Chief Executive, Emily Stokes
Hello everyone, I hope this month finds you well and that you're gearing up for some warmer weather!
Speaking of weather, a massive thanks and well done is due to all staff who ensured that they conquered the recent extreme weather and got into work. I know that there were a number of significant challenges over different days for staff working in and out of our Easter Ross and Caithness offices in particular, who battled with inches of snow that the beast from the east or the pest from the west decided to land in their areas, with some extreme efforts having to be made to get in and out of work.
I’m also aware of the help that was offered by others, coming to people’s rescue to ensure they made it into work, so that there was enough cover and support for service users. I won’t name anyone in particular to ensure that I don’t miss anyone out who I haven’t been told about, for example people working in other areas. What I will say is, that I am certainly aware of some impressive cases and circumstances and am extremely grateful for all the efforts made. You all know who you are and you all made an amazing effort. Thank you and well done.
Well, apart from the weather, we knew that March was going to be an extremely busy month but I'm not sure anybody was quite prepared for everything we've managed to achieve since the last newsletter!
As most of you will already be aware, the Recovery Centre celebrated its 10th anniversary this month, and we marked the occasion in true birthday party style - with tea and cake, planting 10 apple trees and opening up the Recovery Centre to a number of our stakeholder colleagues, who were really impressed with the Centre and the work that we do. Thank you so much to everyone who helped make the afternoon such a special one, and to all staff and volunteers who've contributed towards the success of the Recovery Centre since its official modernisation and naming in 2008.
As well as the birthday party, we launched our first ever charity single to celebrate the Recovery Centre's anniversary, and it's fantastic to hear how much those who took part in the Music is Life project enjoyed the whole experience. Perhaps we could look at an album next time...?!
Things are progressing well with works on the new charity shop and Easter Ross office in Invergordon, and we plan to set up the shop in the first week of April, opening the shop by Friday 6th in time for the cruise ships and during the Easter holidays. The office will also be ready, hopefully in the next month as all the works have to be signed off for that by Building Control. We are still looking for volunteers for the shop so if you know of anyone who would like to help out, please feel free to put them in touch with Naomi Lee at Head Office or Karen Mackay at the shop from the 6th April.
Finally, a huge thank you to all staff, service users and volunteers who helped contribute towards our success at last week's Highland Business Women Awards. To achieve 'Best Third Sector' for the third year running is outstanding and I'm so grateful for all of your hard work over the past year.
Have a lovely Easter everyone.
Updates and developments
Highland Business Women Awards 2018
We're thrilled to say that we received the award for 'Best Third Sector Organisation' for the third year running at this month's Highland Business Women Awards!
The award, this year sponsored by law firm Ledingham Chalmers LLP, recognises effective engagement with service users as well as sound planning, future sustainability and effective leadership of the organisation. Emily Stokes, Chief Executive of Birchwood Highland, commented: “Receiving this award for the third year in a row is an incredible achievement and is due to the contribution and hard efforts of everyone working and volunteering with Birchwood Highland."
Charity Single Launch with Music is Life Scotland
A handful of people have been working over the last few months to produce a charity single through the Music is Life Scotland project.
The single titled “The Long Winding Road (Through the Seasons)” was put together by concepts suggested by residents at the Recovery Centre, including the idea of writing about how the changing seasons made them feel. The artwork for the single is also an original piece produced by residents. Steve Robertson – a Birchwood Highland Ambassador – said:
“It was an amazing experience to meet on a regular basis and to see the single come together. The residents from the Recovery Centre had some fantastic ideas and it was great to help pull everything together.”
The single was written by Inverness singer/songwriter Steven Barclay and produced and arranged by Iain McLaughlin at IMOUT Studios in Inverness. Released on Friday 16th March, the single is available via iTunes, Amazon and Spotify, and all proceeds will go towards helping support Birchwood Highland’s vital work.
Celebrating 10 Years of the Recovery Centre
We celebrated 10 years since the official re-opening of the Recovery Centre this month and a big thank you to all who joined us for afternoon tea to mark the occasion!
Drew Hendry - MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey - raised an early day motion in parliament to recognise the milestone. Read the motion here.
BBC Alba covered the event for their 'An Là' news programme and you can watch their report here.
We made a viceo to capture 10 years of the Recovery Centre and showed it at the birthday party. Watch the video below:
We also made a video of the party itself! Check it out here:
Year of Young People
If you're aged 16-25, or if you started working for Birchwood Highland whilst you were in this age bracket, we'd love to hear from you at the next Young People's Forum on Tuesday the 24th of April between 11am - 2pm at Head Office.
For more information on the Young People's Forum, please contact Head Office.
Ben Nevis Challenge - August 2018
Did you know that it's nearly 4 years since the Ben Nevis Challenge?! We're keen to do it again in 2018, and exploring potential dates at the moment. If you think it's something you might be interested in, please contact Màiri at Head Office.
Highland Migrant and Refugee Advocacy
The latest from HiMRA
Following a couple of months of shaping the new project and networking with important partners and local service providers, the team at Ardconnel Terrace have organised for peer support drop-in sessions to begin in Inverness, Dingwall and Alness by the end of March. These drop-ins will be a safe space for those who identify as migrants or refugees in the Highlands to find friendships, support, be signposted to relevant local service providers and to feel connected in their communities. The project promotes social inclusion and positive mental health where peer support groups are hoped to prevent social isolation.
