Chief Executive, Emily Stokes
This month has been one of the celebration of achievements and of coming together. There are several key stories to tell, outlined throughout the newsletter, but I’m going to start with the first award we won at the beginning of June when David, Clare, Annabel and I travelled down to Edinburgh to represent Birchwood Highland at the Scottish Social Services Awards. We had been shortlisted for an award which focused on the research we did a few years ago through the Migrants Matter project and the work that we are currently following through from these findings through our new project HiMRA, led by Clare.
Given the long day and the late return to Inverness, we all planned to travel down on the train together. Three of us made the train, with a last- minute phone call from the platform station confirming that Annabel would see us in Aviemore. She had been stuck in traffic and would not make the station in time.
We scanned the platform in Aviemore convinced that Annabel would be there, but no sign of her, we proceeded to do that for the next few stops until we accepted that perhaps Annabel would not make it after all. Meanwhile, unknown to us, by sheer determination, and some nifty driving skills and we later learned, the liberal use of cruise control, Annabel was keeping track of the train, catching us up and at one stage driving alongside of us, she even considered rolling down the window and waving! And whilst this may have caused a huge amount of attention from fellow train passengers, it would no doubt have been lost on us, as David and I were deep in spreadsheet mode at that point, reviewing budget figures and Clare busy reading other stuff. Never quite enough time to find the right parking space, before the train prepared to set off again, Annabel carried on driving..
Sitting down for a cup of tea before we went to the venue a phone call to Annabel to see how she was feeling (gutted we expected) revealed that she would see us in 5 minutes as was just down the road! Annabel certainly made the ceremony, where we won the award in our category and in fact she arrived back home, driving all the way at least an hour before us! Well done Birchwood Highland on our award and a huge well done to Annabel for such steely determination to be there for the Award!
This month has also seen a major push from Head Office during Volunteers week to recruit more volunteers for our charity shop and one unexpected result of this has been an influx of applications for volunteering at the Recovery Centre! We were then awarded our Carers Positive Award during Carers’ week.
Meanwhile elsewhere, the Easter Ross team has been busy moving into its new office and preparing for a community celebration in Natal Gardens in August. Karen and our volunteers at the shop have been busy with all the cruise ships coming in and out of Invergordon. Inverness and Lochaber have been making the most of the good weather, getting outdoors and enjoying nearby green spaces, Caithness hosted a visit from a politician and the Recovery Centre has been preparing for this month’s party in the garden, where we hope as many services as possible will come together.
Let’s hope the sun continues to shine into July. Have a lovely summer everyone.
Updates and developments
Scottish Social Services Awards
We are absolutely thrilled to have been winners at this year's Scottish Social Services Awards with our work, titled: "Migrant Mental Health in the Highlands; peer research translating into strengthening the voice of migrants and refugees in the Highlands."
These awards celebrate the work of Scottish Social Services and the individuals, teams and organisations making a positive difference to people’s lives.
Feedback from the panel was as follows:
This charity has worked with partners to develop research into the mental welfare of EU migrants moving to the Highlands. By creating a peer support hub, it has enabled local migrant communities to better access mental health support, and reduce social isolation.
A well thought out approach to developing an evidence base, heavily influenced by those affected, to inform new service design and improvements in service responses – it shows considerable promise to impact on the lives of vulnerable migrants. —
Carers Positive Award
We marked the end of Carers Week with more celebrations after being recognised as a Carer Positive employer.
Carers Week is a national campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlighting the challenges that carers face and recognising the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK.
The Carer Positive award is presented to employers in Scotland who demonstrate a working environment where carers are valued and supported. This includes providing flexible working policies or simple practical measures which can make a significant difference to carers. In return, employees benefit from supporting working carers in their workplace by retaining experienced employees, reducing staff absences and making huge savings on recruitment costs.
Royal Ascot at the Kingsmills Hotel
Our joint fundraising event with Marie Curie - based around Ladies Day at Royal Ascot - was a huge success, with just just under £12,000 raised so far!
Here are just a selection of some of the fabulous photos from the day - check out the full album on our Facebook page here.
We celebrated Volunteers' Week at the beginning of June and held an open day at the Charity Shop in Invergordon on Friday 8th June. Existing volunteers - as well as potential new volunteers - were invited to stop in and have a slice of cake and cup of tea to discuss the benefits of volunteering.
A big thank you to all of our existing volunteers for all of your hard work - we really couldn't do it without you!
Charity Business Partnership
We are excited to announce that we have started a year long charity business partnership with Norscot Joinery Ltd.
