Birchwood Highland Youth Explained

Birchwood Highland Youth works with young people to offer flexible activity-based group opportunities for their growth and development. 

Young people tell us that they value continuity, support and structure as the main benefits of working alongside us.  Activities offered by  echo Birchwood Highland’s core values of independence, inclusion and recovery. We are happy to work with all young people who feel they will benefit from our services. This includes providing information that helps prevent mental health issues, like building reliance, and skills in self managing positive mental health and wellbeing. We are also keen to be a source of signposting and early support for young people who wish assistance in managing their mental health, as a means to lessening the impact on their longer term mental health and quality of life. 

Every young person at Birchwood Highland works with has individual needs and aspirations. Some young people at times can feel stressed and anxious. Others may feel isolated or worthless, and that no one understands them. Many young people feel that they have no one to talk to about how they are really feeling. Some young people wish support with accessing education, training, volunteering or employment opportunities. Some young people wish support with building the skills that would enable them to improve in managing family and other social relationships, or with their housing or with managing money, or some other aspect of their lives.

Youth activities focus on enabling young people to participate in enjoyable and purposeful activities within the community and, through this, increase quality of life, encourage meaningful use of time, and build skills and resilience. Our key aim is to enable and empower young people in managing their own life effectively.  We take a flexible approach, with young people themselves guiding and shaping Birchwood Highland Youth. This means they are engaged in the design, delivery and evaluation of our work which offers them a more powerful experience.

Our primary goal is to support and improve the mental health and self-esteem of the young people we work alongside as there is evidence that good social relationships promote well-being and good mental health. We also aim to challenge stigma around mental health. Stigma can mean that feelings of shame and embarrassment, in addition to mental health symptoms, can serve to further isolate, sap confidence, and delay young people in seeking the help and support they need. This can then impact on their longer term wellbeing. 

We aim to offer information, and group activities as an early intervention and to link young people who are experiencing mental health issues to relevant opportunities, agencies, community facilities, and where appropriate signpost them to relevant specialist services. 

What are we offering?

Social Enterprise sessions

Awards For All funding has been secured for Birchwood Highland Youth to join forces with the Social Enterprise Academy in Inverness to provide a group of young people aged 16-25 the opportunity of conceiving of and developing a social enterprise programme.  Initially the young people research and develop the idea, with a view to it being rolled out into a business which is a sustainable vehicle for learning, development and meaningful engagement for current group members, and for young people who may join the venture in the future.   

We have chosen to join forces with the Social Enterprise Academy as it has successfully contributed to the development of other new start social enterprises focusing on engaging with participants with multiple barriers to entering the labour market - these include The Brora Gallery and Made in Tain.   Evaluated by HMIE in 2011 the Social Enterprise Academy was rated 'Excellent' and 'Very Good' on all criteria - the highest ever rating for any third sector organisation in Scotland. 

On this programme young people will…

*Understand their own strengths and develop skills that are valued by employers

*Find out how social enterprises can help our communities

*Become confident in leadership and teamwork through designing a new social enterprise

*Get a City & Guilds qualification

 Social Enterprise sessions are free.  More details on this opportunity to be posted soon.  To find out more call Linda Birnie, Community Services Manager on 01463 236 507 or email:

Writing Workshops

Lost For Words? was a three-week programme of relaxed and informal writing sessions that provided tips and simple techniques to enable young people to find their voice. Run in conjunction with Moniack Mhor Creative Writing Centre, the sessions were hosted by John Glenday, a local author who has previously been a winner of a Scottish Arts Council Book Award and Shortlisted for 2010 Ted Hughes Award. 

16-25 year olds joined us for relaxed and informal writing sessions where John provided some top tips and simple techniques to get us writing. Creative ideas and writings flowed, with thought provoking discussions, in a relaxed informal setting, with snacks to keep us going. 

For information about further writing workshop opportunities for young people through Moniak Mhor please contact Eilidh on 01463 741 675 or for information about further Aspire 2 Be activities please contact Linda Birnie on 01463 236 507.