Autumn is approaching and I have heard myself and many others say quite a few times, 'not much of a Summer this year!' However, when I look at what has been going on across the Company these past few months and what has been achieved, there is a stark contradiction to that statement. Films have played a role from documenting our work and the lives of service users to recording some fantastic events and promoting key mental health anti stigma messages. There are links to some of these fantastic films in this newsletter and the Company wide film will be available after it's launch at the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival on the 1st of  October.

The 2014/15 annual reports for each of our service areas are now available, giving us a taste of some of the many achievements across the Company and you can find these on our website and on the intranet.

Fundraising has also played its part from the Fashion show in early July to the hard work a couple of our staff Andrew and Kelsey have no doubt been doing to prepare them for this weekend's Loch Ness 10k! We also have a date for as many people's diaries as possible - Saturday 21st May 2016 from 12.00. This is the date of next year's original Black Isle Bike ride. We have just received a cheque for over £1,000 for the 2015 event and really hope to get a lot more people involved next year. Thanks to Mark, Sean, Lewis and Andrea this year!

The Board also agreed to the creation of a new senior post - Fundraising Manager - which I am delighted about in line with our current attempts to promote Birchwood Highland and the fabulous work we do. By the next newsletter we should be able to share the plans for our fundraising strategy.

We have had quite a few new people join us over the Summer from our three graduate interns, James, Ruth and Sandy who are all shortly departing, projects completed to new arrivals in individual's families to new post holders across the Company.
The Christmas card promotion in the newsletter alerts us to the fact that this time of year is fast approaching. We are selling the same cards as last year, but this year by request they do have a message stamped in them and we will work on new images for next year.

In the meantime, please regularly check the intranet for updates on things happening across the company, from the Big lunch being held at the Recovery Centre to the latest on the music is life project and an App we would like to start developing with ideas welcomed.
Thanks everyone for your ongoing hard work and commitment. I look forward to catching up with whoever is able to make the service users' AGM in Lochaber on the 9th October.

- Emily Stokes, Chief Executive

recent events

Let's Walk a Mile

Thank you to everyone who came along to our Let's Walk a Mile event in Inverness on the 3rd of September which took place at the same time as  See Me Scotland's event in Edinburgh. Thanks to them and Chris Young for their support and inspiration. 

We had a good turnout of staff, service users, volunteers, other organisations, and the general public, all with the common goal of talking about mental health and stopping stigma. 

Take a look at the video below by our Digital Communications Specialist, Brian Vass. As you'll see we had Birchwood Highland Ambassador, Nicola McAlley; HUG Advocacy Project Manager, Graham Morgan; Birchwood Highland Board Chairman, John Palmer; Old High St. Stephen's Church Reverend, Peter W. Nimmo; local MP, Drew Hendry and many more people in attendance showing their support for the charity and the cause.   


Birchwood Highland & Aspire 2 Be at Belladrum Festival

The team at Aspire 2 Be organised a gazebo for the Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival to represent A2B and Birchwood Highland. Intern James Williams showed excerpts from film about Birchwood Highland – due to be premiered at the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival – which was well-received by the public. Intern Ruth Carleton conducted a survey to gather information about people’s views of A2B’s services: this has proven invaluable for developing the project. Leaflets were handed out, donations were given, and awareness of mental health issues was raised. People were happy to take a moment in the festivities’ midst to talk candidly about the importance of maintaining mental wellbeing.

- Sandy Brander, Research and Development Intern

Here's a video about the event by James Williams. This has been posted to Facebook where it got over 6000 views.


Fashion Show

We had a fantastic night at our recent fashion show on the 17th of July and we'd like to thank everyone who came along, volunteered, performed, modelled, or otherwise helped out. Ideas for the next one are already underway! The night raised over £2000 for the charity, which is an excellent result. A special thank you goes to Gerry Reynolds and the Highland Council for allowing us to use the Marquee venue on the eve of the Highland Games in Bught Park. 

We had clothes by Maggie & Suzie and M&Co, live music from Corralach, pole fitness by Wolanski's Pole & Aerial Fitness, comedy by Fiona Redwood and Kieren Lochore (The Comedy Bothy), magic by Toulon Magic, and our compere for the night was Pauline Burnett, Editor of Highland Life Magazine. 

