Chief Executive's Welcome
Wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas and all the very best of wishes for 2016. It has been a fabulous and extremely busy year and I am so grateful for the ongoing commitment, hard work and dedication that I see day in day out across Birchwood Highland services. Thank you and well done to you all.
I officially passed my 10 year mark with Birchwood Highland at the end of November and I can hardly believe how fast it has gone. This year in particular has whizzed by, some of it already a blur (thank goodness for annual reports, we will get to relive the highlights later on!) but what stands out for me has been our increased profile across the Highlands and nationally when we were in the finals for the Scottish Charity of the year awards, our growing impact in our anti-stigma work and the way services have pulled together to support each other in terms of training, shared learning and in our fundraising events. We have contributed and achieved so much more than we had envisaged at the start of the year and that's down to imagination, commitment, hard work and our belief in positive risk taking in all areas of our services.
Moving ahead to 2016, we have an action packed year planned already. May in particular, is going to be a fun filled month, with fundraisers, conferences and mental health awareness week. A schedule of some key dates are outlined in the newsletter with others to follow as they are firmed up.
We have welcomed a number of new staff and volunteers to Birchwood Highland this year, along with a number of the next generation as it was Inverness's turn this year for the Birchwood babies. Congratulations to all and to two of our staff members at the Recovery Centre, Jenny and Steve who got married.
Wishing everyone throughout the Company the very best of wishes for 2016. I look forward to next year's journey and to building further on the excellent care and support services that we are recognised as providing.
Thank you once again for all your efforts during 2015.
Birchwood Highland Chief Executive
John Muir Award
A green fingered team of five Birchwood Highland service users have picked up a John Muir Award for their participation in a training project with Dunain Community Woodland! The trainee conservationists received the award on Tuesday 15th December from Councillor Alex Graham during a ceremony at the Anam Cara retreat centre in Inverness.
The award acknowledges the team’s efforts as part of the Growing Ahead project, which was funded by the Forestry Commission and supported by Earth for Life, who provided instruction and leadership.
The project’s aim was to support recovery through engagement with the great outdoors. During the project, participants learned useful conservation skills such as seed collection, woodland maintenance, including developing pathways, tree felling, building shelters and keeping safe.
Congratulations to the team!
Saltire Award for Brandon
Another award, this time for A2B service user, Brandon, who has completed a fantastic 321 hours of volunteering. At the time of volunteering Brandon had received his 10,25,50,100 & 200 hours for his Sailtre Awards at the Cantraebridge Café from Gail Duff at Sign post. Brandon has also been put forward for a special SUMMIT recognition award for almost reaching 500 hours.
If you'd like more information about volunteering, we have a section of our website about this here.
Yet Another Award!
Deborah Wilson, an administrator at Head Office, recently won the Social Enterprise category of Inverness College UHI’s annual business ideas competition. The competition is open to all UHI students and everyone living in the Highlands and Islands, Moray or Perthshire aged 16 or over. Deborah is a community link student at Inverness College and attending college inspired Deborah’s idea to launch, ‘B U & Do’, a social enterprise project which aims to prevent isolation in the Highland and Islands communities. The idea would make it possible for people from outlying areas to meet, make new friends , learn new skills and develop hobbies in a creative environment.
Deborah said: ‘While in recovery from a long-term illness I benefited greatly from attending classes and courses in the community. A number of people I spoke to about this said they would like to do something similar but their remote location and the need to travel created a barrier. Social isolation is a huge concern for modern society. My goal is to develop a service which tackles this issue.’
Major funding secured for Recovery Centre
When a recent fire risk assessment at the Recovery Centre highlighted the need to remove the soft furnishings from the foyer area, it was a blow. Many of the centre's residents enjoy using the foyer as an additional social space - somewhere to chat, lounge and watch the world go by. So plans were hatched for a new communal room - a sun lounge/conservatory which would be a bright, airy space for everyone to use.
The sun lounge /conservatory will cost £45,000 to build. That's a significant investment in the Recovery Centre and no mean feat in terms of fundraising. Emily applied to the Highland Cross for assistance and, along with new Fundraising Manager Pauline, attended an interview with the Highland Cross panel on the 7th December. With just 20 minutes to make a pitch in a 'Dragon's Den' style set-up - and up against five other charities on the day - the pair were delighted to hear Birchwood Highland has been chosen as one of the beneficiary charities for the 2016 event on June 18th.
