The Big Heart at Belladrum

Thanks to everyone who showed an interest in our Big Heart at Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival this year, which was decorated with lots of lovelocks and cloots with personal messages from festival-goers. The heart, which is the Highlands' biggest artwork, will be on display in Inverness soon. We'll keep you posted on the details! In the meantime, here's a video of the heart at Belladrum 2017.  

Healthy Working Lives - August 2017 - PTSD


As some of you may be aware, Birchwood Highland is a recognised Healthy Working Lives employer - receiving a Gold Award for our efforts in December 2011, and continuing to maintain our position on an annual basis.

Healthy Working Lives is an initiative supported by the NHS which assists employers and employees to develop health promotion and safety themes in the workplace, in a practical, logical way that's beneficial to all.

The aim of Healthy Working Lives is to give people, whatever they do for a living, and wherever they are in Scotland, the opportunity to work in ways which allow them not only to sustain but also to improve their health and well-being.

As part of Birchwood Highland's strategy to encourage health and well-being in the workplace, each month we focus on a particular topic or theme, and this month's theme is Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

Extensive research has been conducted to further our understanding of PTSD and war veterans have more recently brought PTSD to public attention.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by extremely stressful, frightening or distressing events. Individuals with PTSD often relive their traumatic experiences through nightmares and flashbacks.  These symptoms are often severe and persistent enough to have a significant impact on a person’s day-to-day life.  

Alarmingly, researchers have found that the risk of suicide in veterans is 21 % higher when compared to civilian adults.*

Keep an eye out on our social media throughout August to find out more about how PTSD affects people, and where to seek help if you're experiencing symptoms.  

Useful websites: 

*Source: Dr. Caitlin Thompson. VA Suicide Prevention Program, Facts about Veteran Suicide. (July 2016)

Birchwood Highland appoints new Fundraising and Communications Manager

We'd like to welcome Màiri Macdonald as Fundraising and Communications Manager, based at the organisation’s Head Office in Inverness. Màiri, who joins Birchwood from Inverness Chamber of Commerce, has a background in event management and specialises in marketing and communications as well as business development. The organisation has worked extremely hard to raise its profile locally over the last few years and she hopes to continue to build on that to effectively communicate and market Birchwood’s services, as well as helping to improve our fundraising capabilities.

Màiri is a local girl and her knowledge of the Highland business community provides a fresh perspective for Birchwood Highland.  We look forward to her developing new means of fundraising as well as advancing our own communications strategy.

To contact Màiri, please email or call 01463 236 507.

View the press release of this appointment here

Ascot Adventures

A very glamorous day took place at the spectacular Kingsmills Hotel for a day at the Ascot Races.

The day was a huge success for monies raised for Birchwood Highland and Marie Curie, which was just over £10,000! This event was supported by the Highland Business Women Group and attracted more than 130 people for a day of champagne, food, music and the chances to have a flutter on the horses. A gala auction along with raffle and a silent auction also took place on the day.

Great prizes were kindly donated for this charity event, so a big thank you to everybody who supported this.

The photos from this event are available through Alison White Photography, and 25% of all photo sales (after cost) will be kindly donated to Birchwood Highland and Marie Curie. The link is here:


30th Anniversary in Fort William

A fantastic day was had in Fort William to celebrate our 30th anniversary with Lochaber service with the bonus of the glorious weather.

The day featured a Carnival parade to show off the wonderful wings and costumes that Karrie and Chris from Creativity in Care helped make with the service users. They were all very colourful and beautifully made and everyone was very impressed, and even caught the locals and the tourists attention!

The day featured a walk down the high street in Fort William and ended with a celebration with stalls, fun games, music, sweet treats and of course - free ice cream!

The day was a huge success and brought along young children, schools and passers by.




30th Anniversary at Whin Park

What a day we had at 'B In The Park', Birchwood Highland's celebration of 30 years of providing support in the region.

Staff, people who use Birchwood Highland's services, and members of the public in Inverness had a day of smiles, great hats and lovely memories. Our thanks go to everyone involved - especially Chris and Karrie of Creativity In Care Creativity In Care who assisted with hat-making workshops and lots more besides! Thanks also to Gus and Betty at Whin Park Whin Park Inverness and Black Rock Ceilidh Band BlackRock Ceilidh for getting us dancing on the day! See a video of the event on Facebook.

We're looking forward to our parties in Invergordon (Saturday June 17th) and Fort William (Tuesday June 20th) - join us there if you can!