Here are some photos by Brian Vass and a video by James Williams. For all the photos, visit the album on Facebook


Loch Ness Marathon & Baxters Festival of Running

We had some runners in this year's Marathon & Festival of Running! Thanks to Andrew Grieg (link to Just Giving page) (pictured lower right) and Kesley & Dee who ran the 10K and Florence who ran the 5K (pictured in the middle). Congratulations to them on their efforts and we hope you enjoyed it. We also had Lily Scanlan (pictured lower left) taking on the marathon! This is a huge undertaking and we're really grateful to everyone for their efforts in support of Birchwood Highland and mental health. If you're interested in running for Birchwood Highland in future events, please contact Head Office. 


Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival

We have lots going on as part of this year's SMHAFF (Highland). James Williams (pictured left) recently worked with us over the summer filming a documentary about the charity and the work that we do, which will make its debut on the 1st of October at the Town House as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival. This film will also be used in sections on our website to inform people about the charity. 

We will also be holding a night of live music as part of the Music is Life project run by Ambassador Steve Robertson, who is also a local music promoter and heavily involved in the local music scene.

He is running a series of workshops at the moment which will culminate in a night of live music  at Eden Court on Friday 16th October.

For line up confirmation, doors open times etc. keep an eye on the intranet, our website, Facebook and Twitter.  Check out the video for last year's Music is Life event at Hootananny. 

We are also currently discussing creating a Birchwood Highland app with Steve Robertson as a crowdfunding project. Ideas so far have centred around the theme of positivity.

If you have any thoughts for an app that people would find interesting and useful, feel free to get in touch - brian.vass@birchwoodhighland.org.uk 

Many of our service users have taken part in the production on 'The Nine Lives Theory' with Creativity in Care, which will be shown as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival in Inverness, Invergordon, and Alness. 

Quiz & Pub Crawl

Birchwood Highland staff are once again donning their costumes for a Fancy Dress Pub Crawl around Inverness to collect donations and spread the word about what we do.  The date for the pub crawl has been agreed as Friday 30th October.  If you, or any of your friends or family, would like to participate then please contact Head Office. 
Your choice of costume is up to you, however we cannot guarantee that you will be able to beat the costumes of our previous pub crawl, but unfortunately (although some may say fortunately!) the photographic evidence of this has ceased to exist (at least on our Head Office computers!), so we will leave it to you to imagine our Chairman John Palmer as Friar Tuck, Lisa from Head Office in gold hotpants as a highwaywomen and Emily as a cowgirl (along with their Maid Marian, Highwayman and Indian Squall) and look forward to seeing pictures of this pub crawl in the next newsletter!

- Lisa Ross, Team Administrator (Head Office)

We also have a quiz at the Torvean Golf Club on Friday 2nd October at 7.30pm! Enter a team (max of 4 people) for a chance to test your knowledge, win some prizes, and have a great night.

To enter, contact Lisa at Head Office - lisa.ross@birchwoodhighland.org.uk



Mad Hatter's Tea Party

We're looking for people who'd like to throw a Mad Hatter's Tea Party to talk about mental health and raise funds for the charity this Halloween! If you'd like to organise a get together - fancy dress is a must - then get in touch with Head Office for a fundraising pack with ideas, recipes, discussion points and more.   

Services news

Migrants Matter

With funding from See Me Scotland Birchwood Highland have launched a new project in partnership with HUG (Action for Mental Health) and University of the Highlands and Islands called Migrants Matter which will focus on providing mental health support and information for migrants in the Highlands.

Moving to a foreign country can be a lonely and stressful experience for people and it's important to be aware that sometimes they need support. Overcoming mental health stigma is something that can be overcome so that people can seek out the help they need without feeling ashamed or isolated by doing so.

Migrants Matter will improve general information about mental health and signs people can watch out for in themselves and others that might indicate mental health assistance is required. 

Follow along with our Migrants Matter journey on Facebook. If you have any queries, please email migrants.matter@birchwoodhighland.org.uk

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60 Second Interview

Lauren Bell is our newly appointed Business Support Officer. Here is a Q&A so you can get to know her a little better. 

Q. What did you do before you started working for Birchwood Highland? 

I worked for a Letting Agent within Inverness.  I have been in the Estate Agency industry for past 8 Years. 


Q. Who would you most like to be stuck in a lift with? 

Miranda Hart - she would keep me entertained! 


