Chief Executive, Emily Stokes


Hello and a happy new year to you all!

HBW awards 2017 948.JPG

I hope everyone is back in to the swing of things following the festivities and some pretty awful bugs which quite a few staff caught over the December/early January period.  Many thanks to all team members for the extra help and support provided whilst colleagues were off sick. 

We've got a huge amount happening in the year ahead with some exciting key events coming up over the next couple of months, including the shop opening and office move in Easter Ross, the 10th anniversary of the official opening of the Recovery centre and some key staff achievements to celebrate.  This year's SMHAF (Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival) has been brought forward to May, so we will be planning workshops to prepare art work for this event over the next while.

You may already be aware that we've moved to producing a monthly staff newsletter for 2018 - in the hope that a shorter, more regular newsletter will ensure greater profile for all of our good news stories throughout the year.  So, don't hold back.  If you have anything you'd like to share with the rest of the organisation through this newsletter then please feel free to do so - contributions from all services are welcomed, and we'd particularly love to hear from service users too.

In the meantime, just to let you know and to ask for your help in completing a short survey that we will be e-mailing out to staff as part of our investors in people accreditation.  Further information will be sent out in advance, but we are aiming to run the survey, which should take only 10 minutes, from the 5th February for a few weeks.  The results of the survey will help us assess our position against key criteria and help us look at an action plan prior to our formal assessment, so I would be really grateful for your support with this.  I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their help in completing the stress survey.  The results have been shared with team managers with the view to each team drawing up an action plan looking at any key areas highlighted.

Wishing you all the best for the year ahead and I look forward to lots more exciting developments for Birchwood Highland throughout 2018. 

Best wishes,

Company News

Updates and developments

 Jill Sharp (L), President of Highland Business Women and Emily Stokes (R), Birchwood Highland Chief Executive

Jill Sharp (L), President of Highland Business Women and Emily Stokes (R), Birchwood Highland Chief Executive

Highland Business Women - Charity of the Year 2017

Birchwood Highland was delighted to be chosen as Highland Business Women’s charity of the year throughout 2017; something which has helped increase our profile significantly within the local business community. 

It is with great pleasure that we accepted a donation of £1,000 from Highland Business Women at this month's  event to select a charity for 2018, and all of the monies received will go towards helping people we support throughout the Highland region.  This brings the total raised by Highland Business Women throughout 2017 to £5,000. 

We would like to extend our sincerest thanks to the team at Highland Business Women, and to everyone who helped achieve the £5,000 raised. 

We look forward to continuing to work alongside Highland Business Women in the future and we wish the Elsie Normington Foundation - The Haven Project - all the best as charity of the year in 2018.


 Franci Hutchison (L), Community Development Worker and Tiffany Bottomley (R), Advocacy Worker

Franci Hutchison (L), Community Development Worker and Tiffany Bottomley (R), Advocacy Worker

Aspiring Communities

Birchwood Highland has secured funding from the Scottish Government’s ‘Aspiring Communities’ grant, part funded by the European Social Fund, to deliver a pioneering project to support migrants and refugees in Highland.

Building on the findings from Birchwood Highland’s ‘Migrants Matters’ research in 2016, the Highland Migrant and Refugee Advocacy Alliance Project aims to challenge the stigma around mental health and hopes to support migrants and refugees to have a voice and seek support when they need it, particularly through advocacy and peer support. 

Immigration can have a profound physical and psychological impact on people, affecting mental health and well-being, and this project aims to develop an advocacy training package, as well as establishing community hubs where people can access support and advice.  By establishing a safe space to connect, share knowledge and access information – the project aims to support migrants and refugees from all backgrounds to have a vibrant voice in the Highlands.  

The project team will consist of three members of staff, based at the SHIMCA office in Inverness. 

To find out more about this project, please visit the new Aspiring Communities section of our website. 


