Ending the Year on a High

Ending the Year on a High 

An open day, a new home and a parade; MRO’s reflections on the last two months of a memorable year.

On the 16th of November Moray Reach Out held an Open Day in our new home in the centre of Buckie. Well supported by many from the local community and the surrounding area the day allowed us to shine a spotlight onto all of our current projects and initiatives in addition to telling people all about the exciting future we have planned for our new building.

Open day attractions included a yarn spinning demonstration by the MRO staff and volunteers involved in the new Art Yarn project, a display table set up by the Elgin based embroidery team who used the event as an opportunity to try and promote their services to local organisations in addition to a series of stalls selling some of the wares that can be found in MRO’s Yarns & Craft and Embroidery & Fine Gifts shops. The Buckie and Lossie recycling teams also participated, setting up an information booth where members of the public could learn more about what kind of plastics can be recycled.


Open Day team photo in our new home!


In addition to celebrating our first Open Day in the new building we also celebrated another exciting first; this was taking part in the Buckie Christmas Kracker parade on the 1st of December. The event is a Buckie tradition and consists of a parade through the town centre, a Christmas fayre and plenty of music finishing with the switching on of the town’s Christmas lights. (More information about the event can be found on the Buckie Christmas Kracker Facebook Page).

Aiming to make a big impact on our first appearance we decided to enter a float that all three of our teams could help to decorate. MRO’s ‘Yarns & Crafts’ went on to create some giant snowmen, the embroidery team made some beautiful bunting and the recycling team, had great fun making some maracas out of some of the materials they normally help to recycle! Everyone had a great time and there’s definite interest from across all of the teams to make this into an annual event.


Some of the trainees manning our float during the Buckie Christmas Kracker parade.


On one final note, Moray Reach Out would like to wish all of its customers, trainees, volunteers, staff and the Board of Directors a wonderful time over the festive period. We thank you for all the support you’ve given us over that last year and hope that you, like us, are looking forwards to an exciting 2019!


We decided to enter into the Bucks4Buckie competition and ask for £2000 towards our Plastic Recycling Environmental Project – PREP. Now we would like to share our journey in a blog!

Presenting on behalf of Moray Reach Out were Shona Radojkovic (General & Business Development Manager), Laura Campbell (MRO Recycling Team Leader) and Buckie trainees Louise Chalmer and William Mair.

With the team in place, we started to make a plan of how best to get our message across. We thought of the questions people needed the answers to, in order to understand what we were planning to do. We wanted to express the benefits of our project to us and to the community. We decided to present it like a conversation, asking and answering the questions what, why and how!

Whilst Laura and Shona discussed the project, William and Louise were happy to show off their knowledge by separating a bag of plastic bottles and trays into types 1 and 2 (that’s PETE and HDPE). They also showed through some fun facts, just how achievable our plans could be.

We went along to the Bucks4Buckie open evening, where we familiarised ourselves with the venue, tried out the microphone and planned how we would set everything up on the day.

We met on two separate occasions prior to the event and practised until everyone was happy with what they had to say or do.


What did we want to buy? – A granulator and bagging unit.

Why? – 3 reasons
• To increase the value of our plastic and find an end market for it
• To keep plastic off the streets and out of the North Sea
• To create a new training project and learn new skills

How? – Have a look at the video to see our fun facts! You can watch the video of the presentation via this link. It’s only 2 minutes long!

We were all so chuffed and there was no hesitation from all our team to get up and receive the Award from Stewart Stevenson, SNP, MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast once the voting had taken place.

On behalf of Moray Reach Out, we would like to thank Buckie Area Regeneration Forum for organising the event, which gave so many groups in Buckie a real boost! Congratulations to all who presented, you were all amazing!

An interview with Shona, the General & Business Development Manager

How long have you been working for MRO?

I joined MRO on 14th March 2014, so have been here for almost 4 years now. The tsiMoray ‘Join the Dots’ event was what I attended on my very first day working with Moray Reach Out. This marks my anniversaries each year very nicely!

