Two Major Wins at this Year’s Highland Business Women Awards

Local charity Birchwood Highland is celebrating its 30th Anniversary in style with not one but two major wins at this year’s Highland Business Women awards.

The region's leading mental health charity not only won Third Sector Organisation of the Year for the second year in a row, but also scooped the coveted Team of the Year gong.

This meant beating off stiff competition from fabulous charities such as Contact The Elderly, Creativity In Care, Children 1st and Gateway. The team award was hotly contested by last year's winners Macleod & MacCallum and Dolphin Spirit. What great company to keep in both categories!

Birchwood Highland’s Chief Executive, Emily Stokes, said: “We are proud to be celebrating our 30th year delivering support to people across the region, and hugely grateful to Highland Business Women’s organisers and judges for choosing us as winners in this our special year. 
"Obviously we are chuffed to bits with both awards, but Team of the Year is particularly special as the entry focused on exactly who makes up our team: the staff, volunteers and people who use our service. All are equally important in believing that recovery from mental illness is possible and all make up the Team of the Year.”

On the night £4,000 was raised from Highland Business Women’s fabulous raffle and the hugely raucous ‘Hit or Miss’ game supported by the lovely people at Belladrum. All of the cash raised on the night will go to fund Birchwood Highland’s mental health awareness sessions in schools.

The success in award ceremonies comes hot on the heels of the charity’s inspection by The Care Inspectorate, the body which regulates, inspects and supports the improvement of care, social work and services for the benefit of the people who use them.

Birchwood Highland’s community services and its Recovery Centre service all achieved ‘Excellent’ 6 scores, for the third year in a row. Birchwood Highland is one of only three organisations in Scotland to achieve ‘Excellent’ grades for all of its services.

Scooty play casino spectacular

Fancy a bit of mid-summer fun?

Ness Vegas is a brand new event for Inverness, bringing casino fun and great entertainment to the Inverness Highland Games! 

We're delighted the sensational Scooty & The Skyhooks will be playing a live set on the night - after a spot of casino shenanigans! On the night you'll buy special 'casino cash' to play with on the roulette, blackjack and poker tables, in a bid to win big and bag the great prizes we will have on offer. 

So what are you waiting for? Tickets are just £25 and you can get ahead of the queues by buying your Casino Cash early!

Saturday 15th July 2017, 7-10PM

Highland Business Women's Awards 2017

Birchwood Highland is delighted to announce that the charity has been shortlisted in the Highland Business Women's Awards in the following categories...

Team of the Year - the application was for every member of staff and everyone who uses our services.

Best Third Sector Organisation - we are the current holders of this award as we won in 2016.

In this, our 30th year of providing support to people across the Highlands who are experiencing mental ill health, we are also delighted to have been named Highland Business Women's Charity of the Year 2017. As every HBW meeting will fundraise for Birchwood Highland, that association will enable us to fund mental health awareness sessions in schools across the region.

Dinner with the Stars

Masterchef winner to cook up a storm for Birchwood Highland on Friday May 19th.

Birchwood Highland is delighted to announce a very special evening for food-lovers, featuring this year’s winner of Masterchef: The Professionals, Gary Maclean.

The event, which sold out in its glittering Highland debut last year, will be held in the beautiful setting of Strathpeffer Pavilion. And this year it’s even more special as it’s the jewel in the crown of Birchwood Highland’s 30th anniversary celebrations.

Gary will create the main dish for the Dinner With The Stars event and be joined by top class chefs from around the Highlands who will each be in charge of the starter and dessert.

With great entertainment and gala auction, all in the fabulous setting of Strathpeffer Pavilion, it's set to be a very special evening. Transport to and from Inverness will be available. For tickets, priced £45, go to…/19/dinner-with-the-st… or call Veronica on 01463 236 507. Tickets are available for individuals or for groups of up to 10.


