“I’d been in the Army for 4.5 years, but it had all ended badly, and I didn’t think veterans’ services were for the likes of me; I thought they were for ‘proper veterans’… people who hadn’t behaved like I did.” Venture Trust participant discharged, AWOL
With a strong focus on rehabilitation and personal development, the Venture Trust continues to support ex-Forces struggling with civilian life.
The Positive Futures – Meteorite project, with just over £140,000 of funding from the Trust’s Ex-Forces in the Criminal Justice System (CJS) programme, has enabled the organisation to work with “hidden veterans” which includes early Service leavers, those discharged for poor conduct, those with an offending background or who are in the CJS and don’t want to identify as a veteran, and those who traditionally refuse to engage with what is seen as ‘charity’.
As part of their work, Venture Trust has also assisted veterans on a number of different programmes with a range of complex issues such as presenting mental health concerns, alcohol and substance abuse, and homelessness issues.
They support people in their local community and offer learning and development in the Scottish wilderness.
The outreach posts funded by the CJS programme have allowed the organisation to improve their knowledge and awareness of suitable referrals and care pathways – bridging the gap between veteran and civilian organisations, to offer better support to veterans in need.
To date, their main refers have beenSocial Work Criminal Justice Teams, and other veterans’ charities – principally Veterans’ 1st Point.
Venture Trust has supported nearly a hundred veterans so far, each currently progressing through the organisation’s three-step programme of: Referral, assessment and engagement; Wilderness journey and; Community support and progression.
An important impact the group have noted from their work is the participants’ ability to cope better with family life. This is turn, reduces stress and anxiety and, where family members had carer roles, these reduced, as the veteran became more independent.
Learning from their previous work supporting this cohort, Venture Trust has also looked to address improvements to participants employability, for example via traineeships.
One course participant explains how the programme was a catalyst for him to fight back and regain control of his life:
“It was amazing to be part of something again. At this stage I literally couldn’t feed my cat.”
With the help of an Outreach Worker, our client was able to set clear and measurable goals to work towards in the build up to his wilderness journey. He says the space and time away allowed him to focus on what he wanted from life and rediscover strengths he had forgotten.
“I have been able to make changes to my life…I began to see my own potential. I realised it was up to me to make different decisions and take different actions. But I also needed support to do that. Without Venture Trust and the other organisations who supported me, would I be in a second year of a counselling degree, would I be a SMART Recovery co-ordinator helping others who are in the same situation I used to be in?
I’m living my life in the moment now and it’s brilliant.”