Co-op Local Cause - #TheCoopWay

Exciting news! The Easter Ross service has been chosen as a Co-op Local Cause - meaning that every time members shop at the Co-op, 1% of what is spent on selected own-brand products and services goes to the local community fund. All the money raised by members in the area will help fund a project to turn an existing shed that is in disrepair into an activity hub for people we support.

Find our more about our cause and see how much we've raised so far by visiting the Birchwood Highland Co-op Local Cause page here: https://goo.gl/2dR4sm

You can choose which cause you want your own 1% to go to. If you're not already a member then you can find out more about Co-op membership in-store or online at https://goo.gl/wiUGy3.


Charity Shop

(L) Sarah at Head Office working hard to ensure donations are well looked after and (R) The outside of the new charity shop at 70 High Street, Invergordon

Work is well underway at our new charity shop in Invergordon, with internal works progressing nicely since the new year.  Members of the Head Office team have also been working hard to ensure donations are organised and stored safely ahead of the shop's opening in the spring. 

We are still welcoming donations, including: 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.


 Victoria Leslie of Ledingham Chalmers LLP being interviewed by STV News reporter and Birchwood Highland Ambassador, Nicola McAlley.

Victoria Leslie of Ledingham Chalmers LLP being interviewed by STV News reporter and Birchwood Highland Ambassador, Nicola McAlley.

Toolbox Talks for Business

Linda Birnie, Training and Development Manager, has been successfully delivering mental wellness 'toolbox' talks to local businesses; a 30 minute presentation delivered specifically to a workplace, tailor made to accommodate the requirements of the business. Engaging and interactive, toolbox talks are a fantastic way to facilitate an introduction to mental health  in the workplace.  

This week, Linda presented a toolbox talk at Ledingham Chalmers LLP, a firm of solicitors in Inverness.  STV News also popped in to cover the talk - keep an eye out for more information on when to tune in to see these!

60 Second Interview

Quick fire questions

Scott Fraser.jpg

Name:  Scott Fraser

Job Title:  Support Worker

Joined Birchwood Highland:  October 2017

Based at:  Inverness Support Service

Q. What was you previous role? 
A. My previous role was as a support worker with Thera - a company that works mainly with people with autism.

Q. Are you originally from Inverness? 
A. No, I’m originally from Glasgow but have lived and worked all over the UK.  Since leaving HM Forces Army in 1995 I have worked exclusively in the care sector.

Q. If you were stuck in a lift, who would you like to be stuck with?
A. My dog, Lolly (not much conversation but great company!).

Q. What’s your favourite song from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s and 10s?
A. Tough one...

60s - Night time is the right time - The Sonics
70s - Stargazer - Rainbow
80s - Neon Knights - Black Sabbath
90s - Thunderstruck - AC/DC
00s - The Story - Brandi Carlile
10s - Headlong Flight - Rush

Service updates

The latest from Birchwood Highland's services

Christmas in Caithness

Staff and service users in Caithness enjoyed their Christmas lunch a few weeks ago at Wetherspoons in Wick.  So much so, they're looking to get another lunch event organised in the very near future!

Christmas Lunch Club at the Recovery Centre

Head Office donned their finest Christmas jumpers to attend the Recovery Centre's Lunch Club on 20th December.  A special thank you to Nadine for presenting such a wonderful spread and to the residents for making us feel so welcome!

Service Users' Meeting - Inverness


Adverse weather conditions meant that only a small number of service users were able to attend last week's service users' meeting. 

However, the group discussed the selection of a board Chairman, Vice Chairman and Secretary and will look to appoint to these positions at the next service users' meeting, when more people should be able to attend - weather permitting!

The group also discussed places of interest for forthcoming visits, including:

- The beaches at Lossiemouth
- Pool League
- Theatre
- Steam Railway
- Seagull Trust
- Bingo or Quiz Night 

The group expressed a desire to return to Kincraig Wildlife Park - not only because last year's visit was thoroughly enjoyable -  but also because a baby polar bear has been born since then!

If all goes well, visitors should be able to see the polar bear cub from March onward.

Read All About It!