Children's Mental Health Week 2017

Children's Mental Health Week will take place from the 6th-12th February 2017. In 2017, the aim of our week is to encourage everyone - adults and children alike - to spread a little kindness. We've all Know someone going through a tough time, and it can be hard to know what to do to help, especially where children are involved.  It may sound simple but in these moments, small acts of kindness can make all the difference. Plus did you know studies show that being kind can make you happier and less stressed? Find out how you, your school, or your organsiation can get involved and support the week on the link below Children's Mental Health Week 2017    

Children's Mental Health Week will take place from the 6th-12th February 2017.

In 2017, the aim of our week is to encourage everyone - adults and children alike - to spread a little kindness.

We've all Know someone going through a tough time, and it can be hard to know what to do to help, especially where children are involved.  It may sound simple but in these moments, small acts of kindness can make all the difference.

Plus did you know studies show that being kind can make you happier and less stressed?

Find out how you, your school, or your organsiation can get involved and support the week on the link below

Children's Mental Health Week 2017



Birchwood Highland named Charity of the Year by Highland Business Women

Birchwood Highland is delighted to announce it has been chosen as Highland Business Women's Charity of the Year for 2017. In a ceremony held at Inverness Town House on the 11th of January, the charity was up against stiff opposition in the form of Cretivity in Care, Children 1st and Contact the Elderly. However, it was Birchwood Highland's call for funding for mental health awareness sessions in schools which won the day. 

The aim of  Birchwood Highland's mental health awareness sessions is to arm young people with the tools they need to deal with how they feel, show them how to develop coping strategies and let them know they are not alone. 

Highland Business Women's President Victoria Leslie said, "We look forward to working closely with Birchwood Highland over the next 12 months. We had four very worthy charities to choose from last night, so we are delighted Birchwood Highland won the vote of our members."

Any schools wishing to host one of Birchwood Highland's mental health awareness sessions should email

See the press release here.

Birchwood Highland's Column in Highland Life Magazine

Look out for our brand new column in Highland Life magazine. Free with the Inverness Courier, Strathspey Herald and Caithness Courier in the first week of every month, the magazine will feature a page exploring the different sides to happiness each month. Fundraising Manager Pauline Burnett will explore the ‘H’ word, covering everything from ‘what makes you happy?’ to ‘Does happiness matter?’ and ‘What if I can’t be happy?’. It’ll make for a great read and if you can’t catch it in the magazine, you’ll find it all on our website. 

2017 Calendars now Half Price

Would you like a year of stunning images to adorn your wall? We have teamed up with Tim Winterburn, one of the Highland’s best landscape photographers, to produce a limited edition calendar for 2017. The calendar Features beautiful shots from around the Highlands for only £5 while stocks last. It makes a wonderful gift for friends, family – or yourself!

Thank You for 2016!

We’d like to say a huge thank you…

As we near the end of 2016, our year of Hearts, Minds and Highlanders, Pauline Burnett, Birchwood Highland’s Fundraising Manager, would like to say a huge thank you to all of the staff and service users who have contributed their skills, time and enthusiasm to the events.

We couldn’t do it without the support and generosity of all of you. The following businesses and individuals have all been instrumental in our successful year:

A is for… Ambassadors

Our wonderful ambassadors Nicola McAlley & Steve Robertson

Music promoter Steve brought Music Is Life workshops to the residents and staff at the Recovery Centre, while super-busy STV reporter Nicola gave up some of her time this year to volunteer for a few hours’ work in the garden and kitchen and ensured great coverage for our Migrant's Matter Conference as well as doing the Mad May Mile for us. Thanks guys!

B is for… The Beast Race

Sarah Smith, Andrew Greig, Jayne Geddes, Sheila MacLeod, Sheila's daughter and Derek Thain teamed up to take on The Beast Race. A 10k obstacle course around - and in! - Loch Ness, it certainly challenged them all physically and mentally. Massive thanks to the brave team who raised over £1000!

