30th Anniversary Stakeholder Event

We held our 30th Anniversary Stakeholder Event at Eden Court on the 21st of November 2017. Thank you to all who attended and made the day a success! Hear from some of the attendees in this film made on the day. 

Short Film: A Life of Mental Health Problems

To highlight how far mental health care has come over the years, we produced a short film which tells the story of Ian Elder, a Birchwood Highland service user who experienced some of the treatments and facilities, such as Craig Dunain Hospital in Inverness in the 1950's and 1960's.  

Celebrating 30 Years!

We also screened the film below which highlights our mission, successes and achievements and highlights some of the valuable work that we do. 

Birchwood Highland's First Ever Charity Shop

We have announced an exciting new not-for-profit project which will help meet the increased demand for the organisation’s services in the Easter Ross area.

Set to open in early 2018, our first ever charity shop will be located on Invergordon’s High Street, in the heart of the Easter Ross port town.  The shop aims to sell high-quality pre-loved and second-hand goods, including: ladies, gents and children’s clothing; jewellery and accessories; small items of furniture and household goods; as well as some new and unused items.

As well as everything you’d expect from a charity shop – and more - this pioneering venture will operate as a social enterprise, not only benefiting customers, but also providing meaningful activity for people we support; through work and volunteer-based experiences.

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The charity shop will rely on donations from members of the public, as well as from local businesses, and any items passed on will be gratefully received in the run-up to the shop opening next year.  Donations may include: good quality ladies, gents and children’s clothing/shoes; children’s toys; jewellery; small items of furniture; household goods and gift items.  Items can be donated at our Head Office at 59 Tomnahurich Street, Inverness, IV3 5DT on Mondays – Fridays, 9am – 5pm.  Items can also be donated locally at Birchwood Highland’s office at 108 High Street, Invergordon, IV18 0DR on Mondays – Fridays, 9am - 5pm.

Supervisors and volunteer shop assistants will also be required to help run the new shop, and applications for these positions are now open.  Volunteering can be an extremely rewarding experience, so if you have time to spare, and would like to help support a Highland charity - as well as helping to tackle mental health stigma and make a real difference to your local community - we’d love to hear from you.

All applications will be subject to references and training and support will be provided.  For further information on volunteering, please call our Head Office on 01463 236 507 or email info@birchwoodhighland.org.uk.

Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival 2017

Phil Fisher: A participant in 'My World, Mental Health'.

Phil Fisher: A participant in 'My World, Mental Health'.

This year, the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival in the Highlands will kick off on 5th October at 6pm with the Opening Night at the Bike Shed. Like last year, this will be a celebratory night featuring an art and photography exhibition, live readings, and film screenings, all exploring mental health, stigma and this year’s theme of Reclaim.

The Screen Machine Mobile Cinema

The Screen Machine Mobile Cinema

Another big event will be the SMHAF Highland Annual Gathering Night (click to book) taking place at Eden Court’s One Touch Theatre on 24th October at 6pm. The night will comprise a very attractive programme including two films produced by Birchwood Highland. The first one entitled “My World, My Mental Health” shows how different activities can help people maintain their mental wellbeing. The second film entitled “Reclaim the Future” is a joint project which we worked on with other Highland partners. It discusses the issues of mental health stigma and what needs to be done to overcome it. This short film will also be shown by the Screen Machine, the Highland mobile cinema reaching the most remote communities in our region. Screened before the main feature throughout October, it will make sure that the festival’s message is spread far and wide!

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Suicide Prevention

This Sunday 10th September is World Suicide Prevention Day, which is a day held each year on the 10th of September to raise awareness about suicide and is organised by International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO)

This year's theme is about connecting with others and letting everyone know that #ITSOKAYTOTALK

Why do people commit suicide and what are the warning signs?

Suicide can be a very complex issue. Often people commit, or attempt, suicide because they don't see any other way to deal with what they are experiencing. Potential factors that increase a person's risk of suicide include a history of suicide attempts either personally or in their close family, depression, and/or a negative change in life circumstances such as the loss of a relationship or physical illness/disability, 

People at risk of suicide can:

Lack energy

Appear more tearful

Isolate themselves

Find it hard to cope with everyday things

Use alcohol or drugs to cope with their feelings

Stop taking care of themselves

How can I help someone who is feeling suicidal?

If you know someone who you think may be suicidal, or have told you that they are having suicidal feelings, it should always be taken seriously. It can be distressing to know that someone close to you is at risk of suicide, but you don't need to feel as though you need to be the solutions to their problems. However, you can be someone they can talk to and be open with and you can provide helpful resources. Please see this guide from Samaritans on what steps to take. We also recommend taking a look at The Art of Conversion (a guide to talking, listening and reducing stigma surrounding suicide)  from ChooseLife

What to do if you are feeling suicidal

If you feel you are at risk of suicide, please know there are people out there who want to help you. Remember #ITSOKAYTOTALK

We recommend talking openly with someone you trust and contacting Samaritans or Breathing Space for help. 



Lochaber lads raise over £5,000 in aid of Birchwood Highland

Jamie & Chris at John O' Groats.jpg

Two students from the Highlands have raised over £5,000 in aid of Birchwood Highland through a sponsored cycle from Land’s End to John O’ Groats.

Jamie Begg and Chris Dacre, both 20, and from Glenuig and Acharacle, respectively, set off from Land's End on the 10th of August and began cycling northwards, camping in various locations and staying with friends and family over the period of a fortnight, before reaching John O' Groat's last Wednesday – completing the challenge two days earlier than they had initially expected. 

Covering around 80 miles per day, the trip wasn't without its trials and tribulations!

Jamie and Chris received donations along the way, but the majority of their fundraising took place via their JustGiving page which currently sits at a total of £5,019.57.

Read the full press release here.

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 m.macdonald@birchwoodhighland.org.uk 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: https://alisonwhitephotography.pixieset.com/ascotladiesdayforbirchwoodandmariecurie/


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.