Member of the Week - Blythswood
Blythswood Care was started by the Rev Jackie Ross in 1966 and was run from Lochcarron where he worked as a church minister. Connections within Eastern Europe grew over the following years through the churches network. When Communism fell Blythswood were able to take much-needed aid into people through this network with an average of more than one load per week going over during 1990, the first year after the fall. Work grew and developed and in 2000 Blythswood’s first own project, The Daniel Centre, opened in Romania. This residential project works with ex-orphanage boys in giving opportunities for training and development to be able to move on to independent living. The following year the second project opened, Talita Kum, in south-west Romania. Talita Kum is a project working the poorest children in the local area offering them education support and training as well as hygiene and practical skills and nutritional meals. This is especially important for children and young people who come from mostly one-room homes with the very basic facilities. Talia Kum 2 opened in 2012 to work with secondary-age young people and thereby continue the work started when they were younger.
In 2005, Blythswood opened the first Highland Foodbank, then only the 5th Foodbank in the UK. This wasn’t expected to be a long-term project but year-on-year sees growth of the number of people referred to them for support.
We spoke to Danny Muschate Head of Fundraising & Marketing. On his role at Blythswood, Danny said: “I have worked at Blythswood for 13 years after nine years working for NHS Highland. I am the Head of Fundraising & Marketing for Blythswood. Time is spent on researching for suitable grant funders, managing the fundraising team and developing new ideas. Lots of time is spent on networking with businesses and organisations and also the social media and marketing of Blythswood. I am responsible for producing the promotional material for the annual Shoe Box Appeal that includes filming each year for the video as well as the direct marketing publications. I also organise the trips to Romania for three Inverness schools where teams of S5 pupils go to our projects to help run camps for deprived children.”
Danny told us why he would like to feature as member of the week: “We have been greatly supported by Chamber members over the years and want to take this opportunity to share with them our current challenge and suggest how they can be involved.”
Blythswood run the foodbanks across the Highlands and would like to engage with local businesses to become Foodbank Business Buddies to help us feed local people in times of crisis. Over 7,000 people in the Highlands were fed by the foodbanks in 2019. At this time of year we would like to encourage people to participate in our Reverse Advent Calendar appeal. Fill a bag with the list available through our website and help us feed local people in times of crisis this Christmas. www.blythswood.org.
Blythswood shops have plenty of pre-owned quality clothing as well as furniture. We also offer upcycled dog beds from the superstores in Harbour Road, Inverness and Dingwall as well as at our head office shop in Evanton.
Danny shared with Inverness Chamber his business plans over the next 12 months: “To develop on-line sales and also increase awareness through social media and direct mail.”
Danny shared with us what Blythswood value most about their Inverness Chamber membership: “The enthusiasm of the Chamber team and the opportunity to meet local business representatives through the various organised events. Chamber team members have given time in a practical way that we greatly appreciate.”
Danny gave us his top-tip for making the most of Inverness Chamber membership: “Make the most of your membership by attending the networking lunches and breakfasts to meet local business representatives and find out how you can help and support each other. Blythswood have certainly benefitted from this.”
You can support Blythswood in helping to transform lives at home and abroad by donating your unwanted clothing, footwear, bric-a-brac and furniture. This can be dropped off at any of their shops or bulkier items can be uplifted free-of-charge. Donations of food for their Foodbanks are always welcome.