B is also for… Birchwood Highland’s Big Belladrum Heart

We’re delighted to say the heart looked fantastic in both its naked form and once hundreds of festival-goers had added cloots and lovelocks! Thank you to everyone who added a cloot or a lovelock to the gorgeous structure. We couldn’t have done it without the following individuals and businessed who donated their time, skills and enthusiasm for free….

Joe Gibbs, Sam, Derry and the Belladrum Tartan Heart festival team for finding the heart a beautiful home; Jim Oliver, Alan Mackay, Iain Kershaw and Dave Mackay and the team at Serimax for creating something truly amazing; Sandy and the team at Grampian Steel for supplying the materials; Donald Macarthur at Fairhurst for making sure it was safe; Gordon and the team at Bannerman (Tain) Ltd. for transporting the heart through narrow lanes and, last but not least, Jamie and the team at All-Round Signs for helping us shout about it. 

Birchwood Highland’s Big Belladrum Heart raised £3000 at Bella 2016 and we look forward to seeing you all there again for Bella 2017!

C is for… Caring & Sharing

Izzie MacDonald of Caring & Sharing is a great support to charities and groups across the Highlands. Caring And Sharing donated £1000 to the Easter Ross service user fund to enable outings and workshops for the guys there.

D is for… Dinner With The Stars

In May we put on an ambitious dinner in one of the Highlands’ best new buildings, UHI Inverness College. There are so many people to mention here as it was an amazing evening of generosity from the Highlands and beyond. Thank you to all of the staff who supported in the hectic run-up to the event, came along to help set and enjoyed the evening’s shenanigans. 

Our wonderful chefs on the night were Jamie Scott of The Newport, Mark Dickson of Bunchrew House Hotel, David Barnett of The Torridon, Elizabeth Brown of Capability Brown’s and thanks also to Phil Stewart of Nourish, Inverness.

Our wonderful location was UHI Inverness College and we would like to thank Georgie Parker, Diane Rawlinson, Martin White, Robbie Sherrifs, Pauline Tuthill and all of the students who assisted at the event until the wee small hours.

Our suppliers were fabulous, too: thanks to Ali Asher and all of the staff at Ashers; Gary Williamson and the staff at Williamson Foodservice; James and Stevie and their team at Hastie & Dyce, Douglas Greig and the team at Highland Print & Design; Annette and the team at Glenmorangie; Donna Peacock at Highland Cordials; Heidi and the team at Munro’s Nursery; Dan and Rohaise Rose-Bristow at The Torridon; Mangus and the staff of Coast & Glen; Nigel Parkin and the staff at Bunchrew House Hotel; Grant and the staff at North Of Scotland Marquees; Kim at Black Orchid; Highland Wineries; Speyside Glenlivet Water and last but not least Craig and the ever-supportive Limelight Events Services guys. 

Our special thanks go to Bruce MacGregor, Eilidh Davies and Conor O’Hara for performing and hosting the event so brilliantly, and the wonderful Paul Spencer of Dingwall Mart for hosting the auction. 

Thanks to everyone who made the night such a success, especially Ronnie Macintosh, Deirdrie Smyth, Scott Bremner, Donald Mackenzie, Gemma Palumbo, Maggie Blyth and friends and all of the guests for their generosity on the evening. 

The event raised £10,500 which was an amazing result.

D is also for… Birchwood Highland’s Directors

They’re a hands-on bunch, whether it’s helping out at the finish line of the Highland Cross, bidding for auction prizes at dinners, starring in films , helping put up bike sheds, attending Board Meetings during the year, or answering really tough questions on quiz nights, they’re there supporting us. Thank you guys. We appreciate your efforts, skills and time – you know it matters!

D is also for…Dows Bar staff

Glenn, Moira and the staff at Dows Bar for our monthly quiz and Tune Bingo nights, great food and smiles.

E is for… Ellerium Games

Much fun was had when the staff at Ellerium Games in Inverness laid on a 24-hour games marathon for James Wilson, one of our trekkers. What a hoot!

