Project information

Venture Trust's Personal Development Journeys

Venture Trust champions both preventative and rehabilitative interventions for young offenders. We offer intensive personal development programmes - centred around wilderness expeditions in the Scottish Highlands - which help participants develop the skills to make positive changes in their lives.

An ongoing programme

Charity information

Venture Trust

Venture Trust logo
  • Need


    Those involved in offending are among the most excluded in our society. The majority of offenders have backgrounds of considerable social breakdown - a third of prisoners have been in care, half have the literacy and numeracy abilities of an 11 year old, and 70% have two or more mental health disorders. In terms of reform and rehabilitation, our criminal justice system is both highly ineffective and extremely expensive, and many young people quickly become trapped in a cycle of reoffending.


    Evidence overwhelmingly suggests that entering stable employment, alongside the maintenance of healthy family relationships and secure accommodation, significantly reduces the likelihood an individual will re-offend. Through wilderness-based personal development experiences, complemented by supportive relationships with our outreach staff, we help young people to increase their confidence, motivation and stability, improve their employability, and thereby to work towards lives free of offending.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Participants increase their employability, and take advantage of employment, education, and training


    » Our activities are designed to help young people think about their future plans, and to learn to set clear and achievable milestones to achieve these.
    » We use outdoor activities designed to introduce and test employability skills such as communication, problem solving and giving & receiving feedback
    » We teach young people vital life skills, such as cooking, looking after themselves effectively, establishing a daily routine and managing their time.
    » We guide young people towards opportunities such as training / college courses, and help them with CV writing, mock interviews and applications.

    Success will be...helping 65% of participants who complete a programme to increase their employability, and supporting 35% into positive destinations 3 months post-course.

    Aim 2

    Participants reduce their risk of reoffending


    » We encourage participants to develop supportive relationships with positive peers who can support the changes they are making in their lives.
    » We help young people to access secure housing and stable employment, and to reduce drug / alcohol use, all known to be key factors in offending.
    » 'Action Plans' help young people to map out their own path to a crime free lifestyle, with clear and achievable actions to help them to get there.
    » We offer long term support, so that help is quickly on hand to enable young people to overcome any challenges they may face in reducing offending.

    Success will be...that 40% of participants who complete a programme have reduced their risk of reoffending 3 months post-course.

    Aim 3

    Participants improve their use of services and make bonds with others in their communities


    » Our outreach workers introduce participants to other young people with similar backgrounds, helping them form local & national peer support networks.
    » Our outreach teams run activities where young people can explore services available in their communities, such as sports centres and outdoor spaces
    » Each young person is 'signposted' and introduced to other complementary community services, such as mental health teams and education providers.

    Success will be... 50% of participants who complete a programme are showing improved bonds with their communities 3 months post-course, & 55% have increased their use of services.

    Aim 4

    Participants sustain and increase their self-confidence


    » Our activities (e.g. abseiling) help young people to give and receive feedback, offer encouragement and support and ask for help when it is needed.
    » Outreach workers support young people for up to 18 months. This consistent relationship celebrates the progress and achievements made by participants.

    Success will be...that 70% of participants who complete a programme have improved or sustained their self confidence 3 months post-course.

  • Impact


    The programme will improve young people's life chances & reduce the negative impacts of offending on both individuals & communities.

    We will demonstrate success by gathering quantitative & qualitative evidence from young people, referrers & communities for 12 months after completion of our programmes, to assess the long term changes in young people's lives. Over the next 3 years, success will be working with increasing numbers of young people & seeing increasingly positive outcomes for them.


    The people we want to work with may be particularly disengaged as a result of their difficult backgrounds. We will therefore be reliant on our strong referral partnerships to allow us to work with participants at the most appropriate time in their lives.

    People with offending backgrounds are a typically ostracized cause, with negative media coverage focusing on punishment rather than rehabilitative interventions. Funding for such projects can therefore often be difficult.


    Donors will receive yearly or six-monthly reports (as required) with detailed evidence of outputs and outcomes, and personal stories of young people who have taken part. They will also receive copies of external evaluations, and are welcome to visit a programme to see our work in action.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £24,036

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      Amount Heading Description
      £10,397 Salaries: Programme Team The 'ground staff' who lead and deliver all activities that young people take part in on one course
      £2,169 Programme Costs Includes food, travel, and all necessary kit / equipment for staff and participants on one course
      £6,970 Centre and Admin Costs Includes vehicle fuel and insurance, monitoring, admin & training costs for one course
      £4,500 Salaries: Operations Team Essential support staff vital to the running of one course on this programme

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    The Rayne Foundation £4,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    We work with young people from all over the UK, with around 70% of participants coming from areas of high deprivation in Scotland. Our expeditions are all based in the Scottish Highlands, where the remote wilderness environment gives young people time and space to think about their lives and the changes they would like to make, whilst challenging participants in new ways. These challenges help participants to develop skills such as planning ahead, self-care and overcoming adversity.


    Young people (predominantly aged 16-24) who are involved in, or who are at risk of involvement in, offending would be the primary beneficiaries. They are currently struggling from lack of opportunities and support, as well as facing multiple barriers to employment.
    Local communities would also see significant benefits from this programme, as young people reduce offending, engage with community services, and contribute positively through employment, education, training and / or voluntary work.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We have been working with young people involved in offending for 25 years, so have an extensive network of partners in the sector, including the Scottish Prison Service, Sherrifs and Local Authorities. This helps us to effectively reach out to the young people most in need of our support.

    We combine a number of proven personal development techniques to offer a unique package of support, and have been independantly evaluated by Edinburgh and Strathclyde Universities.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Amelia Morgan

    Amelia is Venture Trust's Chief Executive. She has 20 years' experience in the public and charity sectors.

    Joe Connelly

    Joe manages all our work with young people who are already caught up in offending. He has 15 years' experience working in the Criminal Justice sector.

    Phil Briggs

    Phil has been actively involved in the outdoor industry for over 20 years and has specialised in wilderness personal and social development.

Activities help develop employability skills.

Activities help develop employability skills.

"It has helped me out alot i was getting the jail binge drinking etc, now ive completely changed thanks to staff at VT"