I have worked for Venture Trust for more than 12 years. During that time, I have seen hundreds of young people come through the doors. The fact that there are just as many coming through today as there were back in 2006 tells me that Venture Trust and organisations like us still have a huge amount to offer young people in Scotland.
Continued support for young adults matters because it is still needed. In my time with the organisation, the barriers associated with keeping many from reaching their full potential have not been overcome and continue to exist. These barriers include things like poverty, housing issues, experience of care, relationship issues, youth unemployment, peer pressure, criminality, drugs and alcohol. The list goes on. It’s not surprising to me that so many young people still need support to navigate their way through this complex myriad of issues.
These situations are often compounded by lack of access to services or low educational achievement, leaving individuals isolated, marginalised or in poverty.
Venture Trust’s supports young people through its three-phase personal development programme in communities across Scotland and an intensive wilderness-based element. Experiential learning techniques are used as a mechanism for helping them set out and achieve their goals, grow in confidence and stability.
Participants also work on skills such as establishing trust, personal boundaries, consequential thinking, problem-solving, dealing with challenging situations, and responsibility and accountability. These life skills need to be acquired before life outcomes can be improved.
Research and statistics continue to show young people who experience one or more of these challenges also face much lower life outcomes particularly in the areas of completing education and getting into training and employment.
The Princes Trust 2018 Youth Index revealed that young people’s happiness across every single area of their lives has never been lower, particularly in how they feel about their employment situation, their health and the amount of money they have.
One in four working young people feel trapped in a cycle of jobs they don’t want; almost a third of working young people have to take whatever jobs they can get rather than focus on developing their career; 59 per cent of working young people feel they need opportunities to develop their skills before they can think about career options; 54 per cent of all young people believe a lack of self-confidence holds them back; Almost a third of all young people think getting relevant work experience is one of the biggest challenges in pursuing a career.
Venture Trust and our partners have supported hundreds of young people to gain the personal skills, motivation and confidence that has allowed them to move towards employment, training and education. In the past four years, more than 400 young people from the programme progressed into positive destinations – education, training, volunteering or employment.
What I’ve witnessed first-hand whilst working at Venture Trust is the impact a supportive relationship can have on the life of a young person. Venture Trust creates that safe place where a young person can make mistakes and can learn from them without having to fear any kind of judgment or ridicule. We get to know young people for who they are as a person and don’t judge them for the things that have happened to them and the mistakes they may have made.
The programmes that Venture Trust run are unique in my experience of the third sector. No other organisation offers the combination of a community and wilderness-based model of personal social development. However, organisations working with young people can’t exist in isolation. Partnerships are crucial and after working with Venture Trust, many young people have engaged with our partner organisations to continue their journeys.
By improving outcomes for young people facing difficult circumstances, we can support them to become successful adults. The individual young people will benefit but so will their families, communities and Scottish society as a whole. It is essential for Scotland’s future that we enable every young person to achieve his or her potential.
And as long as the barriers that many young people face remain, it is essential that we have organisations like Venture Trust and other third sector organisations there to offer support. Young people need to know that no matter how difficult life gets there are places to go.
I leave Venture Trust knowing it is one of those places that young people can continue to get the support they need. There will always be challenges, but I am encouraged, heartened and proud of the progress young people in Scotland have made during my time with Venture Trust.
For more information about Venture Trust’s programmes for young people visit: http://www.venturetrust.org.uk/programmes/inspiring-young-futures/
Louise Dall, Outgoing Venture Trust Operations Manager