Q. What made you want to work for Birchwood Highland? 

To have a rewarding job with satisfaction of helping others and to gain further knowledge of Mental Health.  A great opportunity to work for a charity, rather than the large corporate companies I am used to. 


Q. What is your ambition? 

To buy a bigger house!


Q. What are your hobbies and interests? 

I have done gymnastics since I was 2 and still have a huge passion for the sport.  I coach at the local Inverness Gymnastics Club as a volunteer and have represented Team GB at various around the world events! 

Easter Ross Office

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The Easter Ross Office has been set up with new signage outside to raise its profile in the area. Gone are the days when mental health charities and organisations didn't have signs on the door! 


Walking Group

The latest outing for the walking group was a trip to Ballachulish. There’s a walk around the old slate quarry with information boards describing the history of the slate industry and the environmental changes since the slate was last mined.

Even though the weather turned wet, everyone agreed it was good to be out on a trip again. Everyone walked some of the way and met up later at the local café for coffee, cakes and the craic! 

Lunch Group

As part of our lunch group on 15th July we raised money for the Red Cross.  Usually everyone pays £1.50 and it goes in the pot for the lunch group but this week was different. We suggested £1.50 as a minimum donation and had sandwiches, cakes, sausage rolls, crisps, juice and tea/coffee... Duncan brought in a video about the history of the Red Cross and the work that they do too. The group raised £36.52 for the Red Cross. Thank you to everyone who came along!

- Jenny Roberts
Cooking Support worker

Lifescan Volunteers

Thank you to the volunteers from Lifescan who were once again at the Recovery Centre taking part in vital work to improve it for staff and service users!

ISS Babies

Congratulations to Julie Miller and Wendy Wemyss who have both recently given birth to baby boys (Scott and Aaron).

Photos from Easter Ross

Thank you to Jennifer Scott, Support Worker at Easter Ross, for sending in these photos taken near a service user's home. I'm sure you'll agree they're gorgeous photos of a beautiful area. 


World Mental Health Day

Joining organisations all over the world including the World Federation of Mental Health and the World Health Organisation, we're raising awareness of what can be done to ensure that people with mental health problems can live with dignity.

We believe that effectively supporting people experiencing mental health problems is on target to become one of the greatest public health challenges of our time. Stigmatising and discriminatory treatment can be particularly distressing when a person is experiencing a health crisis.

We all have mental health, and by failing to treat people with mental health problems with dignity we make it more difficult to ensure that everyone takes steps to safeguard their wellbeing and to seek help, as it can lead to self-stigma, low confidence, low self-esteem, withdrawal and social isolation. Find out more from Mental Health Foundation.

Christmas Cards

Now that we are officially into Autumn, it is time to utter that sometimes dreaded word – Christmas!  We once again have our own Christmas Cards which are already on sale and can be purchased from Head Office.  A pack of four cards costs £1.

Please pop into/contact Head Office if you would like to buy some.


Easy Fundraising

It has been a while since we promoted Easy Fundraising.  We currently have 24 registered Birchwood supporters and have raised in total £539.76 through the website. Raising money for us is so easy with Easyfundraising.org.uk! Whenever you buy anything online – from your weekly shop to your annual holiday – you could be raising a free donation for us.  There are nearly 3000 retailers including Amazon, John Lewis, Aviva, thetrainline, and sainsbury’s who will donate a percentage of the amount you spend to us to say thank you for shopping with them. It is really that simple and doesn’t cost you anything.

All you have to do is:

1. Go to http://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/birchwoodhighland

2. Sign up for free

3. Get shopping - your donations will be collected by easyfundraising and automatically sent to Birchwood Highland. It couldn't be easier!

There are no catches or hidden charges and we will be really grateful for your donations.

If you find that you keep forgetting to raise a donation for us when you buy something online then the easyfundraising Donation Reminder is perfect for you! Follow a few simple steps to install it and the Donation Reminder will give you a handy little reminder whenever a donation is available when you're shopping online. When you see the alert, just click to activate your donation. It's as easy as that!

Shoppers who use the easyfundraising Donation Reminder raise 5 times more donations for their cause because it helps them remember. You'll love it and we will too! Find out more and help raise 5 time more for Birchwood Highland here.

