We are delighted to share the news that Voices for a Better Future has now been working together for two years.  

The group was set up 25 May 2022 and since then, they have gone from strength to strength. They have met online and in-person to work on some interesting and inspirational projects. 

Voices for a Better Future is a lived experience voice group. The group is made up of people who have accessed support from Future Pathways. It is a safe space where people can draw on their lived experience to offer guidance to the Leadership Team at Future Pathways.  

Over the past two years, the group have taken part in many projects. 

  • They have given updates via the Future Pathways newsletter to share their work with other people supported by Future Pathways.  
  • They worked with Iriss and Scottish Recovery Network on a project about co-designing peer support. 
  • Some members of the group are working with the Procurator Fiscal’s office. They aim to improve processes for people who take part in the National Abuse Inquiry or who are involved in court cases against perpetrators.  
  • Two members of the group have taken up roles as Alliance Leadership Team representatives.  
  • The group is working on record search guidance. They want to help people who are trying to find records from their time in care. The group is using their own personal experience to help others.  

To mark their two year anniversary as a group, we asked members to share their feelings about the group:

“One thing we have in common is when one of the group is missing we all make sure that person is okay.”
“I myself want one thing – to make sure that sure that the work we are doing will help and benefit people from past, present and future.”
“I would like to use a quote from Helen Keller who said: ‘Alone we can do so little; Together we can do so much.’ This sums up Voices for a Better Future group for me.”

Future updates around current projects the group are working on will be shared via Future Pathways’ newsletter and their dedicated space on the website. You can view this here.  

There are currently 13 active members in the group. Membership of the group changes each year to give new people the chance to take part. If you are interested in joining, you can: 

 As the group is quite small, it may not always be possible for everyone to join at the same time. 

We want to be here for you. We are working hard to make sure you can access the service as soon as possible. 

A lot of people register with us for support. This means that currently people are waiting longer than we would like. It is not always possible for us to say how long you will have to wait. We understand that this can be frustrating.  

We look forward to providing support for you as soon as we can.   

Why is there a waiting list? 

Many people register with us to get support. But we are not able to support everyone at the same time. This means we cannot offer support right away and so we have a waiting list.   

Can you tell me how long I will have to wait? 

We are not able to say exactly how long you will have to wait.   

At the moment, people are waiting up to 19 months.

We know it can be hard to wait for a long time. But we would still encourage you to register with us. We will start your support as soon as we can.  

Why was I not told the timeframe before now? 

Previously, we did not give people a timeframe for our waitlist. This is because timeframes might change, and we know people can feel let down by that. 

But, we learnt from feedback from people registered with us that it is important to have some information about when support might start.

So we decided to check our current waiting list and give a timeframe based on that.

Please note: this figure might still go up or down, but we will update it each month if it does.

Can I get any other support from Future Pathways while I wait?  

At the moment, we cannot offer direct support while you are waiting.

We can point you to other services that may be able to offer support while you wait. This includes statutory services, like the NHS or housing services. Future Pathways does not replace statutory services and cannot offer the same support that those services provide.

Do you prioritise support for some people? 

We prioritise older adults (people over 65) and people living with a terminal illness. For everyone else, we offer support in the order they registered with us. 

How will I know I am registered?

Once you have registered with us, we will send you an Information Pack. The pack will confirm you have been registered. It will also give you more information about Future Pathways. It will include a Support Agreement for you to sign and send back to us. We will send you an Information Pack within 2 weeks of you registering. The Information Pack is also on our website and you can view it here. 

How can I connect with Future Pathways while I wait for support? 

You can stay connected with us through our newsletter, Facebook and X/Twitterwhere we share updates about the service, plus features and articles. Any upcoming events will also be shared through our newsletter and social media. You can sign up to our newsletter here. 

Where can I find more information about the service?

Our FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) cover a range of different topics. You can view the FAQs here. 

How can I give feedback about Future Pathways?

You can give us feedback at any time through our website: www.future-pathways.co.uk/feedback 

If you would like to get a copy of the feedback form by post instead, you can let us know by:   

  • emailing engagement@future-pathways.co.uk  
  • writing to us at Future Pathways, 40 Shandwick Place, Edinburgh EH2 4RT 
  • calling our Registration Line on 0808 164 2005 
Your GP and NHS services 

During normal working hours always contact your GP for urgent advice and treatment.   

When your GP or Dental Practice is closed and you cannot wait until they are open, you should phone NHS 111 service for out-of-hours advice. The service provides urgent care advice and mental health support. 

Call 999 or go to A&E now if you do not feel you can keep yourself or someone else safe.  