Here's to the next 30 years everyone!

Dinner with the Stars

A night of great food, fun times, The Federals and fundraising was hosted by Birchwood Highland's ambassador Nicola McAlley on Friday 19th May. The event, which celebrated Birchwood Highland's 30th year of delivering support across the region, was a huge success, raising over £5,000 on the night. Top chefs from around the Highlands were joined by Masterchef: The Professionals champion Gary MacLean, with a treat for foodies thrilling the 150 invited guests. Red Poppy's Nick Aburrow served a gorgeous haggis and pakora starter, with Harry from Sam's Inverness creating a delicious vegetarian main dish, while John Brawley and his team from Artysans Cafe treated guests to a delicious dessert. Of course, the star of the show was Gary MacLean, who created his winning dish from Masterchef: The Professionals then stuck around for some selfies with the crowd while fabulous local band The Federals got everyone up and dancing.

Birchwood Highland would like to thank Nicola McAlley for her fabulous hosting, chefs Gary, Nick, John and Harry for their skill and delicious dishes, the Artysans team for their calm and composure in the kitchen, Paul Spencer for expertly hosting the gala auction, The Federals for getting everyone going and Mary-Dawn, Irek and Andrew at Strathpeffer Pavilion for being so accommodating.

Quiz Night

A record three Birchwood teams took part in the annual quiz night fundraiser at Tradewinds Bar on 26th April.

“Grow Well Grown Ups” did us proud and were well deserved runners up in the competition.  However for our other two teams it was a close run race for bottom place with “Golden Wonders” just pipping Recovery Rocks for this prestigious award and grabbing the Wooden Spoon out of their grasp!

Well done to all our teams for the support and enthusiasm making this a fun and enjoyable night.

The event raised £167 for SUG funds, this will be used to buy new work benches for the communal room.  Many thanks to Tradewinds Bar once again for their hospitality and also to local businesses who provided some great raffle prizes.

Roll on next year.

Let's Walk a Mile 2017

We took to the streets on Saturday 6th May for #LetsWalkaMile, an event which aims to spread the word about mental health awareness and the importance of ending stigma. Mental ill health is very common, but people often delay or avoid seeking help because of the stigma attached to conditions like depression, anxiety, OCD, etc. Let's Walk a Mile events aim to bring people together to talk openly about mental health and hopefully provide people with the information and confidence they need to seek help if they need it. 

Here's some coverage of the event in the Inverness Courier.

The Sun Lounge is Open!

It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were discussing at a management team meeting at the Recovery Centre best and most efficient use of space.  Emily Stokes asked if there were any additional requirements– tentatively the suggestion of a Sun Lounge was made to enable more comfortable communal space for residents.  It was agreed that this would be a good idea but how on earth would this be funded.  That day turning the dream to reality and the money needed seemed very far away!!

However generous funding following a successful application to the Highland Cross for £45,000 quickly turned that dream into reality for us all, with Birchwood Highland adding to this sum to complete the build.

The 19th April 2017 will be a day forever etched in my memory; the day the Sun Lounge built by Sanderson Joinery was officially opened by Calum Munro and John Fraser from the Highland Cross in an afternoon tea celebration enjoyed by all present.  Amongst guests were John Palmer, Chair of the Board of Directors and Emily Stokes, Birchwood Highland’s Chief Executive, residents, staff and some family members.

The achievement of participants in the Highland Cross is to me something special. Participants cross coast to coast through spectacular Scottish Highland scenery starting at Kintail in the west through the beauty and rugged scenery of Glen Affric and Strathglass to finish at Beauly in the east.  Incredible as is the personal achievements of participants is the amount of money that the Highland Cross has raised over the years to the benefit of others.  In 2016 the sum raised was the staggering amount of £277,189 and over the 34 years of the Highland Cross a total of £4.4 million have been raised to benefit Highland Communities.  The Highland Cross needs as well as participants many volunteers to help coordinate the event and a number of residents, staff and directors were delighted to help out at the finishing line in the 2016 event.

The reason the day will be forever etched for me is that the Sun Lounge will always be a reminder that wishes and dreams can come true; that in the world are many good people and what incredible strength and power can be achieved when people pull together in a positive way for the greater good. 

Birchwood Highland sincerely thanks the Highland Cross for the new Sun Lounge at the Recovery Centre.

Annabel Mowat

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