Brief Description of your background preMRO:

Before MRO, I worked mainly in training & education specialising in employability skills and supporting vulnerable adults, I also did some interesting project work. One such project was working for the Scottish Government promoting relocation to Scotland for skilled workers and arranging immigration advice for companies and individuals. Some of my favourite and slightly more unusual jobs in the past were working for Thomson Holidays as an Overseas Representative which I did for a few years. I also taught English as a Second or Other Language here in the UK. Another was being a Community Interpreter, helping out with the Bosnian refugees who came to Moray just a year after my husband and I fled from the former Yugoslavia because of the war. In fact, we were only going to be here for a year maximum but that’s nearly 27 years ago. Showing my age now!!! I spent some years living and working in Germany, France, Greece and what is now Croatia. I love languages and different cultures. Also music and dancing.

Why did you decide to join MRO?

The post seemed to combine all the skills I had gathered over my working years plus it presented some new challenges. To be honest, it was my Mum who saw the advert and said that it looked like the perfect job for me. I had been working in Inverness and Invergordon and not enjoying the commuting.  The job description was a huge ask and I nearly didn’t apply because of that, but I am so glad I did.  It felt like coming home – not just to Moray, but to an organisation I really believe in.  It’s fantastic and it’s the people that make it so – our wonderful Trainees, dedicated and enthusiastic Staff and Volunteers.


Brief description of your role:

My role is to develop the business whilst keeping its social purpose at the heart of everything we do. In fact, we have two social purposes. Our first is to provide training opportunities to vulnerable adults and as we like to put it – empowering their lives. The second is to protect the environment through recycling as much as we can locally.

I try to ensure that the team which is spread across Moray work well together, sharing best practice and supporting one another. It’s important that they have all the resources and training to do their jobs with excellence. I would like to think I provide support and guidance where it’s needed but otherwise it’s about enabling our enthusiastic and experienced team to deliver the best service we can to our trainees and customers and trusting them to get on and do this. We have a very committed team at Moray Reach Out who believe in the work we do within the Moray Community.

What does your typical day look like:

There really isn’t a typical day! The work is so varied but that’s what I like about it. Sometimes, I’m busy researching ideas or writing funding applications for new projects. There’s the ongoing general management ensuring we keep up to date with legislation, visiting all the different sites to support staff, Volunteers and trainees or just catching up with them. Keeping the Board informed and preparing for Board meetings and Management Committee get-togethers where ideas are shared and decisions made about the future direction of the organisation.

What do you like best about working for MRO?

I love the upbeat and welcoming atmosphere that working with our Trainees and the Staff and Volunteers creates. It’s pretty unique. Our Chairman, Lloyd Watt, puts it well when he says we are all about Training and Trading. As the Trainees are in a real, working environment, it gives them a sense of purpose to be part of that. To see the outcome of their efforts is so rewarding for them and us.

Shetland COPE CEO and Business Manager visiting us in Moray.

Why do you think MRO is important to the Moray community?

Our Vision is Empowering Lives and everything we do is about helping people be the best they can be by teaching new skills, increasing their confidence, socialising and being part of the community.

What projects are you currently working on?

We have several projects in development at the moment. Most exciting is the proposed purchase of a building for Moray Reach Out. This will house our Head Office, our Yarns & Crafts shop (Buckie Yarns), our Thrift Shop and we will still have space for a couple of new projects. In addition, we will be able to offer workshops to the general public and become even more involved with the local Community.

What do you hope for MRO’s future?

I have huge hopes and plans for MRO’s future, the staff, Volunteers and trainees are so enthusiastic and full of ideas for both the training and the business side of things. It was an extremely proud moment when we won the Community Impact Award. Here’s some of the team and myself celebrating and having some fun with the props! There are exciting times ahead for the organisation, its people and the local community.



Exciting times could be ahead for Moray Reach Out with plans to purchase their own building.