The Samaritans  

The Samaritans offer a safe place for you to talk any time you like. You can talk in your own way about whatever is going on. They have a helpline, email service, letter service and a self-help app.  Helpline open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

Phone for free 116123

Breathing Space

Breathing Space is a free phone and webchat service. It is confidential. It is for anyone in Scotland over the age of 16. You can contact them if you are experiencing low mood,  depression or anxiety. Open 6pm to 2am Monday to Thursday, and 6pm to 6am Friday to Sunday.

Phone for free 0800 83 85 87


Shout is a free, confidential, 24/7 text messaging support service for anyone who is struggling to cope.  

Text SHOUT to 85258

Our latest Quarterly Report is now available to view. It covers our work from October to December 2023. It shows what we’ve learnt, and includes key stats and feedback from those who access Future Pathways. 
What happened in Q3

67 people registered with Future Pathways.

28 people started working with a Support Coordinator.

109 people accessed support from 37 Delivery Partners.

Who we worked with

The average age of people who registered with us was 43.

57% of people registered with us live in Scotland’s most populated areas.

We continue to find that people we support are more likely to live in deprived areas.

How people felt

Most of the feedback we received from people registered with us was positive.

People shared that they felt Future Pathways understood and cared about them.

People also told us that not being able to access material support sometimes can be difficult.

What people gained

Many people told us that counselling, and support to improve their home environment, makes a big difference. Here, John tells us what he gained from accessing mental health support from Future Pathways: 

“Before I accessed this support, I didn’t know why I couldn’t function. They helped me figure it out for myself. And I am still figuring it out. But now, I am on that journey.”
What changed for people

People shared what changed in their life after accessing support from Future Pathways.

“My Support Coordinator made a colossal difference in my life.. [Future Pathways] has helped fund a number of programmes which have helped ease my depression and physical ailments.”
What difference we made

People shared the impact of their work with Future Pathways. For some people, this was lifechanging. 

“It was night and day compared to with what my life was like […] Future Pathways helped me turn my life around. I started caring about myself, because someone else was caring about me.”
Our full report features further infographics, feedback and a breakdown of our financial spend. Read the full report.
Growiser Financial Coaching
A white man with a shaved head stares straight into the camera and smiles with an open mouth, He is wearing a red t-shirt and there are trees in the background.
At Future Pathways we work with many different services that help the people we work with in many different ways. One of these services is GroWiser Financial Coaching, run by Graham Wells. Graham helps people to learn new habits to help them look after their money.

Graham Wells is a financial coach. Financial coaching is about helping people to change their feelings or thoughts about money.

Graham says: “Often when people seek support, they worry that they will come across as being stupid. But it is not about telling people what they have done wrong or telling them what they should do differently.” Instead, Graham explains, it is about helping them to look after their money in a better way.

There are two sides to what Graham does.

One side is helping people learn more about how money works. This might be things like how to build an emergency fund or how to keep track of money. He helps people to work out what is important. And this helps people to develop better money habits.

The other side of what Graham does is helping people to change the way they behave in relation to money. Sometimes Graham gives people tasks. For example, making lists of where their money comes from and where it goes.

People can feel much better when they have control of their money.

Graham’s 5 steps

Graham’s 5 steps for looking after your money.

Think about how you spend.

Spend your time and money in line with your values and what is important to you. Do not forget your future self.

Get rid of your debt.

Find the best way for using and repaying debt. Know the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ debt.

Keep your loved ones in mind.

Prepare for things you do not expect. Build peace of mind for you and your loved ones

Nurture your wealth.

‘Wealthy’ and ‘rich’ are not the same. Wealth means looking after your whole life, not just your money.

Create your future.

Make a plan for how you would like to spend your time as you get older. Do not leave it to others to define your life path.

Here is a letter we received from Sandy, who was supported by Future Pathways. He felt the service was there for him, and has now chosen to end his support. He wanted to share his experience of what support has meant to him.
Please note: this text mentions physical and mental abuse.

I was one of the first ones in the door at Future Pathways. I recall meeting the team, and I had been given Garry as my Support Coordinator. I remember getting a cup of tea with both Garry and Flora. Because of the mental and physical brutality I was exposed to in the secure units, I had developed an underlying diagnosis of severe Complex PTSD. Thanks to Garry and Future Pathways I was able to access counselling to discuss this and come to terms with it.

I felt that the phone was always on when I needed the service, they were always just a call away.

A man in a boat on a lake with cliffs in the background.

As each year progressed, I felt I was getting better and better, the support from Future Pathways helped me in so many various ways. It helped me trust institutions again which I would never have thought possible due to my past.

