Our Past Successes

Scotland – Growing2gether

Between January 2017 – September 2022, our Scotland-based Growing2gether programme transformed the lives of over 1,000 young people and children throughout the Scottish Highlands.

About Growing2gether

Growing2gether is the only programme in Scotland to pair disadvantaged young people as mentors to nursery children with social and personal challenges, combined with peer training in emotional skills to build mental health. The newly-formed charity was first developed by Diana Whitmore, MAEd, after three years’ consultation with young people, Highland Council, schools and parents, who highlighted a need for an intensive programme to support the mental health of Scotland’s children. Their robust evaluation proves that they have transformed the lives of many young people facing disadvantage, building their mental health, educational and community engagement and life skills.

Growing2gether first joined Ecologia Youth Trust in January 2017 as a newly established project. As part of Ecologia, Growing2gether has gone from strength to strength, reaching over 1330 young people and children across the Highlands. Their continued success as a programme under Ecologia enabled them to finally fly the nest and move forward in their development plans.

Their ambition is to expand to other deprived areas including Dundee and Aberdeen. They train local school staff in skills to deliver the programme in the future with ongoing outcome evaluation and quality assurance provided by the charity. Through Growing2gether’s partnership with Highland Council, they train Youth Development Workers employed by the Council, who work alongside school facilitators. This increases sustainability and helps the charity reach more young people.

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What We Have Achieved

We’re pleased that due to it’s immense success, Growing2gether became an independent charity, forming in September 2022. As such, Growing2gether is no longer one of Ecologia’s projects.

Initial studies show that 84% of participants have reached a ‘positive destination’ including work, training or further study.

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susie Kemp

Susie has 30+ experience as a creative copywriter, editor, and proofreader, starting out as a 20-year-old copywriter in the Mad Men world of early 1990s advertising in South Africa. Ever since, she’s had a love affair with creative conceptualisation, thinking outside of the box, writing to a deadline, and being thrown in the deep end!

She took an MSc in Publishing at Edinburgh Napier University as a mature student, in 2015, and continues to keep herself busy working as a copy-editor, proofreader and copywriter in book publishing, corporate communications, and publishing project management.

Apart from her love of working with independent authors, Susie has a fondness for working in the third sector and likes to use her corporate communications and marketing experience to support projects close to her heart. She has lived and worked in the Findhorn area for 25 years, and has been involved in a number of third sector projects and organisations, and family businesses.

Working at Ecologia Youth Trust helps Susie to live in integrity with her values of supporting the next generation to be the best that they can be, and she sees it as a way to give back to Mama Africa, the beloved continent on which she was born.

Ellen Shaw

Ellen joined the Ecologia team in June 2018 as Marketing and Communications Manager. Ellen has lived in Scotland for 6 years and has worked for non-profit and charitable organisations across varied fields. She currently shares her passion for helping young people through Ecologia Youth Trust and she works as a dancer and dance teacher in her spare time.

Robyn Cooper

Robyn is the Associate Director of International Projects, having previously worked within the team as a Project Development and Marketing Officer from April 2019 until May 2021. As Associate Director, Robyn is co-leading the International side of Ecologia with Founder and Director, Liza Hollingshead, bringing a new energy into Ecologia as they look towards the future of the charity.

Liza Hollingshead

Liza is the founder of Ecologia and Director of International Projects. She was born and educated in South Africa and worked there as a high school teacher. She moved to live in the Findhorn Community in 1974. She started Ecologia in 1995 after being introduced to Dmitry Morozov, the founder of Kitezh Children’s Community in Russia, and was inspired to support the community in its mission to rescue orphaned children from institutions and give them homes, families and education in a supportive environment.

This led to projects supporting disadvantaged youth and children in South East Asia and in East Africa. TRead more about Liza’s story here.