Celebrating 40 years of helping Scotland’s young people transform their lives - Alastair Pringle

What have Joanna Lumley, Richard Attenborough and Applecross all got in common? The answer is they have all been a part of the Venture Trust journey over the last 40 years.

As part of our 40th birthday celebrations we have been looking back through the archives and remembering all those that have helped Venture Trust weather the test of time and continue to deliver our unique programmes of transformational personal development in the outdoors, for those most in need.

We were founded back in 1982 and one of the signatories was a certain Sir Richard Attenborough.

From the start we have worked with people who experience some of the most complex challenges in their lives, those furthest from opportunity and those who have experienced trauma and adversity. What makes us different is that we deliver our programmes in the outdoors, in Scotland’s wilder places.

Alastair Pringle, CEO, Venture Trust

While our initial spiritual home was in Applecross, about five hours drive northwest of our current Edinburgh HQ, over the past 40 years we have continued to develop and grow to respond to need. We are now based in the Central Belt, with our Field Centre in the shadow of Dumyat near Stirling, where we keep our boats and tents. This is where our journeys start and end, but we still venture far into the wilds to allow our participants to experience the majesty and remote wonders of Scotland, while working to re-assess their lives, build new and trusting relationships – and learn to trust in themselves.

We have always been recognised as leading the way with the breadth and depth of our offer and most recently completed a four-year pan-European project to share our delivery model with partners across Europe, reaching over 1000 young people in Ireland, Spain and Poland.

We’ve gone even further afield with Venture Nepal, which is where Joanna Lumley came alongside as an ambassador. Reflecting back, it’s been an incredible journey, through challenging times.

As we enter the next phase of our journey, we face even greater challenge and uncertainty in terms of recovery from the pandemic, climate change and increasing political and cultural division both domestically and globally. The cost-of-living crisis dominates the headlines.

These challenges are not felt evenly – they highlight and exacerbate inequalities in our society. Those who were already the most disadvantaged have suffered disproportionately. They have been the hardest hit socially, educationally, economically and in terms of health and wellbeing and pushed even further from life chances and the ability to make positive choices.

As Darren 'Loki' McGarvey, singer and social commentator, recently said: “You are no use to any family, community, cause or movement unless you are first able to manage, maintain and operate the machinery of your own life.”

Our ambition is for growth, not just for the sake of it but because it’s clear that more people than ever before will benefit from our unique support and interventions.

Young people in particular face greater challenges and obstacles, which put them at even greater risk of entering into negative cycles of behaviour. A key part of our renewed focus will be on working with younger people, earlier, to prevent them from ending up in more challenging life circumstances down the road. Prevention is better than cure.

We also need to play our part in ensuring that the lived experiences of those we support are heard in the design of programmes, policies and services in communities. That’s why we will have a more authoritative voice in the future with and for the people we work with, using their stories to influence change.

We have recently launched our Strategic Plan for 2022-25, which clearly sets out these ambitions, alongside the impact we hope to achieve and how we plan to achieve it.

Please have a read on our website www.venturetrust.org.uk and get in touch if you would like to join the list of illustrious supporters of our work and be part of our exciting future. And if you want to do something to directly support our work, why not sign up for our Bag a Munro campaign this August at venturetrust.org.uk/bagamunro.

Alastair Pringle, CEO, Venture Trust

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