The Highland charity welcomes £210,000 to support more volunteers

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Neil Davidson is one of the volunteers at New Start Highland.Neil Davidson is one of the volunteers at New Start Highland.
Neil Davidson is one of the volunteers at New Start Highland.

Inverness-based charity New Start Highland has been awarded £210,000 by the Garfield Weston Foundation, allowing more people to enter the supported internship program than ever before.

Each year the social enterprise works with almost 1,500 families and individuals who are vulnerable in a variety of ways, including providing practical work experience and qualifications to help them find work.

These volunteer and placement opportunities help people learn important life skills and build friendships when they feel stuck, whether that’s due to mental health issues, loneliness or social isolation.

James Dunbar, CEO of New Start Highland, said: “We are very proud of our supported placement programme, which helps break down barriers to personal progression. There is currently an unprecedented need for this type of support service. It is delivered by a brilliant mix of employees, trainers, mentors and colleagues.

“We have seen real transformations in the people who have interned with us, whether they have worked in our gardens, workshops, warehouses, shops or offices. We are extremely grateful for this funding, which will allow us to continue these internships. more people can learn skills and gain confidence, allowing them to begin their journey to a better future.”

Mary-Anne Morrison, 49, one of the people benefiting from the supported placement program, was referred to New Start Highland by her occupational therapist and has never looked back.

Mary Anne Morrison began a supervised internship at New Start Highland Gardens, where she has spent three days a week for the past two years and has never looked back.Mary Anne Morrison began a supervised internship at New Start Highland Gardens, where she has spent three days a week for the past two years and has never looked back.
Mary Anne Morrison began a supervised internship at New Start Highland Gardens, where she has spent three days a week for the past two years and has never looked back.

She said: “New Start Highland saved me. Without these gardens and these people, I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I’ve come in my recovery journey. I am forever grateful, my family will be forever grateful. I have my life back, I have purpose, I have balance and I don’t just have colleagues, I have real friends.”

Neil Davidson, who volunteers in the gardens and carpentry, echoed Mary Anne’s sentiments.

He said: “The support and sense of community for people from different backgrounds here is second to none. I just don’t know where I would be if I didn’t have the goal of showing up every day and being part of the team.

New beginnings Hoogland.New beginnings Hoogland.
New beginnings Hoogland.

“Over the years I have come to realize that people in life need community to thrive. They need a connection with nature. The New Start Highland Gardens offers both and when combined they can be quite powerful and life-changing.”

The charity has five stores in Inverness, Thurso and Dingwall with exciting expansion plans on the horizon.

Last year alone the stores, which sell cheap and free furniture and household items, saw footfall of more than 80,000 people.

All items in the store have been diverted from landfill, which not only benefits the climate, but also helps people in the Highlands build their homes.

Profits from New Start Highland’s various business activities, including moving, warehousing and home clearances, are reinvested into the organization to help fund its charitable services.

Last year, more than 9,000 items were diverted from landfill and 540 furniture packages were distributed.

Last month, 265 households were supported in retaining a rental contract.


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