Birchwood Highland in the media


Spirited presentation lands £3,000 charity boost

Inverness Courier



Fundraising  //  Activities  //  Workshops

Copy of Dinner (3).png

Dinner with the Stars

Now in its third year, Dinner with the Stars returns and we’re delighted to announce comedian and broadcaster Hardeep Singh Kohli as our guest chef – but don’t worry, he cooks too!

This year’s event will take place in the rustic surroundings of Bogbain Farm, Inverness, on Friday 20th April.  Kicking off at 6.30pm, the evening will include a welcome drink on arrival, a 3 course meal prepared by our guest chef and a selection of local chefs, as well as a Q&A session with Hardeep.  We'll finish up in true Highland style with a ceilidh dance hosted by Bruce MacGregor and friends!

Tickets will be available for sale from Thursday 1st February, and will be priced at £60pp.  However, we’re pleased to offer Birchwood Highland staff tickets at a reduced rate of just £50pp.  To purchase tickets at staff rate, please contact Head Office directly. 


Employee bulletin

Year of Young People

2018 is the Scottish Government’s Year of Young People – an opportunity to celebrate the amazing young personalities, talents, and achievers that make up Scotland. 


Did you know that in the last three years, the number of under-26s employed by Birchwood Highland has increased from 3% to 16%?
Keep an eye out throughout the year for events and activities aimed at young people.  Meanwhile, if you started working for Birchwood Highland before you were aged 26, why not lend your voice to the Young People’s Forum?  Contact Head Office for more information.


Staff Achievements

Congratulations to the following staff for their recent achievements:

- Audrey Irvine and Mark Skillin at the Recovery Centre for their promotions to Team Leader posts

- Jennifer Scott in Easter Ross promoted to Acting Team Leader

- Wendy Wemyss and Lorraine Hunter who have been promoted to senior support workers in ISS and Sanda Kodimah at the Recovery Centre

Huge congratulations also to the following staff who achieved their SVQ 3's at the end of last year:

- David McKerrow and Donna Blake in ISS


Finally, a warm welcome to Harris and huge congratulations to his mum, Llana Carrison in Easter Ross.

Starters and Leavers

A warm welcome to:

Tiffany Bottomley – Advocacy Worker at Aspiring Communities

Franci Hutchison – Community Development Worker at Aspiring Communities

Heather Smith – Staff Nurse at the Recovery Centre

Wendy McHale – Support Worker at the Recovery Centre

William MacDonald – Support Worker at Easter Ross Support Service

Graeme Sutherland – Relief Support Worker at Easter Ross Support Service

Ricky Gallagher – Relief Support Worker at the Recovery Centre


A fond farewell to: 

Caitlin Prentice – Recovery Centre

Lilian Junor – Easter Ross Support Service

Sheila Low – Easter Ross Support Service

Joseph Kindlen – Lochaber Support Service




Adult Support and Protection – 25th January in Inverness

Adult Support and Protection – 30th January in North Kessock

Laughter Yoga – 31st January in Inverness



WRAP – 6th and 13th February in Inverness

Adult Support and Protection – 9th February in Inverness

Psychoactive Substances Training – 12th February in Inverness

Adult Support and Protection – 14th February in Inverness

Moving and Handling – 15th February in Inverness

Moving and Handling – 16th February in Inverness

Understanding Autism – 21st February in Inverness

Moving and Handling – 22nd February in Invergordon

Adult Support and Protection – 26th February in Fort William

Behaviour that Challenges Refresher – 27th February in Inverness



Mental Health First Aid (NHS) – 1st and 8th March in Inverness

Behaviour that Challenges – 6th March in Inverness

WRAP – 6th and 13th March in Invergordon

SafeTalk (NHS) – 12th March in Inverness

Basic Alcohol and Drugs Awareness – 12th March in Inverness

Understanding Autism – 21st March in Inverness

Health and Safety – 30th March in Inverness


Further details on all training can be found on the Training Calendar on SharePoint.