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Strategic and operational development of an outdoor mental health programme in Scotland

 

The situation

  • Venture Trust is a charity which offers learning and personal development programmes for young people struggling with complex life situations (including unemployment, imprisonment, and substance misuse) across Scotland
  • Venture Trust wanted to expand their offering by delivering an urban greenspaces counselling programme designed to support young people dealing with mental health problems
  • Through its partnership with Impetus, Plural was brought in to support Venture Trust with the strategy and high-level implementation plan for their new greenspaces counselling provision

 

Our approach

Our approach focused on three areas:

  • Building evidence to demonstrate the need and effectiveness of urban greenspaces counselling for young people in Scotland
  • Identifying accessible sources of funding for the launch phase of the programme and sustainable longer-term sources
  • Providing recommendations on the programme’s design, including target participants, referral routes, number of sessions, and performance monitoring system

 

To build our evidence of the need and effectiveness for the programme and inform our recommendations on its design, we reviewed existing scientific literature, government reports and actual case studies, including conversations with existing greenspaces intervention providers.
The proposed funding strategy was informed using an extensive list of public and private funding bodies collated over the course of the project. Potential sources of funding were identified by assessing funders against selection criteria including availability of funds and alignment with our programme’s objectives.

Throughout the process, we worked closely with Venture Trust and Impetus to ensure that we incorporated their key considerations and the project progressed in the right direction.

 

Our recommendations

  • We recommended that Venture Trust target their new greenspaces counselling programme at young people experiencing difficult life situations and suffering from mild to moderate mental health conditions, a group poorly served by existing support services in Scotland
  • We identified that referrals to the programme could be accessed through the social prescribing pathway, schools, and existing relationships within the criminal justice system
  • The proposed programme design consisted of 8-12 weekly individual counselling sessions with 2-3 group activities, allowing Venture Trust to implement a needs-based programme that would effectively help target clients and allow the charity to have a significant community impact
  • Potential funders were identified from a mix of public and private sources whose core values aligned well with those of the programme
  • As part of our work, we also assessed the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the need for mental health support and the availability of funding, allowing Venture Trust to respond appropriately

 

What did our client say?

“Plural were excellent to work with, the team were really engaged and very quickly understood our organisations ethos and need. I was very impressed how quickly they understood and mapped out the market place.

Working with Plural has really fast forwarded our ability to roll out our new service backed by a solid evidence base. The work has also vastly improved our position when seeking funding and articulating the work. Huge thanks to the team at Plural.”

– Mike Strang, Head of Operations, Venture Trust

What is it like to work on a social impact project?

“I found it extremely rewarding to see how the skills I have learnt as a consultant can be applied to such an important societal issue and contribute to the ongoing development of a great organisation in Venture Trust.”

We asked one of our associates, Henry Putt, to describe the experience he gained supporting Venture Trust.