Led by You Blog

Hi all, Eve here!
Happy 2020 and what better way to ring in the new decade than with a blog post?

Young Leaders, volunteers and young people from Muddy Paws said goodbye to 2019 with a joint Christmas dinner. We came together to have a lush dinner in Darcy’s – just a little something to say thank you everyone for all their hard work.

Young Leader Dinner
From left: Kat B, Trevor, Will, Mya, Robyn, Jenny, Homeira and Curtis
On a more serious note, there are 11,000 young people in Northern Ireland who are homeless. The Sleep Out aims to raise awareness of youth homelessness and to raise funds to end it.

On a chilly November night, one of our young leaders, Robyn, along with workers and young people from MACS braved the cold in Victoria Park for the 2019 Sleep Out – I hope there were no snorers.

Young Leaders held a Participation Forum in Belfast Housing in September. Young people from across MACS’ services joined us to share what participation means to them, what they would like to see and what they think Led By You should look like. Separately, Trevor led a vision workshop with the young leaders to decide what Participation will look like going forward. We took both of these events on board in our new participation strategy. We’ve pledged to take on more responsibility, engage more with MACS services and to work on our personal development. We are currently coming up with our action plan for the next twelve months – exciting times!

We have big ambitions, and with big ambitions come big funding goals.

Since I last wrote, we’ve received money from Lady Fatima Trust to enable us young leaders to do training. We’re upskilling with plans to train in youth work with Youth Action. This way we’ll be able to give MACS’ workers a run for their money. The Enkalon Foundation and Ormeau Credit Union have also generously donated money to MACS. Shed Bistro also kindly raised £750 in yet another example of a local business supporting a local charity. It’s heart-warming to see how much support MACS gets from the local community.

Shed Belfast Donation
Caoimhe & Andy collecting the cheque from the staff at Shed Bistro

Mark just finished his placement in Led By You and is on his way to a 1st class honours in youth and community work. In February, another student Jack will be joining MACS on placement. In addition to this we have two students, Rebecca and Lauren, in Muddy Paws doing work experience who have been with us since September. It’s great to see another strand to participation developing through training and education. A huge thank you to all who completed the participation survey Mark did as part of his presentation. It raised a lot of interesting insights and this information will be fed back to the working group that are forming the vision statement, alongside the feedback from Young Leaders Vision Day and service reviews to help shape participation in MACS.

In November, I got to spend my first day volunteering at Muddy Paws. I must admit, my arms were aching the next day – it’s a ruff life, but it was all worth it for the happy dogs. ??‍?

From left, say hello to myself (Eve) & poppy, Mya & Max who has been doing work experience with Muddy Paws since September, Kat & Guinness (who has volunteered since May 2019) & Lauren who has volunteered since June 2019.

Recently MACS held its Big Get Together in W5, with the key theme being what we’re proud of. I’m proud of Caoimhe, who recently stepped into the role of Time To Shine Leader. Here’s what she has to say about it –

Caoimhe Time 2 Shine Leader in Led By You. I was delighted to be chosen as MACS’ first Time to Shine Leader after they secured funding from Rank Foundation and Big Lottery Community Fund. My post is 12 months and I will be working across all services: increasing participation, getting feedback from young people to shape the service and creating action plans to help improve the organization and make it more enjoyable for the young people. I started my post on 6 January and have been warmly welcomed. After my first week, I travelled to Morecambe for a Time to Shine conference. There, I met many amazing leaders and organisations from across the UK. I attended numerous training sessions based around confidence and your mind-set where I learnt a lot about myself and those I will be working with. After the conference I feel more excited and inspired than ever to make as much of a positive impact as possible this year and to see what the future has in store!

How inspirational! Caoimhe and I have been working on a funding application for Awards For All. From this we hope to get a grant that will allow us to hold a workshop with young people. We don’t know exactly what this will look like yet, but we’re thinking about doing a blogging workshop that will help young people to develop digital skills and awareness of cyber security. How does that sound?

On 22 January, MACS Muddy Paws had its first open day. It was a resounding success with Maxine, young people and volunteers doing us proud. Over fifty people came, including lots of stakeholders who were blown away by the fabulous work that takes place at Muddy Paws. Twitter came alive with tweets about how fantastic the event was – including the head of Children in Northern Ireland who has subsequently booked her dog in. A round of appaws for everyone involved and a MASSIVE thank you to all of the local community, stakeholders and staff who also came along to support on the day.

Muddy Paws Open Day Jan 2020
Maxine Muddy Paws Worker
Maxine, Muddy Paws Worker

Maxine, our new Muddy Paws worker, must have arms of steel. She started in November, meaning that Muddy Paws can open more regularly.

Another paws-itive development in Muddy Paws is the Enactus group from Queen’s University who are joining us to develop a product for Muddy Paws. I could say MACS have some great entre-paw- neurs.

In December, Muddy Paws were part of an Arts for All event. We provided brush outs and a splash of doggy perfume to the dogs who were there. The doggy fashion show was fantastic and we were glad to help get them runway ready! We received a grant for £1,400 from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive Social Enterprise team to buy more equipment for Muddy Paws, including an electric table. That ought to save people’s backs! Another huge thanks goes to Werewolf Dog Food Company who are Muddy Paws first corporate fundraiser. Not only have they given us free food samples to use with dogs, but are also kindly donating £1 of every box sold to MACS Muddy Paws.

Werewolf Food
Rodd Hogg Magician
Rodd Hogg, Magician

This was the first year our new volunteers went to the Big Together and they were blown away – as was Maxine. Well done to everyone involved in organising it, especially Amy (Volunteer Coordinator). We know it takes a lot of work to pull together and both the Young Leaders and volunteers from Muddy Paws were suitably impressed! Just look at how Kat and Cillian from Muddy Paws and Led By You are enthralled by the magician!

With new years come new beginnings, and we’re looking for new young leaders to join Led By You. If you’d like to help shape participation for young people in MACS in 2020, have a chat with any young leader or Trevor – the more the merrier.

Bye for now!