Now I have reached a point with my Support Coordinator here today, I feel it is now the time to break away from the service. I want to thank you all for the support through a number of challenges, from my physical health decline to help accessing counselling and other supports for my mental wellbeing.

I can’t believe how much I have moved on from being an angry person to the polar opposite. I now feel like each day I am becoming more and more positive. My Spina Bifida could very well be the result of the physical beatings I received in my youth – but again Future Pathways got me in touch with a clinic in Edinburgh which helped with the diagnosis of this. As a result, this allowed for me to prepare and begin to manage my life accordingly.

I mean this with complete sincerity, I don’t think I would have been here now if it was not for Future Pathways. Now it is my time to move on and let someone else get the support which I have been so thankful for.

All the best,

Sandy Sutherland

Roberto shares his photographs with us. Here are his outdoor trips to great locations.

Future Pathways supported Roberto in his goal to have more time out of his busy life. He had thought about his needs and knew that he had a passion for time outdoors. He was keen to make sure he could still go biking and camping in the winter months. This freedom would help his mental health.

But, he knew he did not have the right equipment. So, Future Pathways supported Roberto to get a new tent. This means he can now take time out anytime during the year, even if it is cold. This has helped to boost Roberto’s mental health.

Roberto completes his trips with a good friend. This gives him time to talk with someone who understands him and it allows their friendship to grow. They especially like visiting Orrin Dam and Lochan Fada.

A man on a bike facing away from the viewer. He is looking out over a loch and mountains.

Above: Lochin Fada

Above: Orrin Dam

A man stands with a bike and tent at night time at Loch Vaich.

Above: Loch Vaich

A stone house with a tent outside and a snowy mountain in the background at Loch Vaich.

Above: Loch Vaich

Trevor, one of the people we support, would like to share his book with you. It is called ‘Knocking on the Wall’.

Future Pathways supported Trevor to write his book in 2019. In the book, Trevor describes the different times of his life. He writes about the time with his family and also his life after leaving care. The book includes his time as a child in care homes.

Trevor wanted to share his own record of his time in care. And he wanted to explain the impact it had on his life. Trevor talks in his book about his experiences, thoughts and feelings.

It was important for Trevor to write his book. It gave him the chance to get his thoughts down on paper. He also wanted to make sure other people knew his story and he thought it might help them too.

The book includes some of Trevor’s poems. We have included two of them below.

If you would like a copy of Trevor’s book for free, he is happy to share it over email. You can ask for a copy by emailing Trevor at t.swistchew65@gmail.com or by emailing Future Pathways at engagement@future-pathways.co.uk.

Please note that the book does mention some instances of abuse.


Listen –

When it is dark

The sun is shining

When it is light

The sun is shining –



It is not bars a prison makes

It is what is in your head.

For each constructs within the mind

Their walls and locks and chains.

If you can look just for a while

At the views that you believe

You will start to see it is yourself

Whom you yourself deceive.

Freedom in the true sense

Is the end of all self-illusion.

Walk in love – harm no one.

We have been working with Angus. He has a very interesting hobby. He takes photos using a drone. Then he changes the images so that they look like paintings. Here are four examples of Angus’s work, and a few words from him about how it is done.

“It all started because I wanted other people to come and film the cricket field near where I live in Canada. I found myself saying ‘somebody should’. Every time I find myself saying ‘somebody should’, then usually that is a signal to say, ‘you’ll have to do it yourself’. And then when lockdown happened, I thought, well, here is an opportunity to get a drone and learn to fly it. Future Pathways helped me to get some training and certification.

At first, I thought that if I could combine beautiful landscapes with classical music, it would make some spectacular videos. Because it is a very different perspective when you are 100ft up in the air. And then I started to create some still images by taking parts out of the drone videos.

Then, because I was interested in old travel posters, I learned how to remaster images and how to blow them up large. And then from that, I figured out how to transform pictures digitally.

So, by combining all these things, I managed to create a type of art which I was not originally able to do.

I love taking the drone on holiday with me too, particularly to France. Every three metres, there’s something extraordinary to film!”

A statue of a figure overlooking green fields and a blue hill with a blue and yellow sky. Notre Dame de Camarès in the Sud Aveyron, France.

Above: Notre Dame de Camarès in the Sud Aveyron, France

A village in green fields beside a river with a mountain behind it. Mont-Saint-Hilaire and the river Richelieu, Québec

Above: Mont-Saint-Hilaire and the river Richelieu, Québec

A village with green fields and a blue mountain in the background. Camarès, Le Balcon du Monde, France.

Above: Camarès, Le Balcon du Monde, France.