Norscot recently attended the Independent Network Members Weekend at which they chose Birchwood Highland as their nominated charity. Prior to the event Norscot was notified that Birchwood Highland was one of the four charities chosen to be supported on the night, and money raised through a raffle and auction was split 4 ways; kickstarting the partnership with a generous £1,000 donation from the annual event.
Set to make a real difference to the local community by supporting our work to tackle mental health stigma, the year-long partnership will provide opportunities for Norscot’s staff and management team to take part in and organise fundraising events as well as the opportunity to get involved in volunteering initiatives on behalf of the charity.
We are also set to deliver a series of mental wellbeing ‘Toolbox Talks’ to every member of Norscot’s team of over 50 staff. Our Toolbox Talks continue to be hugely popular amongst local business, with Norscot fully committed to delivering greater awareness of mental health issues amongst its own staff.
We look forward to what this year may bring!
Charity Shop Update
We are still recruiting volunteers for the shop. Please get in touch with Head Office, or complete an application form here if you have anyone that would be interested.
Highland Migrant and Refugee Advocacy
The latest from HiMRA
The HiMRA team recently had a successful visit with some of the families to UHI and are now planning a Rosemarkie beach day on the 7th of July. The team also took part in Eid celebrations over the weekend - with over 120 other people!
A few weeks ago, the team were lucky enough to be involved with a fabulous two day event to celebrate Refugee Week. HiMRA helped with some arts and crafts activities for the chidren attending and football games outside. It was a wonderful sunny day and spirits were high.
Why not follow the HiMRA team on Facebook to find out more?
The latest from Birchwood Highland's services
Congratulations to Sean and Mark from all at the Recovery Centre for their great achievement and their participation in the Black Isle Bike Ride on Saturday 19th May!
Members of the Caithness team received a visit from David Stewart MSP, constituency MSP for the Highlands and Islands, on Friday 8th June and David posted the following on his Facebook page:
"Dropped in on the Wick Office of Birchwood Highland this afternoon, looking into the charity’s valuable work with those with mental health issues. The team is definitely doing a very good job with its many clients in a remote and rural area. Thanks to Julie Calder, team manager, (left) and Annabel Mowat, Deputy Chief Executive, for the briefing. Hope to see more of the group’s work in the Highlands."
You can view David's original post here. Thanks for stopping by!
We would like to add our best wishes to Julie and her speedy recovery for her recent injury.
Staff and service users have been extremely busy spring cleaning the polytunnel and building the new shelves, to prepare for another busy year of planting and growing. The Service Users Group have entered in to a gardening competition run by Lochaber Housing Association into the categories for ''best pots'' and ''best vegetable patch''. Good luck!
The team went out for a picnic at Ness Islands earlier this month and nearly came back having recruited a new member of the team!
Mel O'Keeffe showed off her knitting skills this month by kitting David Brookfield a cactus for his office, as the old one, unfortunately did not make it through to the summer. As you can see - he was chuffed to bits with it!
We also celebrated Mel's birthday and said a sad farewell to Jordan Hammond, our Fundraising Assistant, who has been with us for 18 months and we wish him all the best!
Wishing our Easter Ross team the best of wishes and luck in their new office.
Read All About It!
Birchwood Highland in the media
Charity Racing Day is Success
26th June 2018
Firm to Build on Work with Charity
Impressive Show of Support for Mental Health Charities
Fundraising // Activities // Workshops
Party in the Garden
Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival
We are excited that we will be back at Belladrum Festival again for a 3rd year, and we will be selling love locks & cloots which people can write on them with a special message and they will be tied to the heart structure. We will also have Betty Booth along side us this year who will be offering fun photos with props in their campervan, and will be asking for donation for this.
You can find us at outside the Chapel at the festival, from Thursday 2nd August - Saturday 4th August.
If you are going - come along and say hello!
Ben Nevis Challenge
Have you ever wanted to climb Ben Nevis? Now is your chance to join us and raise money!
We will be organising a trip to Ben Nevis in early September, with a provisional date set for Saturday 8th September. If you would like to be part of the team or know of anyone that would be interested, please get in touch with Mairi Macdonald at Head Office.
We have had some good interest so far from Inverness Support team and Head Office members, so why not join us!
Starters and Leavers
A warm welcome to those who've recently joined us:
Ashley Macpherson – Support Worker at Easter Ross Support Service
Laura Laird – Support Worker at Easter Ross Support Service
Adrian Eaton - Relief Support Worker
And a fond farewell to the following:
Behaviour that Challenges Refresher – 3rd July
Adult Support and Protection – 12th July
Further details on all training can be found on the Training Calendar on SharePoint.