Venture Trust gets kids get on their bikes and the path to life changes – Amelia Morgan

Oscar lost his 17-year-old ­sister to a drug overdose.The trauma and challenges he faced following this “knocked him off his path”.

He turned to alcohol to cope with the pain and sadness. He almost ­ended up in the criminal justice ­system through anti-social behaviour. He also began suffering from isolation and a loss of confidence and motivation.

The chance to turn his life around came when Oscar was referred to Venture Trust and met Lucy, an ­outreach worker, there to listen and help Oscar make a plan for the future.

Venture Trust offers intensive ­personal development locally, in the community where a young person lives, and in the outdoors, all focused on helping them learn new skills, boost confidence, motivation and aspirations. We work collaboratively with a range of organisations ­committed to supporting young ­people to access opportunities to help them thrive.

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Oscar successfully embarked on our employability programme Change Cycle, specifically developed with young people and for those ­currently unemployed, not in education or training and struggling with a range of complex life circumstances. The elements of the programme include employability sessions, bike construction and maintenance including workshop experience and a short wilderness residential that has work-related tasks, and biking.

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Participants learn about responsibility and getting up to be at a job Monday to Friday. They get to keep the bike they have built and use it for job hunting, accessing services, ­training, getting to work, and leisure.

Looking ahead, some young ­people in Scotland risk being left behind. In our rapidly changing world, young people will need a new combination of resilience, life skills and vocational skills for the emerging jobs ­market. We’re committed to supporting those young people struggling with being ready for work; they have the potential and a contribution to make. ­Taking the time to invest in them, now, will put more of young people on the right path – to feel ­happier, healthier and in work, for the long term.

As we move into 2020, tackling the inequalities and disadvantage affecting some young lives must not get lost in all the current political turmoil. There are so many things to be proud of in Scotland – making sure every young person feels that too should guide our decisions and approach.

Joined-up, person-centred support remains essential to build positive relationships in adult life, especially for those young people where school didn’t offer a nurturing or learning environment and home life wasn’t safe or loving. It can reap far greater rewards when we are there for all our young people. Oscar is just one of the 254 young people who turned to ­Venture Trust last year for help, ­support and encouragement.

Oscar excelled during his time with Venture Trust. He is now in ­college and the skills he developed on the Change Cycle programme has allowed him to get a job in a bicycle workshop. He continues to build his vocational experience and is thinking about a future in engineering or mechanics. At his workplace in the Scottish Borders, as he confidently repairs a broken bike, Oscar explained how, with support, he has developed the resilience and life skills to face up to any emotional challenges or bumps in the road that he might hit.

He said: “I was lucky enough to have people believe in me even when I was going down a slippery path. I had someone point me to the right support.

“There are many young people who feel like they don’t have anywhere to turn, but they need to know organisations like Venture Trust exist and accepting the support they offer is not a sign of weakness. I am now doing something I love, and my life is back on the right path.”

To hear more from Oscar, watch Oscar’s story – Riding the Right Path – and to support ­Venture Trust, please visit

Amelia Morgan, chief executive officer, Venture Trust.

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