F is for… film stars

We called on Alison White, Joni Phippin, Ryan Harkins and Stuart Williamson to take part in a short film. Called One Ordinary Day, Four Ordinary Lives it was made for 2016’s Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival. The film highlighted the sameness, not the difference in people’s lives, asking the question if one in 4 of us will experience mental ill health, which one of us is it… and does it matter? The film has been viewed over 12,600 times so far on Facebook and makes for a really rewarding watch.

H is for… Highland Cross

Our massive thanks and admiration go to the runners, riders and organisers of the event. We had a great time supporting you all at the finish line where we took bikes from very tired competitors, handed out medals and soaked up the fabulous atmosphere. To then be handed a cheque for £45,000 to enable us to build vital social space at the Recovery Centre was the icing on the cake!

H is also for… Highland Third Sector Interface

Mhairi and her team awarded Birchwood Highland a £4,800 grant to fund hardware and training for a pilot scheme trialling remote care. The project goes live early next year so watch this space.

J is for... the Jeffrey family

Andrew ran the Edinburgh half marathon, raising £414, while dad Gavin helped on many fronts – as a willing quizzer and a kind donor of furniture. Jumpin’ Jeffreys, we salute you!

J is for... Jo MacFarlane

Hailed as the Poet Laureate of Recovery, Jo is an Edinburgh-based poet who quite literally bounced back from mental ill health. After trying to commit suicide by jumping from Salisbury Crag in the capital, she now writes beautiful and challenging poetry. We are indebted to her for allowing us to use her piece ‘First Aid’ for a film we made with the festival-goers at Belladrum. The film reached over 26,000 people and if you haven’t seen it yet you can go to our Facebook page.

K is for… Kit Fraser and the staff at Glow Bar, Inverness

Author, bar owner and raconteur Kit gave us a great evening’s entertainment at Glow Bar, Inverness. The owner of Hootananny, Kit’s always on form and told us his secrets to being happy. We enjoyed not only his talk but the accompanying cocktails, too!

L is for… The Legion, Dingwall

Marian and the staff at The Legion in Dingwall have been very supportive for our trekkers Rosie and Fiona, laying on Tune Bingo and a successful Christmas Fayre for people in the town. We loved the singalong and the mulled wine!

M is for… our Mad May Mile friends

Thanks to Gus Macdonald for allowing us to run riot in daft costumes around Whin Park one day in May! We raised around £1,000 - and a few eyebrows - on the day!

R is for… Roy and Morag MacGregor

Roy and his wife Morag have always been so supportive of Birchwood Highland’s Easter Ross service. We enjoyed hosting them in the newly-refurbished offices on Invergordon High Street, where speeches from service users explaining the difference Birchwood Highland had made to their lives left most of the happy gang in tears.

R is also for… Our runners

Three runners all the way from Switzerland supported Birchwood Highland in September's Loch Ness Marathon. Thanks to Sabine and Estelle ran the Marathon and Stefano and Jake ran the 10K. Jess also ran the 10K for us.  They raised over £1,357. Thanks also to Gwen Peddle who raised £450 single-handedly in the Brodie Castle 10k!

S is for… Socially-aware businesses

We’re delighted to say that two people who use our service will be taking on the trek in the Himalayas and to speed them on their way local firms Innes & Mackay and Castle Group Security have donated £500 and £1000 respectively to their fundraising pots. Thank you for your generosity!

T is for… Our intrepid trekkers

This April nine brave souls will take on the Himalayas. With a special package created by Julia McLeay of Spirit Journeys Worldwide, we are packing our bags for the trip of a lifetime. Our thanks go to the wonderful Julia for all of her help in planning and herding us all into position! Special thanks and good luck wishes go to Kelly Howley of Clark Thomson Insurance, Rosie Deverell of Birchwood Highland’s Recovery Centre, Birchwood Highland Support Worker Andrea, Birchwood Highland Community Services Manager Linda Birnie, Fundraising Manager Pauline Burnett and the wonderful Fiona MacKenzie, Andrew, Breck and Anthony for all of their fundraising efforts and commitment to getting fit! We salute you! Race you to the top!