The HiMRA team have received positive coverage in the media to date and hope to continue to raise awareness through partnership working, attending local events, reaching out to existing groups and promoting both the use of the service and opportunities for volunteering. The volunteer training package has been completed and in the coming weeks this will be rolled out to those who have expressed interest in becoming part of the HiMRA team.
Following a number of weeks running these 3 drop-in sessions, which will each run for 2 hours weekly, the HiMRA team will focus their time and attention on establishing drop-ins in Lochaber and Wick.
We would like to thank the Birchwood team for their continued support and would encourage anyone who has knowledge or experience of working with migrants and refugees in their local area to share insights. This will inform our work and help best support migrants and refugees living in the Highlands.
60 Second Interview
Quick fire questions
Name: Karen Mackay
Job Title: Charity Shop Manager
Joined Birchwood Highland: Feburary 2018
Based at: 70 High Street, Invergordon
Q. What was your previous role?
A. I've worked in support for over 10 years but most recently I was working at the Post Office in Invergordon. I also have previous retail experience, having been the manager at Farmfoods in Invergordon.
Q. Are you originally from the Highlands?
A. No, I'm originally from Glasgow although I moved here 42 years ago - I think I'm classed as a local now!
Q. If you were stuck in a lift, who would you like to be stuck with?
A. A lift engineer! I wouldn't like to be the other person who is stuck with me because I'm really claustrophobic.
Q. What’s your favourite song from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s and 10s?
60s - Hey Jude - The Beatles
70s - Sailing - Rod Stewart
80s - I Don't Like Mondays - The Boomtown Rats
90s - Don't Look Back in Anger - Oasis
00s - Get the Party Started - Pink
10s - Dancing On My Own - Callum Scott
The latest from Birchwood Highland's services
Residents at the Recovery Centre have been enjoying the latest round of nature walks, despite the chilly weather! Photos above are from the duck pond at Craig Dunain and from the Caledonian Canal.
Warm wishes to James in Easter Ross who turned 65 this month and celebrated with a cake and some well deserved presents! Happy Birthday, James, we hope you have a great year.
Linda Birnie, Training and Development Manager, has been busy delivering Toolbox Talks across the Highlands as well as some additional training for DWP in Inverness and Invergordon.
Top: The Morrison Construction site team at Ardross engaging in their Toolbox Talk session.
Below: A team of solicitors from Innes & Mackay at a more in-depth 2 hour 'Introduction to Mental Health' Toolbox Talk.
Read All About It!
Birchwood Highland in the media
Mental health charity marks decade of work
Press & Journal
New project to prevent loneliness in migrants
Dinner with the Stars
Press & Journal
Fundraising // Activities // Workshops
Dinner with the Stars 2018
Spice Masterclass with Hardeep Singh Kohli
Stir your senses at this spice masterclass at the Royal Highland Hotel.
In conversation with spice maestro Hardeep Singh Kohli, you can touch, taste and smell your way through the principles of cooking with Indian herbs and spices, and delve into new depths of flavour.
Tickets £25pp and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.
Private Dining Experience with Hardeep Singh Kohli
Get up close and personal with Hardeep Singh Kohli (and just 15 other foodies!) at this intimate dining experience. Includes 7 course menu with wine, at a top-secret location in a Highland home.
Tickets £135pp, including return transport from Inverness city centre.
The Government has agreed a six-month extension of the workplace childcare voucher system so the scheme will NOT be closing in April as expected. Following a Commons debate, Damian Hinds, the Education Secretary, said: “I have heard the concerns raised about this, and about the timing, and I can confirm we will be able to keep the voucher scheme open for a further six months to new entrants following representations that she (referring to DUP MP Emma Pengelly) has made.”
Since it was announced that the childcare voucher scheme would be closing, there has been much debate over the merits of the scheme in comparison to the replacement scheme, Tax Free Childcare. Many working parents, particularly those with school age children, and those who do not satisfy the Government’s criteria over working hours and earnings for Tax Free Childcare, have argued that childcare vouchers are a far more beneficial and flexible option to help with childcare costs. We therefore see the delay to the scheme closure as a positive development, and one that will keep options open for parents who pay for childcare in the coming months.
To review all options regarding Government help with childcare costs please visit: https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/
Staff are reminded to familiarise themselves with the most recent policies approved by the Board:
- Mobile Phone Policy
- Data Protection
- Duty of Candour
The new policy list has also been reviewed and you can view it here.
Starters and Leavers
A warm welcome to those who've recently joined us:
Ben Miller, Support Worker – CSS
Helen Heath, Relief Support Worker – BHRC
Owen Hope, Relief Support Worker – BHRC
Karen Mackay – Shop Manager
Chloe George, Support Worker – ERSS
And a fond farewell to the following:
Everyday Challenges (Highland Autism Support) – 4th April
Basic Alcohol and Drugs Awareness Training – 19th April
Understanding Autism – 24th April
Social Stories (Highland Autism Support) – 25th April
Further details on all training can be found on the Training Calendar on SharePoint.