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Vote for The P&J’s official charity partners today: Highlands, Islands and Moray small to medium charities

The vote to decide The P&J's official charity partners 2024 is now open.

Votes can be submitted up until Wednesday November 15.
Votes can be submitted up until Wednesday November 15.

Readers can now vote for the north and north-east charities they believe should be named an official P&J charity partner.

As part of our 275 anniversary celebrations, The P&J 275 Community Fund was launched earlier this year as a way for us to celebrate and support the work of local charities across Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, and the Highlands, Islands and Moray.

Readers were asked to nominate charities which would then be in with the chance of being named as a P&J charity partner after a public vote.

More than 100 charities were nominated and split into four categories, grouped by region and size.

The charities with the most votes in each category will benefit from The P&J 275 Community Fund, receiving a minimum of £10,000 in the next year.

Our fifth charity partner is Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA), which The P&J has supported since 2019.

As P&J charity partners, each of the charities will be supported by The Press and Journal throughout 2024, including at The P&J’s 275 Charity Gala, which will take place at Aberdeen’s P&J Live on February 2.

Vote today

Readers can learn about all of the nominated charities in the Highlands, Islands and Moray small to medium category below.

You can vote for your chosen charity in the Highlands, Islands and Moray small to medium category here.

Don’t forget – you can also submit your vote in each of the other three categories:

Voting closes on Wednesday November 15.

Affa Sair

Affa Sair is a Forres-based charity set up to help people with chronic pain.

In Moray, there are an estimated 19,000 people living with long-term pain and suffering.

The charity helps people across Moray and beyond by allowing them to share their experiences, and advises them on the latest research and resources available.

Each month the charity sends out a free newsletter, maintains an insightful website and runs a busy closed Facebook group available to members only. Currently the charity has around 750 members.

Free monthly meetings are held in Elgin to help people cope with feelings of isolation.

Affa Sair offers support to those living with chronic pain.

Affa Sair was set up as a closed Facebook group in 2015 and went on to become a registered charity in 2019.

It is a member of the government’s Chronic Pain Taskforce, advising on chronic pain issues.

In the past year, Affa Sair has contributed and advised on university studies looking into the effects of chronic pain, both physical and mental.

The charity has been involved in creating the first social prescribing scheme in Scotland specifically for chronic pain.

It aims to re-engage chronic pain patients into society and re-introduce purpose into their lives.

If named as a charity partner, Affa Sair would like to develop a discount scheme where members could access complementary therapies such as massage, craniosacral therapy, aromatherapy massage, creative kinesiology and others.

The funds would also help to produce many more information brochures and pamphlets on chronic pain subjects for display in GP practices, hospitals and the community.

Vote for Affa Sair

Black Isle Cares

Black Isle Cares, established in 2015, looks to identify the gaps within support systems for elderly and vulnerable people and sets out to find solutions that can resolve them. It was founded to combat the lack of local care options for vulnerable residents in the Black Isle.

The charity works alongside various partners and individually, and also supports service development on behalf of other organisations while aiding those living in rural and isolated areas.

Some of these services include developing care homes and care at home assistance, meals at home, befriending and intergenerational activities.

Black Isle Cares looks to identify the gaps within support systems for elderly and vulnerable people.

In partnership with the Highland Hospice, its befriending service currently matches eight volunteers with eight befriendees, and also ventures further afield through its community larder.

However, the biggest impact it has made is through intergenerational activities uniting younger with older generations with a series of activities.

Moving forward, Black Isle Cares wants to continue developing new partnerships with care homes, men’s sheds and local primary schools.

Recruiting more volunteers would allow the charity to expand on the services it currently supplies to reach a wider range of people in need.

Any donation from The P&J 275 charity fund would be used across its intergenerational activities as it hopes to appoint an intergenerational worker to focus on this area.

Vote for Black Isle Cares

Black Isle Men’s Shed

Black Isle Men’s Shed, made up of around 100 members, creates items such as benches and clocks from wood, and repairs community assets that have fallen into disrepair.

The charity has completed work for both community councils and local charities either free of charge or at the cost of materials alongside a small donation to cover expenses.

Over the years, the group has been involved with Avoch Primary School, by hosting workshops with P6 pupils to help them design and create wooden toys and bird boxes for the playground.

The Black Isle Men’s Shed wants to upgrade IT equipment.

The charity recently met with the youngsters to discuss their ideas for a workshop and valued the time with the children teaching them vital woodworking skills, before the youngsters presented their projects to the school and parents during an assembly.

Black Isle Men’s Shed also hopes to expand on current social activities to draw more people into the group, whether to take part in project work or to socialise and become more comfortable within a social environment post-Covid.

If Black Isle Men’s Shed was to become a charity partner, the funds would be invested in updating IT equipment to allow the running of basic IT courses.

The charity would also buy essential materials to allow the continuation of free services to the local community.

Vote for Black Isle Men’s Shed

Buckie Men’s Shed

Buckie Men’s Shed provides recreational facilities to advance the social needs, health and wellbeing of any man aged 18 or over who currently resides in Buckie or its surrounding areas.

It offers opportunities for men in the Buckie area to meet and undertake creative, physical, purposeful and recreational activities of their choice.

Buckie Men’s Shed was created in February this year through the Peoplehood Project. So far, it has 21 members and continues to grow. In May it found suitable premises in the centre of Buckie.

The charity is a proud member of the Scottish Men’s Shed Association and now works together with other men’s sheds to benefit health and wellbeing across Scotland.

Funds from The P&J 275 Community Fund would be used to continue with the refurbishment of Buckie Men’s Shed’s premises

The men’s shed has come a long way in such a short time and this is solely down to the determination and commitment of all the members.

The charity continues to transform its building into a suitable base for the group’s meetings and activities, including any worthwhile community projects that are identified, undertaken or need support.

Overall, Buckie Men’s Shed strives to reduce the isolation of men in the area, improve their physical and mental wellbeing, and develop the capacity for men in the Buckie area to share their skills and knowledge with others in the community.

Funds from The P&J 275 Community Fund would be used to continue with the refurbishment of its premises which would allow members to have an increased sense of purpose, build new friendships, exchange ideas and learn.

Vote for Buckie Men’s Shed

Buckies Roots

Buckies Roots designs and maintains all the floral displays in Buckie, as well as displays on the Speyside Way. The charity also encourages waste management and recycling by undertaking litter picking throughout the town and surrounding areas year-round.

Created in 2018 by three volunteers who were inspired by negative comments about the town’s appearance on social media, Buckies Roots became a charity one year later.

Now part of the Keep Scotland Beautiful charity, all of those involved are local volunteers who take time out of their own lives to look after their community.

Buckies Roots was established as a charity in 2019.

Buckies Roots aims to promote community spirit through various activities, and to bring colour and enjoyment to people through designing and planting floral displays in community areas in Buckie.

If Buckies Roots was chosen to be a P&J charity partner for 2024, funds would go towards securing a permanent base for the charity. Funds would also help get a much-needed water supply into the square and an information board to showcase Buckie’s awards and community craft displays.

The charity also hopes to add a seated feature that represents the Buckie community, allowing people to meet up and enjoy the surroundings and flowers. Finally, the charity hopes to purchase an all-weather marquee to host events throughout the year.

Vote for Buckies Roots

Cultarlann Inbhir Nis

Cultarlann Inbhir Nis sets out a vision to establish a Gaelic Cultural Centre in Inverness to showcase and celebrate the Gaelic culture and language in an inclusive environment.

To achieve its goal, the group has committed to running crowdfunders and community events to help raise awareness, as well as provide opportunities to interact with the language with fellow Gaelic speakers.

There has been demand for a Gaelic centre in the area for a number of years, with a feasibility study carried out in 2018 showing the public had overwhelming support for the initiative.

With support from Bord na Gaidhlig, Cultarlann Inbhir Nis was deemed the best voluntary organisation to administer this project.

Cultarlann Inbhir Nis aims to celebrate the Gaelic culture and language.

The group has received a positive response from the public – all of whom have been enthusiastic to get involved in fundraiser schemes.

Many have volunteered their time to help raise funds for the project and the charity has raised a total of £30,000 through fundraising activities.

Cultarlann Inbhir Nis now has its sights set on a venue – the East Church on Academy Street. The venue will be community-owned and volunteers hope it is the resource needed to breathe life back into the area.

If named a P&J 275 charity partner, the organisation would dedicate funds towards the final costs of the venue, securing a long-term vision as it becomes a reality.

The centre would be open to all who wished to take part as the team hopes to create local jobs, offer learning opportunities and unite the community.

Vote for Cultarlann Inbhir Nis

Finechty Men’s Shed

This community based charity aims to provide a safe and social environment for residents to work on their own projects without the pressure of time constraints and in the company of like-minded individuals.

The Finechty Men’s Shed is open to anyone aged 18 and above with a goal to improve and support male health and wellbeing while alleviating any social isolation they may face.

Based in Findochty, a clubhouse, meeting room and two small workshops are open to members three mornings a week from 10am-2pm, and additional times if required.

Finechty Men’s Shed has been met with great enthusiasm from members and the local community.

Workshops allow members to get involved with an array of activities such as woodworking, mechanical and electrical, and offers general working facilities that give people a chance to develop valuable practical skills by utilising them across community projects.

Finechty Men’s Shed has been met with great enthusiasm from members and the local community, letting the group branch out into greater community projects. It is currently looking to expand on its workshops.

In the coming year, the group hopes to provide new activities as well as establish a women’s craft group to meet in the clubhouse, and wants to upgrade its tooling and equipment.

If the group became a P&J charity partner, it would have the funding needed to enhance its provisions and investigate managing wider projects within the community.

Vote for Finechty Men’s Shed

Feis Nan Garbh Chriochan

Feis nan Garbh Chriochan, founded in 1991 in Acharacle, offers young people – from P1 to P6 – weekly lessons in traditional music across several remote communities.

The charity teaches fiddle, chanter/pipes, accordion, keyboard, drumming and guitar in addition to a summer school, which provides activities based around music, Gaelic singing lessons and shinty, and gives opportunities to perform.

While the charity does receive a grant from Feisean nan Gaidheal, activities are maintained primarily through fundraising efforts throughout the year as services are expanded across a wider area.

This charity provides musical opportunities for young people.

Run by volunteers, the charity is focused on making valuable and inclusive experiences accessible to young people, and works tirelessly to communicate with the youngsters and bring their suggestions onboard.

This year, there has been a heavier focus on retaining teenage participants, who have become role models for younger students and gone on to perform alongside touring bands.

The charity has welcomed renowned musicians as part of various workshops and made a big push on groupwork activities, but hopes to develop learning opportunities to encourage young people to learn instruments from an earlier age.

If chosen as a charity partner, the group would invest funds into activities and look to establish further music-making workshops for nursery children, which would open up employment opportunities to local musicians and practitioners.

Vote for Feis Nan Garbh Chriochan

Friendly Access – SurfABLE Scotland

SurfABLE Scotland took to the waves in 2017 and set out to provide surf therapy access for everyone aged five and above, regardless of disability or condition.

The initiative was established to empower people living with hidden disabilities by helping to break down barriers and encourage independent living through affordable and accessible amenities in public environments.

More than 250 regulars, primarily children, attend its sessions, led by more than 30 volunteers, who take a holistic approach towards transforming Scotland into a fairer, more accessible and inclusive place, regardless of disability or condition.

The charity hopes to build its first surf therapy and changing facility at Lossiemouth.

SurfABLE currently operates as a mobile unit, which has proven successful, but this can also be restricting to those who may require support due to physical impairments, as many beach/surf locations are not equipped to cater to those needs.

The charity hopes to build Scotland’s first surf therapy and changing facility at Lossiemouth and has received support from Lossiemouth Community Council, Lossiemouth Development Trust and members of the public.

A pre-planning application has already been presented to the local authority with plans to submit a full planning application by the end of the year.

If SurfABLE became a charity partner, it would use the funds to combat running costs and increase its range of adaptive equipment, buying beach wheelchairs and a Hippocampe beach chair.

Vote for Friendly Access – SurfABLE Scotland

Glenelg Mountain Rescue Association

Glenelg Mountain Rescue Association (Glenelg MRT) gives free help and assistance to people who need to be rescued while exploring the Scottish landscape.

Established in 1973, Glenelg MRT is run by local volunteers who offer their time to provide help when needed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and regardless of weather conditions.

The services are offered across Glenelg peninsula, Arnisdale, parts of Loch Duich, Kinloch Hourn, Barrisdale and Knoydart, and cover an area of approximately 550 km square.

Working in partnership with SARs, Glenelg MRT members have received helicopter training this year, conducting three successful rescues in the local area and assisting the Kintail Mountain Rescue Team in a difficult recovery of a fatality in Glen Shiel.

Glenelg Mountain Rescue Association gives free assistance to people who need its help.

Active for 50 years, the charity is currently undergoing negotiations to obtain a small area of land to build its MRT base, which would enable a faster response to emergencies and easier access to the helicopter landing site.

The base would enable the charity to keep vital rescue equipment and technologies in a safe and central location, provide a space for training new volunteers and carrying out admin tasks, and help it run rescue operations safely.

Should Glenelg Mountain Rescue Association be named one of The P&J’s 275 charity partners for 2024, the charity would put funding towards the continuation of vital services and to secure and build the base which will facilitate a faster response to emergencies.

Vote for Glenelg Mountain Rescue Association

Highland Disability Sport

Highland Disability Sport (HDS) provides sporting and leisure activities to individuals affected by a disability.

Offering a wide range of sports to choose from, HDS has aided athletes in taking part in local, national and international competitions, with many being selected for GB and Scottish teams.

The sessions are run by volunteers, and coaches and specialised equipment are provided by the charity to ensure everyone has the required support to participate.

HDS also partners with educational establishments to provide them with training on inclusivity and specialist training in para sports, educating people on how to be inclusive in their clubs and schools.

The charity aims to offer everyone a fair chance to play sports at grassroots or national level.

Established in 1982 with the goal to offer everyone a fair chance to play sports at grassroots or national level, HDS continues to encourage individuals of all ages who are affected by a disability to be more active and pursue any sports that may turn into passions.

If HDS is named as one of The P&J’s 275 charity partners for 2024, the charity would like to invest the proceeds in the purchase of specialised equipment, ensuring everyone can take part in activities, and to increase the number of events held to raise more awareness in the community.

The charity would also like to cover travel costs for participants who struggle to attend due to the nature of their disability and the resulting need for extra assistance.

Vote for Highland Disability Sport

Moray Fresh Start

Moray Fresh Start is committed to supporting homeless people to move into suitable tenancies and providing starter packs containing home essentials, giving them a fresh start.

Run by a small committee and volunteers, the charity works with a variety of organisations, including the NHS, Moray Women’s Aid, Scottish Action for Mental Health and Sacro, and relies on donations, both monetary and reusable goods, to continue to fight homelessness.

The charity believes in the practice of repair, reuse and recycle where possible, making the most of every donation.

Suitable items go in starter packs helping those moving into a tenancy have access to essential basic cooking, cleaning, eating and sleeping goods.

Moray Fresh Start is committed to supporting homeless people move into suitable tenancies.

In 2022 alone, the charity helped 340 locals, 88 of whom were children. Between January and July this year, the organisation supported 163 people, three of whom were over  70, 51 were children under 15, and 12 were between 16 and 19 years old.

Established in 2008, Moray Fresh Start continues to grow and provide support for more people every year.

The charity, encouraged by positive testimonials, takes pride in meeting people’s needs quickly, efficiently and without discrimination, and has recently extended its services to individuals in demonstrable need following referral from their support worker.

If Moray Fresh Start was named as one of The P&J’s charity partners for 2024, the charity would use the funds to expand its reach and buy items which can’t be donated for starter packs.

Vote for Moray Fresh Start

The Teddy Bear Development Playgroup

Based in Cullen, The Teddy Bear Development Group is committed to providing a safe early learning and childcare environment to children with additional needs where future development can be nurtured.

The charity provides a wide range of activities that are both stimulating and engaging.

The activities are created with the children’s needs and abilities in mind, to ensure they get the most out of each session.

To ensure children receive the correct support, staff work closely with families and professionals to create the right conditions for them to thrive and reach their full potential.

Through working partnerships, continuous training and with the support of professionals, the staff can provide physiotherapy and language and speech therapy.

The Teddy Bear Development Group is committed to providing a safe early learning and childcare environment to children with additional needs.

Founded in 1985 by a GP who recognised the need for the service in the local community, the charity had to close during the pandemic to ensure the safety of staff and children.

Now run by the committee and a team of three, new space was secured to operate within Cullen Nursery this year, with support from Moray Council.

Should The Teddy Bear Development Playgroup be voted as one of The P&J’s charity partners for 2024, the funds would be put towards expanding the team allowing for more children to be supported.

The charity would also purchase equipment and resources to support children through their learning journey, and organise a group outing to a local farm park, covering travel expenses, entry tickets, lunch and a snack for the children.

Vote for The Teddy Bear Development Playgroup

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The reader’s vote will remain open until Wednesday November 15.