If you would like to donate to the trekking team, click here.

T is also for… Teenage Fanclub

The fabulous band allowed us to use the lyrics to ‘Save’, one of their great songs, for a film we made at Belladrum. The film reached over 16,000 people on Facebook. To view it go to our Facebook page. 

V is for… V8 Café

Ronnie Dyce and his team laid on a prize bingo night for Andrea Morgan, one of our trekkers. Basket supper and bingo… what’s not to like?! 

Y is for… You

Without your ongoing hard work and dedication in your day to day work as well as your support for Birchwood Highland's wider objectives, including its fundraising efforts, we wouldn't be half as successful as we have been or have had as much fun this year.

Thank you for 2016. We look forward to more great achievements, fun and excitement in 2017.

Talking to Adults about Mental Health

Young people in the Highlands have helped create a new pack to make it easier to speak about mental health at home with 11,000 copies being distributed so far! The project, led by Birchwood Highland, aimed to find out the views of young people on the ways they would like adults at home to approach the subject of mental health in daily conversations and how to offer support.

Adults can find it difficult to openly chat about mental health and mental health problems with their children. This in turn can make it difficult for young people to open up about mental health. A survey of 885 young people aged 15-25 by national anti stigma programme See Me, who funded this project, found that only 37% said they would tell someone if they were finding it difficult to cope with their mental health, compared to 78% who would tell someone if they were physically ill.

The Talking to Adults About Mental Health project spoke to children around the age of 13 from Grantown Grammar, finding out what might stop them from talking about mental health.

From this they developed a leaflet which can be used to encourage open conversation. The leaflet contains the views of young people about mental health stigma in society and why can be difficult to talk about mental health issues, especially at home.

Some young people said that it can be difficult to talk about mental health because they might not be believed, they didn’t want their family to worry about them or even that they may be disowned.

They said it would be easier to talk at home if someone else could be able to speak to a parent or guardian, or if adults had a better understanding of mental health. Some of the views reveal heart rending fears about what might happen if other people knew about their mental health problems and the potential reaction of adults within the home. We believe that use of this leaflet will help both young people and adults in the home to keep an open dialogue about the issues of mental health problems and mental health stigma and discrimination. This, in turn, could lead to adults being able to support young people better when they experience difficult times, more timely seeking of professional help, and much greater chance of full recovery.

Eleanor Ogilvie, See Me communities manager, said: “Young people don’t feel that adults take them seriously when it comes to mental health. But they should be able to speak openly about what they are going through, without feeling guilty. It is okay not to be okay. Everyone involved in young people’s lives needs to have the confidence to open up conversations about mental health and be supportive about what to do next. We all need someone we can talk to and trust.  We want young people to know that there will be a person that will have the ability to listen and be there for you. ”  

See the information pack here.

2017 Calendars On Sale Now!

We have 2017 Calendars for sale on the website. These feature beautiful images capturing the beauty of the Highlands by Inverness-based photographer Tim Winterburn. Pick up yours and help support Birchwood Highland! 



Birchwood Highland receives massive £45,000 
boost from The Highland Cross

Organisers, supporters and volunteers gathered in Inverness yesterday for a ceremony to celebrate the achievements of this year’s Highland Cross event - and discover the total amount brought in by the annual duathlon. 

A record £277,189 was raised by the runners and riders who took part in The Highland Cross, a50-mile duathlon (20 miles on foot, 30 miles on bike) traversing the spectacular Scottish Highlands coast to coast, west to east from Kintail through Glen Affric and Strathglass to Beauly. That’s a cumulative total of £4.4 million raised for the Highlands in the event’s 34-year history.