The Highland Cross is a charity duathlon which sees teams take on the Highlands on foot and on bike, with each raising from £500 to £23,000 in the process. Money raised is then gifted to fund medical, health and care causes in the north of Scotland. Building work will start on the sun lounge/conservatory as soon as the planning application is approved.
Part of the Highland Cross deal is that Birchwood Highland provides 20 volunteers to help on the race day (June 18th 2016) - that's where you come in! We don't know what our task will be yet but this is a great event to be involved with and given the scale of Highland Cross's investment we want to show how appreciative we are. Email email@example.com to register your interest in volunteering. To view the Highland Cross presentation, click here.
Caring and Sharing £1000 Christmas Windfall
Birchwood Highland's Easter Ross service has received a special Christmas windfall of £1000, thanks to the generosity of the Highland’s Caring and Sharing charity shops. Set up by Izzie MacDonald and run by volunteers, the Caring and Sharing shops in Inverness and Invergordon have been supporting local causes by selling a range of goods, including clothing, books, music, furniture and antiques, for almost six years. This generous Caring and Sharing donation will go towards the service user fund, making all sorts of fun days out and activities possible.
“We’re absolutely delighted to be able to support such a worthwhile cause. It gives us great pleasure to be able to make a difference to service users’ lives by enabling them to take part in activities they might not have otherwise had the opportunity to do. We’d like to wish everyone at Birchwood Highland a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.” - Izzie MacDonald (pictured above with Team Manager, Lynn Keith).
A word from our new Fundraising Manager/60 Second Interview
Hi everyone, I’m the new Fundraising Manager here at Birchwood Highland and we have lots of plans for major event in the year ahead. Many of the biggies are still under wraps, I’m afraid, but I’ve been talking to some great businesses and individuals around the Highlands who have all pledged their support which is very exciting. More to follow as things are firmed up! A crack team I like to call my ‘foxy fundraisers’ – Deborah, Sarah, Naomi and Lauren at head office – are all working on complementary ideas to tie in schools, golf clubs, dog lovers and bingo fanciers, so watch this space for updates. I’ve really enjoyed meeting the Birchwood Highland family – so far that’s the guys at head office, the staff and residents at the Recovery Centre and the Easter Ross team and service users and I’m looking forward to hooking up with everyone in Lochaber, Telford Road, Glendoe Terrace and Burns Road in due course. You’ll get used to me, my questions and my camera! Right now I’m working on a series of films on the subject of how different people in the community keep their minds healthy. If you would like to be the subject of a short film (anonymity can be assured if you prefer), contact me at pauline.burnett@birchwood highland.org.uk
Q. What did you do before you started working for Birchwood Highland?
“I edited a newspaper supplement called Highland Life which means I know lots of businesses and individuals across the Highlands. Some of them even like me, so I’ll be calling in lots of favours to get support for Birchwood Highland.”
Q. Who would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?
“Johnny Depp. I interviewed him in London around the time of Edward Scissorhands and wasn’t that fussed about meeting him, but when he walked in I saw stars and birds tweeted… the works.”
Q. What made you want to work for Birchwood Highland?
“I didn’t know anything about Birchwood Highland until Emily approached me to host the Fashion Show this year. When I found out what a vital role the charity plays I was intrigued as I have first-hand experience of mental health issues through friends. I also felt I would be able to bring the press spotlight onto what everyone in the organisation does. I’m still getting my feet under the table but I have big plans…”
Q. Is there a book you've read that changed your life?
“I like reading plays – anything 20th Century, really – Brecht, Chekov, Miller. My favourite has to be John Byrne’s work (The Slab Boys, Cuttin’ A Rug, Tutti Frutti). Paisley-born, Byrne just gets it as far as dialogue is concerned. As a teenager in Glasgow I went to every play of his at the Citizen’s Theatre and last year I got to interview him. He’s entertaining, intense and fabulous.”
