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  • Writer's picturePhil Packer

UHI and West Highland College UHI embraces and champions the BRIT 2021 Challenge

We are sincerely grateful to Professor Neil Simco, Vice-Principal Research and Impact (and acting Principal prior to Professor Todd Walker taking up his post), for sharing our invitation with the Principal's Executive Group so that every University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) college has the opportunity to enter teams in the BRIT 2021 Challenge.

It was a pleasure to visit UHI in November 2019 as part of our BRIT 2020 Row Britannia Challenge and be hosted by Inverness College UHI and West Highland College UHI as part of our 5 month UK-wide tour of universities and colleges.

We were delighted that Inverness College UHI, Perth College UHI and West Highland College UHI all entered teams.

Since the visits in 2019, and throughout 2020, it has been a pleasure to build relationships with UHI. We are most grateful to Fiona Grant at West Highland College UHI for all her support and are thrilled that West Highland College UHI are embracing and championing the BRIT 2021 Challenge.

"We were truly inspired and super keen to take on The British Inspiration Trust’s Row Britannia Challenge as part of our annual Health Happy You campaign last year. The ability for our students, and staff, to participate in an event across all 10 of our college centres is of the utmost importance as is raising awareness for mental health and wellbeing.

We urge every UK university and college to join us and take part in this next challenge.

Improving and supporting the mental health of our students is a priority for us and the BRIT 2021 Challenge complements our existing work and embraces the “A More Active Scotland” vision.

The timing of the BRIT 2021 Challenge in 2021 will enable us to ensure all our students have the opportunity to take part, on campus or at home, and raise vital funds for BRIT’s partner mental health charities.

At a time when COVID-19 restrictions are affecting us all, the BRIT 2021 Challenge offers an inspiring feel-good fundraiser for students to take part safely wherever they are."

Fiona Grant

Director of Academic Affairs

West Highland College UHI

Colaiste na Gàidhealtachd an Iar UHI

We are also honoured that Isla Buchanan has joined us as a BRIT Ambassador. Isla is a Sports Coach, Football Referee, Ambassador for the Scottish Football Association, Trustee with Perth and Kinross Disability Sport and currently studying at Perth College UHI.

Isla Buchanan - BRIT Ambassador

Isla is sharing her own experiences of mental health in the hope that it inspires and helps other young adults and students;

“I am delighted to join the BRIT Ambassador family and help to support and improve young adult mental health and fitness throughout the UK.

Having experienced mental health challenges over the past eight years, I understand the difficulties that young adults face, the important of knowing where to find support and the need for a goal in life that can help you through the dark times.

Football saved my life. Eight years ago, when my Mum had a stroke, the severity of the situation hit me hard. I was 12 years old. Over the years, I became more isolated from my friends, stopped going to school and was not eating well. There was a time when I just didn’t want to be here anymore and had suicidal thoughts.

I knew I had to do something to feel better and the only thing that interested me was football. I stopped playing football at 16 and concentrated on refereeing. It has changed my life and through football, I have been able to find the strength and confidence to share my story in the hope that it can help other young adults who are struggling to cope.

It is vital that students and young adults who need help receive timely support and know where to find it. BRIT are not only partnering with other mental health charities to help with their fundraising, they are signposting where to find support from charities including PAPYRUS, Nightline, Student Minds, The Charlie Waller Trust, Samaritans and Shout.

I love the vision of BRIT and how they are uniting Olympians, Paralympians, sports personalities and adventurers to inspire young adults throughout the UK. Their annual BRIT Challenges are a fantastic way for students and young adults at every UK university and college (at home or on campus) to work as teams and be part of a feel-good fundraiser.

I hope that every university and college in Scotland enters a team and ensures that all their students and staff are aware of this super opportunity. The BRIT Challenge is being delivered to improve young adult mental health and fitness; it could also be the lifeline that saves lives too.”

Isla Buchanan BRIT Ambassador

In 2019, to mark Mental Health Awareness Week, Isla appeared in the Scottish Football Association's "How Football Saved My Life" series. We are most grateful to the Scottish Football Association for allowing us to use their film of Isla's story to support this feature on Isla and the BRIT 2021 Challenge in Scotland.

We are sincerely grateful to Isla for sharing her story and championing the BRIT 2021 Challenge in Scotland.

We hope every university and college enters teams in the BRIT 2021 Challenge and wish every student and staff member good luck with their 2,021 mile challenge and fundraising targets. Thank you for your support.


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