Venture Trust shares how they continue to harness the power of nature and the outdoors to improve wellbeing, relationships, and belonging.
At Venture Trust we work with people to improve their mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. We focus on building trusting relationships and supporting individuals to develop a sense of belonging through intensive personal development and therapy in communities and the outdoors.
We understand our participants have multiple and complex needs, which is why our therapeutic work not only focuses on the issues presented, but many factors impacting their life. This holistic approach supports people to develop the skills they need to manage difficult life circumstances and ideally to overcome and move beyond their current situation.
We maximise people’s strengths, equipping them with hope and stronger foundations. The people we support develop greater confidence, improve relationships and feel more stable. This allows them to create lasting relationships including with other service providers as they move forward.
The new reality since COVID-19 has had a disproportionate effect on people who were already struggling with complex life circumstances. Those working on employability skills will now face increased competition in a challenging job market. Those who already felt disconnected from society now face challenges of self-isolation and social distancing. The disruption to services means that daily routines and access to services have changed, which can be disorientating for many people.
In response we literally turned our services ‘outside–in’. We moved from group-based personal development in Scotland’s outdoors and communities to working with smart technology to reach people in their own homes. Our support services moved online. Venture Trust outreach and development staff provided a range of tailored support by phone or digital platforms to support those who needed it the most. This included the addition of individual therapy and creative and skills-based groups to complement our usual outreach services.
Once lockdown eased, we resumed face to face work outdoors observing social distancing. And following latest Government and sector body guidelines we are looking at ways to work outdoors, connecting people with nature whilst accessing support.
Many of the people we support grow up in Scotland’s cities and major towns and rarely get the opportunity to explore beyond their local boundary lines. Even for those people we work with from smaller rural communities, challenging circumstances may mean spending time to reflect and relax in nature wouldn’t be a priority, or even a possibility.
By harnessing the power of the outdoors for learning and development, we take participants out of their comfort zone. Our programmes use the outdoors as a driver for mental wellbeing through facilitating an environment where therapeutic interventions take place away from the noise and ‘chatter’ of home. And we show them that outdoor spaces are accessible in their local area.
The people we support already face various barriers to living happy, healthy lives and now they have been disproportionally impacted by COVID-19. The long-term goal is to make sure that no one, no matter what barriers they face, is left behind. Everyone deserves compassion, access to opportunity and justice. We believe and advocate for wider change in our society and greater equity of support and opportunity for those who need it most.
Winter can pose challenges for the people we work with as they are at risk of increased isolation and loneliness. We are committed to providing support for their mental wellbeing online and face-to-face where possible. As the dark and cold days of winter arrive, we will be encouraging people to continue with their development and learning. By building on the skills they have learnt and incorporating the benefits of nature as part of their action plan and routine we hope their mental, emotional and physical wellbeing will improve.
To find out more about Venture Trust’s work visit the website: www.venturetrust.org.uk