Q. Who inspires you?
“I know he’s a kind of Marmite person, you either love him or hate him, but Chris Evans is a media genius. He’s talented and never rests on his laurels, plus he’s great fun, people love him and he can ask for anything.”
Q. What's your most bizarre talent?
“I can lamb a sheep. We have 46 sheep on our croft and I look amazing in yellow waterproofs, let me tell you.”
Q. What's your favourite sound/noise?
“My youngest son, Gaelan, singing. He’s nine and the innocence in his voice is gorgeous.” (Pictured right)
Q. What's your least favourite word?
Q. If you were a biscuit, what kind would you be?
“A Jammy Dodger!”
Fundraising Manager, Birchwood Highland
New event! Mad May Mile
This month will see the launch of Birchwood Highland’s Mad May Mile. The event itself will run on May 15th, departing from Eden Court and going around Whin Park, with the idea of being dressed in the craziest style possible, or completing the mile in the daftest way you can think of (backwards, tied to your boss, on stilts, whatever).
The new event will be launched over the Christmas/New Year period to garner us as much coverage in the Inverness Courier as possible. To register your interest in taking part in the event and get a sponsorship form, contact Pauline at pauline.burnett@birchwood highland.org.uk
Talk about your role in Birchwood Highland
Would you like to be part of a Scotland-wide project to help more people understand the complex, rewarding work you do and the difference it makes to our communities? The Social Services Care Network is launching a national social media campaign running from December to February aimed at helping to raise awareness through conversations and storytelling of what social service workers do and the difference they make to people's lives and to our communities.Working in social services is not always about difficult stuff. There are plenty of good things happening. More people need to hear those stories. And as someone who does this work every day, you can help by sharing your experiences. If you would like to be part of this project contact Pauline at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will do a quick interview with you.
Annabel’s Big Birthday Surprise
Annabel Mowat knew she was having a birthday. She knew it was a ‘big’ one. What she didn’t know was that Emily had arranged a surprise bash for her at head office. So, under the pretext of the joys of a meeting to discuss payroll, Annabel was invited to come down, ooh, about lunchtime on the big day itself. However, Annabel tried to resist. How could she get out of it? Could this meeting be on another day? “Nope!”, she was told. “Harumph,” thought Annabel. The party planners sighed with relief. It was then up to Annabel’s daughter (Business Support Officer, Fiona MacKenzie), who was also in on the surprise, to drive Annabel to the ‘meeting’, resisting all calls to stop for a sandwich on the way! But the surprise was kept intact and Annabel’s delight was clear to see. A table heaving with nibbles and a gorgeous cake from Harry Gow made for a lovely lunch. Much better than that meeting about payroll!
Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival Exhibition
Enjoy these images of service user artwork on display as part of 2015's Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival sent in by Paulina Duncan.
Migrants Matter Symposium
We're excited to announce that Birchwood Highland is organising a Symposium to discuss issues around mental health of EU migrant communities in the Highlands. The event will focus especially on the role of stigma and self-stigma in preventing Highland migrants from seeking help when experiencing mental health issues. It will also try to find solutions to help overcome the existing barriers to accessing mental health services by EU migrants. This Symposium is part of our year-long project called ‘Migrant Matters’, which is funded by ‘see me’ Scotland. One of the project partners is the University of the Highlands and Islands, who are providing academic support in the peer research project, which is also currently underway.
The research findings will be presented at the Symposium alongside other academic papers on the subject of migration and mental health and we are hoping that some renowned figures from the academic world will be present at the event, including a recognised specialist in the field from Canada. The speakers will also include mental health professionals, local and national politicians, decision-makers as well as Highland migrants themselves. The Symposium is planned to take place on 26th May 2016 at the Jurys Inn Hotel (formerly the Thistle Hotel). If you would like to discuss any aspects of the event, please contact Paulina Duncan at email@example.com
Climbing the Walls with A2B
The A2B drop in moved on to offering a wider range of activities. Young people asked for the drop in to be more activity based and in response to this a session was booked at the Go Outdoors climbing wall in Inverness.
Go Outdoors are keen to support local community initiatives and made the group very welcome with refreshments provided, as well as the necessary equipment, instruction and encouragement.
Everyone enjoyed the activity and this is being repeated on Thursday 17th December by popular demand!