A brown hillside with green grass and green trees against a blue sky with white wispy clouds.  Le Rougier de Camarès, France

Above: Le Rougier de Camarès, France.

Angus has taken his love of art and vintage posters and created an online shop, shipping his prints all round the world. If you would like to have a look, the website is www.iwantitonmywall.com
At Future Pathways, we take a trauma-informed approach in our work with people. We know from feedback that people value this approach. 

People tell us it is important that they:

  • feel safe
  • can trust a service or provider
  • have choices about what support looks like
  • can work alongside a service
  • can influence their own support

So, we encourage services we work with to have a trauma-informed approach too.

Below, we give a short introduction to trauma and give a few pointers about things you can keep in mind when working with someone affected by trauma. 

If you would like to find out more, download our short guide to Trauma Informed Practice.
What is trauma?

Trauma is when a person experiences something as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening. Trauma can come from an event, a series of events or an ongoing situation. Not everyone will be affected in the same way.

How might trauma affect people?

Trauma can have a lasting effect on people’s mental, physical and emotional wellbeing and can leave people with a sense that they are not safe in some situations or around some people.

Trauma can affect people in different ways at different times. It can also affect someone a long time after an incident has happened.

Trauma can cause people to feel distressed or fearful. Some people may find it harder to trust people or may struggle to manage emotions. For others, trauma can mean a person might find it harder to look after themselves or they may also live with disabilities or health conditions. Everyone experiences trauma differently.

Things to keep in mind:
  • It can be difficult or stressful to have a stranger in the home. The person you visit might choose to have a friend, relative or support worker there on the day to help them manage that stress. It is important that people know they are safe. You may know that you don’t pose a threat or risk to someone else but that person will not know this and may choose to keep a distance from you, maybe even asking the friend, relative or support worker to talk to you for them.
  • Some projects might require a group of people to come into the person’s home. The person you visit might prefer to know how many people they can expect and who they are. Where possible, keeping the number of people in the group as low as possible can help the person feel safe in their home. It is helpful to be clear about who will be there and when they will be there.
  • If you arrange to meet someone on a certain day or time, you should try to keep the appointment. This also means not arriving late or early. It can be difficult for people to let a new person into their personal space, so being consistent is important. If you can’t make it, give the person as much notice as possible. If you’re unable to give advance notice, please do make a courtesy call on the day you were due to meet (as limited or no communication could cause considerable distress).
  • It is important to respect people’s privacy. This means not talking about the details of work you have completed or are completing for Future Pathways clients to anyone who is not involved in the work. Keeping this information confidential builds trust with people.
  • It is important that people feel safe enough to make choices that are right for them. Make sure that when the person makes decisions, these are respected.
  • Allowing additional time for someone to make a decision can be helpful as decision making can be difficult for some people.
  • Boundaries and predictability are important for everyone but even more so for people who have experienced trauma. Please do not discuss your past experiences with the person. It is also important that the relationship is kept professional and that you don’t attempt to make contact with the person other than about issues related to the job.
First Psychology
Professor Ewan Gillon is Clinical Director of First Psychology. Formed in 2009, First Psychology now offers many different psychology and counselling services, for a wide range of clients. It operates from 13 consulting venues across Scotland and northern England, with nearly 50 rooms and 150 practitioners.  
How did First Psychology begin? 

It evolved from my own counselling and therapy practice, which I started around 2001. The ethos behind it was very much to offer a service that was very client-centred, and able to understand the needs of people in different situations in their lives. I was very keen for it to be very transparent, to provide lots of information, and to not be too diagnostic and or expert-led.  

A man looks into the camera and smiles.
“I wanted to allow each client to find what they need, so that I could offer them different types of therapies and different approaches.”

Initially I worked a lot with men trying to encourage men to consider therapy and to engage more with their mental health. That grew and evolved to eventually become First Psychology, with the same kind of ethos, philosophy and approach. It was initially based in Edinburgh; since then, we’ve expanded throughout Scotland, and are now moving into northern England. 

We still very much focus on working with clients and trying to find the best things for clients. Our philosophy is what we call pluralistic’: that means we’ve got different types of practitioners in our organisation. We’re very much a therapy organisationpeople from counselling and psychotherapy backgrounds, people from cognitive behavioural therapy and other specialist types of therapy, and also some psychologists. And what we try and do is find the right clinician for every client. We’ve got a services team who help our clients to find what they need.  

We’re a fairly broad group of people now: we have around 150 clinicians working across our organisation. We try to take advantage of that by having lots of training inhouse. We’ve got a lot of professional and clinical leadership inhouse, in areas such as children and families, couples, and trauma. 

