NORTH TEAM

Julie Taylor (Team Leader)

Hello everyone. Since joining Cala in January this year I have been on a rollercoaster of courses, meeting all my groups and getting to know all my lovely colleagues.

I relocated to the highlands in Jan 2011 and its one of the best decision I’ve ever made, not only do we live in the same village as my husbands family, Its a fantastic place for kids to grow up. Since my little girl was born I have made great friends, all of whom I met at baby and toddler groups.

When the position for Parent and Toddler Group Facilitator came up I couldn’t believe my luck, equally when I got offered the position I thought this is too good to be true. My little girl is starting playgroup and I was so sad that we would miss out on going to toddlers as we always have so much fun, but now with being the new Playgroup and Toddler Group Facilitator I will get to be the lady who provides the fun.

In my spare time, when there is some I run my children to all there after school clubs, spend time as a family and enjoy life.

 

 Eilidh Smith  (Family Practitioner)

Hello, I’m Eilidh and I joined the CALA Family Support team in August 2019 as Family Practitioner in East Sutherland. I love travelling around Sutherland meeting families and sharing with parents and carers important milestones in their children’s lives. It really is a privilege watching little ones grow and develop and I’m happy to offer my support to families along the way.

With a background in teaching baby signing classes I’m delighted to now be able to lead Bookbug sessions and baby massage classes at the baby and toddler groups I attend. Sharing songs and stories with little ones is one of the many aspects of this job that I love.

At home I’m mum to two very active mud attracting boys. Life is busy but fun at both work and home and I’m very happy to be a part of the CALA team.

Inverness Team

Mairianne Nairn (Senior Team Leader)

I enjoy many aspects of my role within CALA but nothing beats having fun with all the amazing children and their familes that I meet at baby & toddler groups, army groups, prison family sessions and Dads’ groups to name but a few!

When I’m not at work I am spending time with my own three children. We love to have fun and are outdoors as much as possible and camping whenever we get the chance!

Lisa Davidson (Family Practitioner)

Over the years I have worked in a variety of children’s and adults services. I have recently returned to CALA for a second time and am delighted to be working hands on with so many families. My days are spent having lots of fun, with a mix of arts & crafts, stories & songs and lots of messy play on top! My home life is not much different really. I enjoy spending time with our two boys, playing, exploring and making memories.

Nicki Hutchison (Family Practitioner)

I have worked with children and parents throughout my working life in various different capacities.  I’m passionate about providing lots of opportunities for children to learn, develop and explore the world as they grow and try to make sense of it. 
 
It’s a privilege to be able to provide some of these in the groups I go to and to listen and chat to families about the rollercoaster ride of parenting. Every day is an exciting mix of singing, reading stories, exploring, listening, playing and being messy and creative.  Out of work, I am usually found doing all these things too with my own children and their friends!
 

Samantha Rourke (Family Practitioner)

I joined CALA’s Family Support team in June 2019 covering the Badenoch and Strathspey area, after working as an Early Years Practitioner for 11 years. I love being able to get out and about in the Community, meeting lots of lovely families and I’m passionate about supporting children’s early learning and development. It’s an extremely rewarding job!

I also have 2 children of my own and we have a little shih tzu called George that we love taking out for walks. As well as work and family life, I am also currently in the last year of studying for my BA Childhood Practice degree.

Judith Nott (Family Practitioner)

Working in the highlands with children and their families has to be the perfect work combination and I am delighted and privileged to be part of the CALA team, supporting families and sharing the challenges and joys of parenthood.

My background is in supporting children’s learning and development and I am passionate about how parents can powerfully support these. 

I live in Strathspey with my husband and three children and a menagerie of pets and hens and when I’m not working or being mum, can be found exploring the surrounding forests and hills while trying not to get completely and utterly lost.

Skye, Lochalsh and Wester Ross Team

Louise Gibson (Team Leader)

I have been involved in childcare since 1990 when myself and a group of Mums and Dads helped set up the Toybox Children’s Centre here in Gairloch. Since then I have worked setting up out of school clubs then moved into CALA working with committee led groups before moving to the Family Support Team. I cover a large area from Lochinver to Portree and love seeing children grow and develop. My own two boys are now grown up and living in Inverness. I enjoy reading and working in my garden although the west coast weather limits this a bit! As you can see from the photo I also have cats!

Lochaber Team

Caroline Askew (Team Leader)

Having travelled about a lot and had many interesting and varied jobs I love working with CALA as the Family Support Co ordinator for Lochaber. I support 11 Parent and Toddler Groups in this stunning area. Outdoors is where you will find me in my time off where I love to walk, cycle and chop wood for the stove.

My newest activity is Polytunnel Gardening, so I soon hope to be growing & eating lots of fresh veg. Children all grown up now but I have superb memories of making friends at my own Parent and Toddler Group when they were wee and I am delighted to be able to work with Parents, Babies & Toddlers again.