Community Services Manager
Food & Health
Jenny Cargill at the Recovery Centre recently held a Food and Health course at Inshes Church. This course was open to all staff and service users. The course was very informative and Jenny did a great job at making it fun and interesting with activities throughout the day. Everyone who attended came away with lots more knowledge and everyone passed their exam at the end of the day! Jenny will be running another Food and Health course on the 22nd February. Again this course is open to all services and feedback from those who attended the course last week was that it was very enjoyable and very informative. The Food and Health course looks at the relationship between food and health. It looks at barriers individuals may face in relation to health and considers what is meant by a balanced diet. The course looks at carbohydrates, protein, fats along with vitamins and minerals. Participants on the course will look at energy balance, and the role food has in relation to health conditions. The course will consist of group activities, some personal reflection and a mini multiple choice test at the end of the day. Upon successful completion of the course and the multiple choice test, participants will receive a certificate in Food and Health from REHIS (Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland) and a handbook. If anyone would like to be attend this course, please contact Head Office.
Getting into the Christmas Spirit
The breakfast club took on a festive feel this week, the tree was up, Christmas music channel on and several residents and staff had the pleasure of having hot chocolate marshmallows and cream along with chocolate chip and apple and cinnamon muffins.
We managed to tell some really terrible Christmas jokes even though we didn’t have crackers. We all ate too much but thoroughly enjoyed a little taste of Christmas to get us all in the mood for the 25th December.
Birchwood Highland Recovery Centre
Here's the Christmas stall this year (left) where Sarah, Naomi and Deborah from Head Office had a day raising awareness and funds for Birchwood Highland at Charleston Academy's Christmas Fair on the 4th of December and below are photos from the Recovery Centre's very festive Christmas party.
A very warm congratulations to Andrew Greig who has a new baby girl! Here he is running for Birchwood Highland is his very professional running gear.
And speaking of babies, here's an update about the Childcare Voucher Scheme. You can choose to take vouchers in lieu of part of your salary under a Salary Exchange Scheme. These are exchanged for a part of your gross salary (i.e. before tax) and they are exempt from both tax and National Insurance contributions. Childcare vouchers can be used to pay for all types of registered childcare including childminders, nurseries, nannies, au pairs, creches and playgroups. Contact Head Office if you'd like more information.
Also, congratulations to Jenny and Steve Cargill who got married in the Autumn. Both work at the Recovery Centre - Jenny as Cooking Support worker and Steve as Relief Staff Nurse. Here's Jenny and Steve running in the Inverness 5K raising funds for Birchwood Highland earlier this year!
Inverness Museum & Art Gallery Project - Transitions Reflections
Pending successful funding, this exciting project will give members of HUG and Birchwood Highland service users the opportunity to work on and display an exhibition of artwork in the Community Gallery for a 6 week period in summer 2016 to coincide with 'Celts - Reflections on Tour in the main gallery, and will also be shown at other venues including Birchwood Highland, New Craigs and through the Highland Council Equalities Officer as part of the Scottish Mental Health Film Festival and will include talks and dramatic works inspired by the artwork. Workshops will be commencing in the New Year on Wednesday 24 February and each Wednesday until Wednesday 16 March, in the afternoons for 1.5 hours and two whole day workshops creating poetry and art responses to the objects (with lunchbreaks and teabreaks) on Wednesday 23 March and Wednesday 30 March.
Christmas in Poland
In Poland the Christmas period starts at the beginning of Advent. It's a time when people try to be peaceful and remember the real reason for Christmas. People try to avoid excess, with some giving up their favourite foods or drinks. Parties and discos are not the done thing. Some people also go to Church quite frequently. There is a tradition of special services called 'Roraty', which are held at dawn and dedicated to Mary and the good news she received from the Angel Gabriel.
During Advent people also prepare their houses for Christmas. A lot of cleaning goes on, with people cleaning their windows and washing their carpets very thoroughly. Everything must be clean for Christmas Day! Before Christmas, children in schools and preschools take part in Nativity Plays. These are very popular and often more secular than religious - the nativity story is also sometimes set in modern times.
