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Mikeysline to mark 8 years of mental health support with Inverness birthday celebration for whole community

By Andrew Dixon

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Cameron Macfarlane and Emily Stokes. Picture: Callum Mackay..
Cameron Macfarlane and Emily Stokes. Picture: Callum Mackay..

Mikeysline is marking its 8th anniversary this December, and bringing the community together to celebrate the Highland mental health charity’s achievements over the past eight years.

The charity will hold a celebration in the Victorian Market on Inverness’s Academy Street, from 4pm-6pm on Wednesday, December 6 – and everyone is invited.

As well as honouring the huge steps Mikeysline has taken in reducing stigma around mental health and suicide prevention in the north of Scotland, attendees will find out how they can ‘Bee the Change’ in their communities, schools and workplaces.

Mikeysline was founded in 2015 following the tragic deaths of good friends, Martin Shaw and Michael Williamson within 48 hours of each other. Speaking to Martin and Michael’s peers at their wake, Mikey’s uncle Ron Williamson, heard that young people felt that they had nowhere to go when they were at a loss when struggling with mental health issues.

Mikeysline CEO Emily Stokes said: “The support shown for Mikeysline over the past eight years has been nothing short of astounding. As a grassroots charity, we receive no government funding – so everything we provide for the Highland, Island and Moray communities is enabled by the support of individuals and businesses across the north of Scotland.

“On behalf of everyone at Mikeysline, I’d like to thank all our volunteers, staff, fundraisers and everyone that has ever donated or attended one of our events. It is thanks to the hard work and generosity of our communities that we can provide support to people in their time of need.

“It’s a sad fact that suicide rates remain high in the Highlands, so there is still much to be done to reduce the stigma around discussing mental health. But by continuing to work together we can continue to make steps in the right direction, and reach people when they most need support.”

Attendees at the event will be able to meet people who have already committed to Bee the Change in the Highlands – effecting changes in their communities through commitments big and small, from putting up posters in local establishments to making and selling jewellery as a fundraiser. Those interested in getting involved with the charity can find out more here.

Guests will be able to meet the students of Millburn Academy’s NPA Jewellery class, take a photo with Leo and Geordie the donkeys, get bee facepainting from Happy Faces and bee balloon modelling from Trapeze Entertainment, and enjoy live music from the Black Isle Peas. They will also hear a special pre-recorded message and song from Scottish chart topper Callum Beattie, who performed live at the charity’s Ladies Day earlier this year.

The event is free to attend, with guests encouraged to register in advance here.

Allana Stables, Bee the Change manager at Mikeysline, said: “The conversation around mental health can be difficult for many, but it’s important to remember that it’s OK not to be OK. That’s why we’re spreading this message through our Bee the Change campaign – encouraging people to make a positive impact in their communities, schools and workplaces.

“Everyone can make a difference to others’ mental wellbeing through even the smallest of acts. For someone who is at their lowest point, just knowing that someone is looking out for them and asking how they are can be a huge help.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming the community to the Victorian Market on December 6 to celebrate everything Mikeysline has achieved over the past eight years – and to look ahead at how we can all Bee the Change.”

Cameron MacFarlane, general manager of the Victorian Market – which has donated the event space for the charity celebration – added: “We’re proud to be holding Mikeysline’s 8th birthday party in the Victorian Market. All our tenants are passionate supporters of Mikeysline, so to bring the community together to celebrate the amazing work the charity does is fantastic.”

To mark the Mikeysline’s 8th anniversary, the Inverness Town House will also be lit up in the charity’s signature yellow and blue colours.

Since 2015, Mikeysline has offered confidential, non-judgemental support to people of all ages dealing with mental health issues, emotional distress or thoughts of suicide in the Highlands and Moray. It does this via a text line service at 07786 207755; WhatsApp at 01463 729000 and via its website; and live chat, Twitter and Messenger via its website.

The charity also produces a popular podcast, Speaking of Suicide; provides supports for businesses; works closely with teachers and pupils in schools across the north of Scotland; and offers face-to-face support in Hives across the region – at its Inverness headquarters, and in Alness, Nairn, Tain and its surrounding communities. Here, both adults and young people can engage in one-to-one support. The charity also provides one-to-one support in nine secondary schools weekly.

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