How do you work out what type of therapy is going to be right for each person?  

We start by speaking to the person themselves, or to someone who knows them well. People want different things. Some people want to talk about their experiences, and just have a place to feel heard, and to be valued and validated. Others are looking for techniques and strategies to help them manage particular difficult experiences they might have. So, we talk to the person themselves, and they are the decisionmaker 

Then we can say, ‘These are the people we have available who do the kind of things that you are looking for’, and we might suggest that the person meets with a particular clinician. In that initial session the clinician can figure out whether what they do and how they work is going to be helpful for the client. 

The client gets a chance to decide whether they like the person, and whether they feel that they can talk to them and they’re going to meet their needs.”

It’s very much a discussion about the next steps, rather than starting anything. You might establish what that particular clinician can offer, and agree a plan or a process of therapy. 

If it doesn’t work in that first sessionfor example, if the clinician feels that a different approach might be better, or that the client needs something other than therapy – then we help the client find that other thing themselves. We might advise the client, ‘This is where I think you should go, or we might refer them to someone else at First Psychology.

Is that approachof having lots of different types of services availablequite unusual?  

Yes, it is. What you tend to find is that a lot of services are either clinicianled or theory-led. Either the clinician has got a particular interest, or there’s a particular philosophy that the people who run the service believe in, and that’s basically what you get. Whereas, we think that clients themselves should be making decisions about what they need, in discussion with clinicians.  

It’s not the client simply sayingI want that and getting it. If someone wants something that we think is not actually going to be helpful to that person, or it’s not something that we feel can offer, we’d have a conversation 

So certainly we’re quite unusual. I think that’s why we’ve grown over the years: we’ve innovated and changed in response to demands from people. 

You said that earlier in your career you were focused on getting men into therapy. Do you think that there’s still some stigma about that, or find that a lot of people – not just men – are resistant to the idea?  

Yes, I think that’s absolutely the case. And I think that there are different types of experiences people have, and different reasons why they might feel apprehensive or unsure about whether therapy is something they want to pursue. Obviously, people may have had bad experiences with authority in the past, and they might in some ways imagine that therapy involves authority.  

“There may be some stigma around speaking to people about your problems: people feeling that they may be judged, or that other people might see them as not being able to cope, or something like that.”

And, to be honest, there are just natural anxieties about entering into something like therapy, which may feel very unknown and very uncertain because it’s not something you do every day. So, it’s naturally an activity that is going to be hard for people to start. It’s not an easy thing to do. 

How do you try to address these sorts of obstacles? 

Over the years we’ve tried different ways of being as open as we can to different types of experiences that people have had, and really thinking through what it is like for someone coming for therapy. In our service team we have an ‘every contact counts philosophy. So, if someone phones up but they don’t book a session, we see that as a good thing, not a bad thing. We want to help. And if someone says, ‘Look, I just want information, that’s fine. We’re not trying to force anyone to do anything, because we want to help people begin in their own minds to break down the barriers.  

Not everyone will come to therapy, not everyone is going to be helped by therapy. I mean, it’s a process that I think generally can be pretty helpful, but there may be other things that are equally helpful to someone in a particular set of circumstances. So, again, it comes back to this philosophy of being very clientcentred, and wanting to help people find what they need for themselves.  

“It’s about understanding that coming for therapy is difficult.”

So we provide information and support, we answer questions, we’re very open and transparent, we offer sessions at different times in the day in different locations, we offer telephone and remote sessions… all of these things making it as possible as it can be for different people to access the service in the way that works for them. 

In many ways your philosophy, values and approach are all similar to those of Future Pathways. 

Yes, I think so. I think we share a real emphasis on clientcenteredness in our way of working.  

Obviously, one difference is that First Psychology is a business. We’re independent: we function and we make our living from doing therapy, which is a good thing because it enables us to do it in the way that we really believe in, rather than being beholden to other organisations and so on. The downside, of course, is that we have to charge, and that’s something that we try our best to manage  

But, I certainly think, having worked with Future Pathways, that there is a lot of overlap in the way that we work. Ultimately, I think we’ve both got the same thing at heart, which is that it matters to us that people are helped and given the support that they themselves feel is helpful to them, rather than imposing something on them. 

“For people who have had difficult experiences in their lives, having power and control and feeling that they are valued and listened to is of immense importance.”

And that is absolutely how we would see every single client who comes through our door.  

We’d like to develop our relationship with Future Pathways, and we can see the opportunity for that. And obviously, as we get to know each other better, we’re really responsive and open to any feedback and support that we get from Future Pathways and the people they support. It’s a relationship that’s growing, and that I hope will continue to grow.