Do you have an iPhone or iPad? With the Easy Fundraising app you can shop on the go and raise free donations for Birchwood Highland with everything you buy!  To get it, visit the App Store and search for ‘easyfundraising’ or find out more here.


We have found a great way to raise money for Birchwood Highland for free. Simply swap your usual search engine (e.g. Google) to Easysearch. Every time you search the web using instead of your usual search engine, you'll raise half a penny for Birchwood Highland. Search just 15 times a day and you can raise around £25 a year.

Why not give it a try? Birchwood Highland will be really grateful for your donations.



The Scanner Protocol for the Use of Scanning Equipment has recently been updated to reflect that staff are now able to use their work mobile phones to scan service user’s notes.  The updated protocol can be found on the sharepoint site, within the policies menu and under operational policies.

Human resources news


Updated Policies


Managing Challenging Volunteer Situations (brought back from previous meeting)

·         Arranging Accessible Meetings
·         Child Protection Policy
·         Fundraising Policy
·         Guidelines and notes of completion of incidents and accidents/updated incident accident/near miss form and investigation form
·         Hygiene standards for the main kitchen BHRC
·         Maternity Risk Assessment
·         Personal Alarm Policy
·         Probation review form
·         Acceptance of Gifts and Hospitality policy
·         Access to service users records policy
·         Equal Opportunities policy for staff and prospective employees
·         Equality & Diversity Policy
·         Equal Opportunities Policy – service users
·         Policy on recruitment of ex-offenders
·         Policy on secure handing, use, storage, retention and disposal of disclosure information
·         Recruitment & Selection policy
·         Methods of service user and carer participation/consultation policy
·         Infection Control Policy (completely re-written)
·         Driving at work environmental risk assessment
·         Mobile Phone policy
·         Driving at work policy

Training Dates

Tuesday 6th October Moving and Handling 9:30 am – 1 pm, Inshes Church

Tuesday 6th October First Aid 2 pm – 4 pm, Inshes Church

Saturday 10th October Food Hygiene 9 am – 5 pm at Inshes Church

Saturday 17th October Medications Refresher 10 am – 1 pm at the Recovery Centre

Sunday 18th October Medications Refresher 10 am – 1 pm at the Recovery Centre

Wednesday 21st October Health and Safety 9 am – 4 pm at Inshes Church

Tuesday 27th October Behaviour that Challenges 9 am – 5 pm at Inshes Church

Tuesday 3rd November Behaviour that Challenges Refresher 9:30 – 12:30 at Inshes Church

Saturday 7th November Food Hygiene Refresher 9 am – 1 pm at Inshes Church

Monday 9th November Health and Safety 9 am - 4 pm at Inshes Church

Tuesday 10th November Behaviour that Challenges Refresher 9:30 am – 12:30 pm at Inshes Church

Friday 13th November Health and Safety 9 am – 4 pm at Inshes Church

Saturday 14th November Medications 10 am – 1 pm at the Recovery Centre

Sunday 15th November Medications 10 am – 1 pm at the Recovery Centre

Tuesday 17th November Adult Support and Protection 1 pm – 4 pm at St Vincent’s Care Home, Kingussie

Tuesday 8th December Adult Support and Protection 1 pm – 4 pm in Invergordon – Venue TBC

Friday 11th December Communications 9 am – 4 pm at Inshes Church

Saturday 12th December Food Hygiene 9 am – 5 pm at Inshes Church

Tuesday 15th December Health and Safety 9 am – 4 pm at Inshes Church

Tuesday 12th January Communications 9 am – 4 pm at Inshes Church

Tuesday 12th January Adult Support and Protection 1 pm – 4 pm at Council Chamber, Dingwall


Starters & Leavers


Joan MacKay RSW Lochaber

Jayne Geddes SW Inverness

Lauren Bell Business Support Officer, Inverness

Amanda Hicks SW A2B

Sandy Brander – Research Intern A2B

Lynne Main RSN BHRC

Simon Venn SW BHRC

Jason Carr SW BHRC

Lauren Johnstone SN BHRC

Marion MacPherson RSW BHRC

Davy Heinsius RSW BHRC



Audrey MacLeod, Administrator Head Office

James Williams Film & Video Production Intern

Rebecca MacKay SW BHRC

Anna Siezckarek SW BHRC

Rachel Brown Business Support Officer ISS

Catherine Munro SW BHRC

Nicole Bebbington SW ERSS