Christmas Eve is considered the most important day over Christmas - even though it's not a public holiday, however Christmas Day and Boxing Day are. Christmas Eve is known as Wigilia (pronounced vee-GHEE-lee-uh). The house must be clean and everyone gets washed and puts on their festive clothes. The main Christmas meal is eaten in the evening on Christmas Eve. Traditionally no food is eaten until the first star can be seen in the sky and children look at the night sky to spot the first star and urge the family to begin the supper. Like in many Catholic countries, Christmas Eve is often a fasting day, which means that some people don't eat anything until after the sunset (when the Church day officially ends). This is also where the custom of the first star comes from.
Traditionally the supper should consist of 12 dishes – the number is meant to ensure good luck for the next 12 months. For Catholics the 12 dishes symbolise Jesus's 12 disciples. The meal is traditionally meat-free - this is to remember the animals who took care of baby Jesus in the manger. Some people in central Poland say that at midnight animals can talk and some farmers go to the byre at midnight to see if their cows and pigs have something special to tell them or whether they will get a telling off! There are many other customs attached to the evening meal. For instance, everyone has to eat - or at least try - each of the 12 dishes. One of the most important dishes is "red borscht" (beetroot soup) and it's almost mandatory to have it. If you really hate it, you can eat mushroom soup instead. Borscht can be eaten with "uszka" (little dumplings with wild mushroom filling). Carp is traditionally the main dish. The fish itself is often bought a few days earlier, preferably alive and it swims in the bath until it's killed by the bravest person in the family. The carp scales are said to bring luck and fortune and are kept by some for the whole year in their purse.
"Bigos" is another traditional dish served on Christmas Eve. It's made of sauerkraut, wild mushrooms, and sometimes prunes. It is cooked about a week or so before Christmas Eve, as it gets tastier with time. On Christmas day sausage and other meat can be added to it, because you are no longer required to fast Pickled herring is commonly served for starter and can be prepared in many different ways, with chopped onions, grated apple or sour cream sauce. Each household has their own recipe which they are proud of and which is passed from generation to generation.
The most popular desserts on Christmas Eve is a poppy seed roll made of sweet yeast bread and "kutia", which is a mix of dried fruits and nuts with cooked wheat grains and poppy seeds. Poppy seeds traditionally symbolise abundance and are thought to bring good fortune in the coming year hence many Christmas desserts are made of them. Another popular dessert is "piernik", which is a moist cake made with honey and spices and gingerbread biscuits, which are usually dry and very hard and only the most skilled bakers know how to make it actually edible.At the beginning of the meal a large wafer is passed around the table and everyone breaks a piece off it, exchanging Christmas wishes. Sometimes a small piece may be given to any farm animals or pets that the family may have. This symbolises the Christian duty of sharing food and earthly goods with others. Also a place is often left empty at the meal table for an unexpected guest.
Polish people believe that no one should be alone or hungry on that night, therefore if someone unexpectedly knocks on the door they are to be welcomed. In some houses, the empty place is to commemorate a dead relative or to remember a family member who couldn't come to the meal. Sometimes a bit of hay is scattered on the floor of the room or under the table cloth as a reminder that Jesus was born in a manger.For children (and maybe not only them) the toughest thing about the Christmas Eve supper is that you can't open the presents before the end of it. In some families, before the presents are opened, the family sings carols together. Sometimes more carols are sung just to tease the children who can’t wait to find out what presents they have. Presents are brought by St Nicholas/Santa Claus. On occasion Santa can bring a birch stick to very naughty children so children try to make sure they behave well before Christmas.
Traditionally the Christmas tree is also often brought in and decorated on Christmas Eve. It is decorated with a star on the top to represent the Star of Bethlehem, gingerbreads, lights (previously candles), baubles and glass ornaments in different shapes. These are usually hand-made, painted or decorated in different ways. In the east of Poland the decorations are traditionally made of straw and are very beautiful. In some houses there is also a custom of breaking one of the Christmas Tree decorations (e.g. breaking a glass bauble) to scare evil out of the house for the whole year. Christmas Eve is finished by going to Church for a Midnight Mass service.
Healthy Working Lives
Just a reminder to all Healthy Working Lives reps that the end of year assessment is due on the 14thJanuary and if you could please send your reports developed from the Action Plan, following on from the Stress Questionnaire Survey to myself or Paulina.
