture Trust via Impact Arts and decided to try them out. I took part in some activity days and a 7 day wilderness journey in the Cairngorm Mountains. I found the wilderness journey quite tough through a mixture of the activities, being away from my family for a week and the weather being a bit rubbish. I gained a lot of support from the staff and made some new friends. After the journey, I got support with college applications and volunteer opportunities. I now have more things to do, have more ideas for my future and feel a bit better about myself. I have gained a lot from Venture Trust and I feel that other young people would benefit from the same opportunities that I got".
We also used the opportunity to launch our new brochure and annual review, which provides further insight into the value of our work.
This film was produced by Ross Finnie, whose placement with Venture Trust was generously supported by Third Sector Internships Scotland. We are also grateful to Curcuma Flowers, Edinburgh Photographic Society and the Hilton Edinburgh Grosvenor, who supported the premiere event. Thanks also go to Angel Telecom for donating our top raffle prize - an i-pad mini!
Our friends and colleagues in Malawi - Eithne Lynch and Ruth Dowling - accept the Irish Law Awards 2013 honour for their human rights work with Irish Rule of Law International in Lilongwe, Malawi.
This short film features footage from Kachere Reformatory Centre, home of Venture Trust's Moving On - Malawi programme. Some of those featured in the film will be travelling to Scotland later this year to spend time with Venture Trust, as part of our handover of the programme to local partners.
Documentary by film maker Mr Patrick Garety.
Possibly the best way to understand what goes on during our Inspiring Young Futures programme is to watch our specially commissioned video. Follow our participants right through a programme, and see for yourself how, and why, it's so effective: