Mikeysline seeks new chair for next phase of mental health charity’s development

Mental health charity Mikeysline seeks a new chair as Donna Smith (left) announces intention to step down. She is pictured here with Mikeysline CEO Emily Stokes, with the charity's 2020 HTSI Award.

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A SCOTTISH mental health support and suicide prevention charity is on the lookout for a new chair of its board of trustees to guide it through the next stage of its service development.

Mikeysline, headquartered in Inverness and supporting communities across the Highlands and Moray, has begun the search after current chair Donna Smith announced her intention to step down at the charity’s next AGM in June 2023.

Donna said: “My three years as chair of Mikeysline have been incredible, and I am so proud of what everyone has achieved during that time. We have faced enormous challenges during that time, and seen demand for services grow by 80%, so there is clearly still much to be done.

“As Mikeysline continues to grow and expand, I feel the charity would benefit from a chair with a different set of skills and expertise to help enable this transition. And although I am stepping down as chair, I look forward to still being closely involved with Mikeysline in the future.”

Interested parties should apply by February 13 – with handover in April and official appointment in June. Full role details are available at www.mikeysline.co.uk/get-involved/careers/.

Mikeysline CEO Emily Stokes commented: “Donna’s contribution to Mikeysline has been immeasurable, helping us navigate unprecedented times during the pandemic, cost of living crisis and other major events. Her dedication and commitment to our core values have proven incredibly valuable as we significantly increased our service offering over the last three years.

“Although we’re sad to see her step down as chair, she will always be part of the Mikeysline family – and we are excited to see what her successor will bring to the role.”

Mikeysline’s board of trustees is looking for a new chair with experience at senior leadership level in mental health or suicide prevention. Previous experience of working at a strategic level for the benefit of a charity or organisation will allow the ideal candidate to make their mark in this voluntary role for a charity that has grown significantly over its seven years.

In recent months, Mikeysline has introduced WhatsApp to its text-based mental health support services; offered new group peer-to-peer support sessions; partnered with secondary and primary schools to support young people in the community; launched corporate support packages; and increased capacity for one-to-one support by opening new Hive locations across the north of Scotland.

Speaking of the role, Donna said: “What Mikeysline has achieved in the last three years has been truly remarkable, and I am pleased to have been able to play a part in that along with our incredible staff and volunteers.”

During her time as chair, Donna’s focus was on providing support in schools to allow the charity to reach people in need at a young age. She also worked hard to expand the board, bringing in new outlooks and expertise, and using her skills as a business consultant to develop a management structure to take Mikeysline forward.

Donna continued: “Covid hit not long after I took up the role of chair, so many of the board’s plans to expand services and make the charity more robust were put on hold while we addressed the immediate need for support in our community.

“Seeing the work in schools take off over the past 18 months – and even be discussed in Holyrood – will have a major impact on young people in the north of Scotland for the rest of their lives. For that, I am incredibly proud.

“And I am now happy to report that the charity is stronger than ever – with visibility and awareness of our services at an all-time high. While it is sad to see a need for service use increase, the fact that more people are reaching out to get the support they need is definitely a positive.”

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; works closely with teachers and pupils in schools across the north of Scotland; and offers face-to-face support in four Hives across the region – at its Inverness headquarters, Tesco in Tain, The Place in Alness, and the Highland Yoga Collective in Nairn. Here, service users can engage in one-to-one support or join in group sessions. For more information, visit www.mikeysline.co.uk – or find Mikeysline on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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