Please take part in our community survey. It will literally only take 2 to 3 minutes and will help us shape our future and that of services we provide within Buckie and Moray.

Moray Reach Out is Rebranding!

Over the last several months Moray Reach Out has been working on an organisation wide rebranding.

This idea came to us after having another charity and social enterprise visit us. Their suggestion was a good fit with our aim to pull all of our social enterprises more closely together. As Moray Reach Out works in five different sites over three different towns we really wanted to make everyone feel more connected under the Moray Reach Out umbrella!

First we started with our Moray Reach Out logo. As much as we liked the colours we felt that our logo could be re-designed to represent who we are and what we do. We wanted it to be colourful, bright and inviting, just like us. We are always reaching out and trying to empower lives throughout our community and we want our new logo to do the same. Each hand and colour represents one of our social enterprises!

While looking at the names of our own social enterprises, it really made us think about how we could make them more clear to our customers. Over the next month you will see our website, social media and shop signs transitioning over to our new names. Our appearance might change but we continue to be the same Moray Reach Out!!

In Stitches is Moray Reach Out: Embroidery and Fine Gifts

Buckie Yarns is Moray Reach Out: Yarns and Crafts

Waste Watchers is Moray Reach Out: Recycling

Each of these names, we feel help to represent what we do at each of our social enterprises. The hands on each logo help to bring us all together under the Moray Reach Out brand, which is really about creating an inclusive workplace that empowers lives!

Our Your Choice Success: Interview with William

This week I sat down with William, our Your Choice success story turned volunteer! William started attending the shop about fourteen weeks ago. After completing the 12 weeks of the Your Choice Programme he said he wanted to continue to come to the shop as a volunteer.

William said that his Occupational Therapist first suggested attending the Moray Reach Out shop in Elgin. He remembers that he didn’t know very much about the project before coming here but he felt like he belonged right away when he walked in. Shirley, the project coordinator agreed that the staff, volunteers and trainees all felt like he fitted in right away.

I then asked William what he liked best about coming to the shop. He replied that he loves the banter with the trainees along with the friendship and company of all the staff and volunteers. He feels that training at the shop has increased his confidence greatly. Shirley agreed that she has seen a big difference in William’s communication and has seen his initiative in activities continue to increase. She also goes on to explain that all the trainees love William and are always asking after him when he isn’t in the shop. Shirley feels that William has really made an effort to get to know everyone and has really come out of his shell.

William also felt that the skills he is gaining in the shop can be used in other areas of his life. He explained that he is also involved in the Health Walk and uses his skills learned at the shop there. In fact they have recently suggested to train him as a leader due to his gain in confidence. He also mentioned that due to his experience here the Job Centre has now changed his job experience to include a supervisory role. Shirley explains that although William is a volunteer now and has different responsibilities, we are all continuing to work on building his confidence and his range of training and experiences.

Asking William why he thought Moray Reach Out was important to the community, he simply responded that the most important thing Moray Reach Out does is help people! He said that he always looks forward to coming in. William continued, saying that he definitely recommends people who are in a stage of recovery from a period of poor mental health to come in and try out the Your Choice Programme! He explains that if you’re prepared to put the time in and be patient with yourself and everyone around you, you can really give it a go!

If you have suffered a period of poor mental health and want to build your confidence through training at one of our sites please get in contact about our Your Choice programme! You can email info@morayreachout.org.uk, call 07842 356162 or come in to one of our sites!

Embroidery with the Moray School Bank

Last week we had a great group of girls come into the shop to learn about our embroidery service. The girls are volunteers on the fundraising committee for the Moray School Bank. They all take part in decisions about fundraising and participate in events. The girls are also part of a crafting club that create crafts to sell in aid of Moray School Bank.

The Moray School Bank recently approached our embroidery service to get their logo digitised and to get new hoodies and t-shirts. As the girls are all crafty they were really interested in seeing how the embroidery machines work!

We made an appointment for the girls to come into see the machines in action! The logo for the Moray School Bank takes close to an hour to embroider, so we thought it would be a fun idea for each girl to try out the machine by embroidering something on a hanky for Christmas!