If you have any remaining evidence also, for example photographs, newsletters, reports, etc. or any other activities that have taken place over the year, please also send these by email close of play 1st January. We would also like to thank the Healthy Working Lives reps for their hard work during the year to ensure that our working lives are happy and healthy. For more information on HWL, please contact Sarah Smith at Head Office firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictured right - staff at Head Office head out for a lunchtime walk to get some food from Nourish Inverness.
Health & Safety Snippets
Health & Safety issues have featured highly over the past year, with a number of changes and also lessons that we have been able to learn through taking learning from elsewhere or as a result of incidents that have happened across our services. Health & Safety is the responsibility of everyone, not just health & safety leads, so we thought it would be helpful to share a few headlines from this year.
Driving at Work Policy
All staff and volunteers will have been issued with a letter requesting information and details where staff declare that they drive to work or may use their car in the course of their work. This additional request is due to Health & Safety Executive guidance and a rise in expectations on employers following the Glasgow Bin lorry tragedy last December. Please do get these forms in as soon as you are able and review your insurance policies to ensure that you are covered to drive whilst at work.
Hepatitis B Vaccinations
All staff are reminded to take universal precautions at all times to reduce the risk of any type of infection. With regards to Hep B vaccinations, we have reviewed our policy in relation to this and are able to reimburse staff for the cost charged by your GP for this vaccination. Please obtain a receipt and use this to claim your reimbursement or ask your practice to invoice us directly if they will.
BHRC Fire Audit
Congratulations to all at BHRC for the best ever fire audit. The expectations rise each year in terms of fire safety as they rightly should. Birchwood Highland also invest heavily in protecting all our services against the risk of fire and a more costly, but more comprehensive fire risk assessment was carried out at BHRC this year identifying further actions that we could put in place before our audit by the Fire Brigade.
Other Health & Safety topics that have featured highly on the agenda during 2015 include:
Lone Working - it is essential for all staff lone working to work to our Staff Working Alone policy at all times.
Risk Assessments - we are also reviewing risk assessments again in terms of developing a protocol on positive risk taking and what risk assessment means in an attempt to support staff further on this. The Recovery Centre are leading on this work and will also develop some training which will be rolled out amongst all staff groups.
Staff Induction - we are currently reviewing our staff induction again to try and make these as comprehensive for new starters as possible. We are taking into account feedback from new starters, but welcome any further views from staff.
First Aid Training - at the moment, we offer standard training across all services, however, in some services, there may be specific areas that require an additional focus as they may be a major risk in that area. We are asking all services to consider this and highlight what you feel the major risks to the service user group in your service are, so that some time can also be devoted to focusing in on these.
Training, Policies and HR Updates
21st & 22nd December – Medications training 10 am – 1 pm at Inshes Church
7th January 2016 – Mental Health and Recovery 9:15 – 4:45 at Inshes Church
12th January - Adult Support and Protection 1 pm – 4 pm at the Council Chamber in Dingwall
21st January – Behaviour that Challenges 9 am – 5 pm at Inshes Church
22nd January - Food Hygiene 9 am – 5 pm at Inshes Church
28th January - Health and Safety 9 am – 4 pm at Inshes Church
2nd February - Behaviour that Challenges Refresher 9 am – 12:30 pm at Inshes Church
6th and 7th February - Medications training 10 am – 1 pm at the Recovery Centre
16th February - Behaviour that Challenges Refresher 1 pm – 4 pm at Inshes Church
Starters & Leavers
Philip Cochrane - Support Worker BHRC
Nikki MacKenzie - Support Worker BHRC
Linda MacLean - Support Worker BHRC
Pauline Burnett – Fundraising Manager Head Office
Ruth Carleton & Sandy Brander – Interns at A2B
Evan MacKenzie – SW BHRC
Simon Venn – SW BHRC
Paul Cranston – SW BHRC
Julie Snowden – RSW BHRC
Andrew Snowden – RSW BHRC
Margaret MacDonald – RSE BHRC
Petty Cash Policy
Restraint for Care at Home & Housing Support Services
Student Placement Review Policy
Travel and Subsistence Policy