Member of the Week - Blythswood Care

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 we 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 us for support.

I’m Danny Muschate, I have worked at Blythswood since early 2007 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. Blythswood employs 120 with 90 in the Highlands.

We have been greatly supported by Chamber members over the years and want to take this opportunity to be member of the week and share with them our current challenge and suggest how they can be involved.

Our biggest annual campaign is the Shoe Box Appeal.This year with the additional challenges we are still proceeding.We encourage people to fill an empty shoebox with practical items and gifts.Things we take for granted can be a luxury for someone living in abject poverty.If an empty box is difficult to source this year then you can fill a drawstring bag that itself will be useful.Why not get involved this year.Go to www.shoeboxappeal.org for all the information you need.

Our 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.Our Foodbanks have been especially busy this year but thanks to the generosity of individuals, businesses and stores we have been able to meet the need.

Over the next 12 months we aim to develop on-line sales and also increase awareness through social media and direct mail.We are also planning to expand the Talita Kum programme to provide vocational training opportunities as it reaches its 20th anniversary.

Inverness chamber asked me what I value most about our membership: “

We have our ‘Brains for Blythswood’ virtual quiz in October.  Great event with three regional quizzes on the same night and then the three top teams from each going into a final in December.  Why not join in, your team don’t even have to be in the same location for the event.  Would be wonderful if Chamber members could have teams involved.  For more info go to https://blythswood.org/brains-for-blythswood/