The girls all did an amazing job putting the fabric into the machines, typing what they wanted to embroider and choosing fonts and colours. They were able to embroider their hanky from start to finish with minimal support.

We hope they all had a great time learning about embroidery and trying out our machines for themselves!

Sneak Peek of our Catwalk November 9th!

Several months ago we came into contact with Great Scot Scotland, a clothing company, whose offices are in Elgin just down the High Street from our shop In Stitches, our Moray Reach Out Embroidery service! Great Scot has been kind enough to sponsor our Catwalk and allow us to show off their amazing tweed trends!

We have been working very hard to pull together a fashion show with our own trainees, staff and volunteers modelling their jackets, waistcoats and more! The event will be held on the 9 November at 7:00 p.m. Entry if free! We will also be providing free refreshments!

Local businesses have been kind enough to donate some amazing prizes for our raffle! Some of these include a £100 Great Scot gift card, a hamper from Walkers, Tea for Two at Cafe Muse, a gift card for Kilt Hire, and much much more!

We will be selling raffle tickets all week at In Stitches (15 High Street, Elgin) Buckie Yarns (33 West Church Street, Buckie) and the Thrift Shop (51 West Church Street, Buckie). Raffle tickets will also be available during our fashion show where we will draw the prizes!

We would love to see everyone there! It is going to be a great event with amazing fashion! Each raffle ticket sold will be in aide of creating more opportunities for vulnerable adults throughout Moray!

Our Community Impact Award!

On 6th October the Third Sector Interface held their Impact Awards at Innes House. Moray Reach Out was very excited and honoured to discover a month ago that we were nominated in four out of the seven categories.

The categories included Environmental Impact, Economic Impact, Community Impact and Social Impact. With so many amazing social enterprises, charities and local businesses in attendance we were very excited to have been recognised with these nominations.

TsiMORAY put on a wonderful event at Innes House (with our own In Stitches providing the table decorations!). It was a fantastic evening with great hosts and speakers!

When the awards were being announced all of the Moray Reach Out attendees were thrilled and surprised when Moray Reach Out was announced as the Community Impact winner!

This award was judged based on the concept of Community Impact as:

‘An organisation making communities safer, stronger, healthier, wealthier or a better place to live. This could include starting or running community initiatives or activities, providing employment, training and/or volunteer opportunities for local people or those furthest from the job market. This category is open to interpretation and acknowledges individuals and organisations who make a difference to local people, improve community morale, the local environment and so much more.’

We want to thank our very passionate staff, volunteers and trainees for making Moray Reach Out such an inclusive place to work and train! We also want to thank the many individuals, local businesses and social enterprises that support us with their custom!

We continually strive to create opportunities that empower lives and hope that we can continue to positively impact the community for many years to come!

Moray Reach Out Trainee Spotlight: Paul

Moray Reach Out wants to highlight one of our trainees in Lossiemouth who loves working at the recycling facility! Paul is one of the originals on the Waste Watchers team as he started out at our Buckie site and then switched to working at Lossiemouth when we took over processing. Paul offered to tell us about his experience working with the Waste Watchers team and why he thinks recycling is important to the community!

When asked why he likes working at Waste Watchers Paul answered, because it’s really good fun, he enjoys working on every job and tidying up throughout the day. He also said that he enjoys working as part of a team and helping others!

Outside of Waste Watchers Paul enjoys taking part in the Six Harbour Walk/Cycle! He also loves football – he is a huge Chelsea fan! He explained that he has also been doing a lot of running as he is training for a marathon next March!

Paul discussed why he thinks recycling is so important. He said that if there wasn’t recycling, everything would just be dumped all around including the beach! He went on to say that if the Waste Watchers team didn’t help to process the recycling there would be big piles of rubbish everywhere. Paul feels that it is really important to keep our community clean!

Moray Reach Out wants to recognise all of the great work our trainees do to help our community recycle!