Birchwood Highland’s Deputy Chief Executive, Annabel Mowat, gratefully accepted a cheque for £45,000 on behalf of the charity, which will fund a vital new social space at the charity’s Recovery Centre in Inverness. The charity, which is at the leading edge of mental health recovery, owns and manages Scotland’s only centre dedicated to assisting people to take control of their lives and move forward in the face of enduring mental health issues.

Annabel said: “This fantastic donation will make a huge difference to the lives of the people we support at the Recovery Centre. Significant and enduring mental health issues can be a real barrier to what a lot of folks take for granted - what sounds like simple things such as sitting talking to others, sharing opinion, eating meals together – can be so important.  When we first thought how vital some additional social space was for us, we then considered the cost… it seemed like many, many years away… so to say we are delighted to have had a successful application is to understate how we feel. Residents and staff alike are really chuffed.”

Work has already begun on the new sun lounge at the Recovery Centre and it is hoped the vital space will be ready to use by early 2018, with the Highland Cross team as special guests at the opening ceremony.

This year six charities received a cash injection by The Highland Cross and one of its organisers, Calum Munro, was delighted to reveal that a further seven charities will benefit now that the final figure has been tallied.

Speaking to the gathered supporters and volunteers, Calum said: “The work you do makes the Highlands proud – you are amazing individuals.” Along with co-founder of the event Gerry Grant, Calum is the recipient of a shiny new MBE for their efforts. He added: “This is for the team - without your commitment, sweat, time, leave from work and lofts stacked full of Highland Cross stuff – we couldn’t do it. I will wear it with immense pride, but I will wear it for you.”

Service User AGM

Our annual service users AGM in October was a fabulous event, with over 90 service users, staff and Board Directors attending from each of our service locations.  Representatives from each service user group took to the podium to feedback the activities and achievements in their service area over the past year and also came with photo boards for people to view at their leisure.  We also heard Sharon’s individual recovery story.

Following the excellent presentations, the hosts, Inverness support service served a fabulous lunch of bangers and mash followed by a delicious choice of cakes. We were unable to do a raffle this year as the event was held at Inshes church, but people’s names were put into a hat for a lucky draw prize of freshly picked fruit and vegetables from thegarden at the Recovery Centre and Brian from Lochaber was the lucky winner. 

The afternoon was spent on various activities including making Christmas candle decorations, a trip to roller bowl for those who rarely get there and a few others checked out the shops.  A great day was had by all.

Top Marks!

Birchwood Highland’s community services have been recognised again this year as providing truly excellent care and support services, having retained our sixes, the highest rating awarded following a 2 ½ day inspection by the Care Inspectorate. 

The Care Inspectorate assessed our services in terms of quality of care and support and quality of staffing.  We are thrilled to have this continued recognition of the excellent work that our staff do daily and enjoyed being able to demonstrate our approach and ongoing commitment to continuously improving our service provision.

See the full press release here.

Four Ordinary Lives, One Ordinary Day

Our film for this year's Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival is now online. This film was made to highlight sameness rather than difference when it comes to mental illness, in that we often don't know who is experiencing mental ill health and who isn't. What really matters is that no-one is made to experience stigma. 

Thanks to Alison White, Joni Phippin, Ryan Harkins and Stuart Williamson for being our four participants! 

Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival

The Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival launch will take place on Thursday, 6th October at the Bike Shed in Merkinch where art work will be displayed.  The closing event will take place at the Town Hall on Wednesday, 26th October. 
Our 'Seas the Day' installation will be displayed at Eden Court for 2 weeks, between 10th and 23rd October.  We will also host a film night at Eden Court on Thursday, 20th October. It will start at 19.45pm with a screening of our short film which will then be followed by a feature film entitled 'It’s Kind of a Funny Story'. After the films a panel discussion will take place.  Tickets for the night are available at Eden Court. The prices are: Adult - £9.50; Concession - £8.50; U18s/student - £6.