Amelia Morgan: Reaching Higher scheme is working

Venture Trust chief executive Amelia Morgan
Venture Trust chief executive Amelia Morgan
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We can help transform young lives by providing the opportunity to acquire vital skills, writes Amelia Morgan

Venture Trust, the charity that supports disadvantaged young people to make positive changes in their lives, is getting to the root of the issues behind the significant number of long-term unemployed youth in Scotland. The charity has joined forces with Who Cares? Scotland, and Move On to develop the employability programme, Reaching Higher.

Amelia Morgan, chief executive of Venture Trust, explains: “Unemployment figures have dropped significantly over the past few years and this is encouraging. But 11,000 young adults in Scotland have been out of work for more than a year. This is down to a number of factors which need to be addressed.”

She continues: “Most worrying is that many of these young adults hail from life circumstances where they are not given the best start.

“There is often a lack of opportunities or support to gain the necessary life skills, motivation or confidence to embark on further education or training. This leads to a cycle of disengagement with the system, and no way of acquiring the skills required to gain employment.

“The complexity of range of barriers facing some young people to enter employment, education or training can require significant investment in an individual achieving greater stability – addressing chaotic or destructive behaviours to become ready for employment such that they can sustain a job.

“These young people represent potential and untapped talent when supported and nurtured. Without this, long-term unemployment can often lead to a feeling of hopelessness, depression, financial worries, homelessness, addiction, and trouble with the criminal justice system.

“At the other end of the scale, being given the opportunity to train, volunteer, gain work experience, and get work-ready can be life changing in a positive way.”

The Reaching Higher programme is designed to help unemployed young people between 16 and 29 gain skills and work experience, and, with support, to gain sustainable employment.

Reaching Higher offers a vital extension to the work that Venture Trust already undertakes in its Inspiring Young Futures personal development programme. The programme supports disengaged young people to gain the skills needed to achieve their goals, grow in confidence and stability.

The Reaching Higher programme aims to take those individuals who have reached a point where they are ready to get into employment, and give them the opportunity to shine.

Nicole B was one of the first participants to have been enrolled on the Reaching Higher programme. She is 19 years old but has had a turbulent past, with lack of support leading to homelessness, subsequent unhealthy relationships, unemployment and substance abuse. Her life was in turmoil and she was living with a friend when the opportunity came for the Reaching Higher programme. Nicole started a four-week “pre-employability” course in October 2015, and was then chosen to start a one-year traineeship with Who Cares? Scotland, as an events and membership administration assistant.

Nicole’s life has since turned around; she has a sustainable home, a purpose, and has set goals that she wants to achieve. Not only that, she has gained a great deal of confidence and her life is much more balanced; and there is hope.

Nicole comments: “Venture Trust changed me as a person. I used to be rebellious and now I want to knuckle down and do something really positive with my life. The Reaching Higher programme has given me a lot of support and skills that I never knew I had.

“It has allowed me to think about my dreams; before I would never have aspired to go to university and now I know I will.”

• Amelia Morgan is chief executive of Venture Trust
For further details of the Reaching Higher programme, visit: www.venturetrust.org.uk/programmes/reaching-higher/

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