Language Development

Kasia Kochanawska (Bilingual Coordinator)

I was born in Poland, moved continents twice. First time to USA then second time over to Inverness in UK. This turned out to be the best decision in my life.

Firstly: Here I have met many wonderful people and my fiancé. We are proud parents to our little son who is our joy.

Secondly: I am a lucky woman to have joined CALA in December 2019, although I am at the beginning of my journey, it makes me happy to get up each morning to do this rewarding job.

I am supporting Polish families with babies and toddlers between 0-3 years at Polish Babies and Toddlers Play Groups, especially those families who do not feel confident communicating in English. As a person who moved to USA without any knowledge of English language, I can fully understand problems which they may come a cross.

In Poland, as far as I’m aware Baby and Toddlers groups do not commonly exist, baby massage or BookBug is not offered to Polish parents.

My mission here, is to coordinate help for as many families as I possibly can to give those parents equal opportunities for a good start of their offspring’s in life.

Additionally, part of my job is interpreting at Nurseries or Pre-Schools to aid communications between teachers, parents and children.

In my free time I spend mostly with my son, gardening, playing or family activities and we enjoying seeing him grow.

Riona Whyte  (Gaelic Development Worker)

I joined CALA in May  2019 as Gaelic Parent & Toddler Development Worker supporting groups in Acharacle and Mallaig.

I was born and brought up in the village of Lochaline, Morvern and moved across the water to the island of Mull when I got married nearly 35 years ago!

My husband Reay and I have two grown up children Alasdair and Megan.

I am passionate about all things Gaelic and have worked for various Gaelic organisations including Fèisean nan Gàidheal, An Comunn Gàidhealach and Argyll & Bute Council in Sgoil Àraich and Bun sgoil an t-Sàilein.

In my spare time I tutor two after school clubs and teach Gaelic singing in various schools throughout Lochaber and Mull preparing children for local and National Mòds.   I also conduct Bùrach, a senior Gaelic choir based in my native Morvern.

I was also privileged to be chosen as a member of Còisir Alba who represented Scotland in the Eurovision Choir of the Year competition in Gotherburg in August 2019.

Lewis Laing  (Gaelic Practitioner and Toddler Development Worker)

I’ve been working at CALA as a Gaelic Parent and Toddler Development Worker since August 2019, supporting groups alongside my colleague, Dina Macleod, in the Moray Firth area.

I first started off in the early years sector of Gaelic Medium Education about eight years ago, way back in 2012 at Cròileagan Obar Pheallaidh in the beautiful wee village of Aberfeldy in Highland Perthshire.

When not giving my best rendition of ‘Cuibhlichean a’ bhus’ (Wheels on the bus) at the various parent and toddler groups in area, I’m also kept busy working throughout the week as a freelance translator, twice a week as a language tutor for Highland Council and working as a Rehabilitation Support Volunteer with Chest Hear and Stroke Scotland.

My spare time should very much be taken up with studying at the moment; however having mastered procrastination at a very young age, I ultimately just spend most of the time talking nonsense and having a laugh with family and friends, and occasionally find myself being dragged up some hill, ‘because it’s fun!’.

Murdina Macleod  (Gaelic Practitioner and Toddler Development Worker)

I joined CALA in December 2019 as a Gaelic Parent and Toddler Development Worker, supporting groups in the Moray Firth area.

I was brought up on the Isle of Skye, moving to the Isle of Lewis in 1995.  I am passionate about the benefits of Gaelic and bilingualism.  I have worked in the Early Years sector of Gaelic Medium since 2008, working on the Isle of Lewis and latterly in Dingwall. 

When I am not at work, I love spending time with my family and our Labrador Ruby.

Lisa MacDonald (Gaelic Practitioner and Toddler Development Worker)

I’ve been working for the Gaelic Toddler Project since February 2012. I look after the groups on the north west coast as well as line-managing the team. I love travelling to these distant communities and I value the friendships I make along the way. Every day is different and no two groups are the same, which makes my work exciting and extremely rewarding. It’s wonderful to see the wee ones absorbing the language and being able to support the parents is such an important part of my work.

I enjoy writing and singing, both of which come in handy! Apart from that, I like keeping fit in all sorts of ways eg skiff rowing and weightlifting… anything but the treadmill!

 

Debbie Larnach (Gaelic Practitioner and Toddler Development Worker)

I joined CALA  as a Gaelic Parent Toddler Development Worker in November. I support two lovely toddler groups in the far North of Scotland, one in Thurso and another in Bettyhill. I am very passionate about promoting Gaelic and I am delighted to be able to do it with the wonderful parents and children that come along to these groups.

In my spare time I love road cycling, mountain biking, keeping fit and going to the many beaches here with my three boys and our dog Bonnie