To celebrate the end of the year, Young Leaders and Muddy Paws volunteers recently took part in a Zoom Christmas party hosted by Trevor and Maxine. We all enjoyed pizza and a Christmas themed quiz – with prizes of course!
The 2019-2020 Annual Report was released in November 2020. A tremendous effort has gone into the Annual Report – a massive thank you goes to all the young people and staff who shared their stories, and another thank you all for your lovely feedback. You can find a copy of the Annual Report onlineor pick up a copy from a MACS building.
On the 10 September, Caoimhe led a Vision Workshop with Young Leaders to plan for 2021. We decided that our focus for the upcoming year will be on developing our leadership skills, peer mentoring, and undertaking training in areas such as health and social care, mental health and youth work.
Robbie, Led By You’s placement student, also held a vision workshop with young people from Muddy Paws. This resulted in great feedback about what has been working well (everything!) and young people said they would like to see us run more groups within Muddy Paws. As a result, Muddy Paws have been running dog friendly craft sessions to make products to sell such as candles, wax melts, and soaps. To get your hands on one, ring Maxine in Muddy Paws – they would make a fabulous and unique Christmas present.
Trevor was successful in securing another year of funding for Maxine’s salary in Muddy Paws. This news comes as the same time as Maxine was nominated on Social Enterprise NI’s roll of honour for her amazing work with young people throughout COVID-19 – well done Maxine and a huge thank you to Northern Ireland Housing Executive for their support!
We continue to receive new volunteer applications from the community for Muddy Paws. A big welcome goes to our most recent newcomers – Cathy, Christine, Vanja and Nada – who have been a paw-fect fit for Muddy Paws. On 19 November, Muddy Paws volunteers enjoyed attending mentoring training facilitated by both Wellbeing’s Volunteer Coordinator, Amy, and Trevor. It was a great opportunity for Led By You to promote mentoring opportunities in MACS and for potential mentors to become volunteers in Muddy Paws.
Aisling from the Lady Fatima Charitable Trust came to MACS to visit some of the Young Leaders (Eve, David, Mya and Caoimhe) to hear about some of the work we have been doing with the funding received. The Lady Fatima Trust have kindly covered costs such as training, travel, and peer mentoring costs for Young Leaders and we’re really grateful for their support.
Led By You’s Anti-Racism group published an infographic based on the findings of our survey on racism towards young people in Northern Ireland. All survey respondents reported that they have experienced some form of racism and the vast majority felt that society isn’t doing enough to tackle it. The Young Leaders have taken this feedback on board and are now in the process of planning an anti-racism programme for schools – the place where young people are most likely to experience racism. We hope that this programme will challenge young people’s internalised prejudices and give them the tools to stand up to racism whenever they experience or witness it.
Caoimhe and Robbie also carried out a survey to find out how young people have found the support from MACS during the pandemic and what more can MACS do to help. The survey found that loneliness, isolation, significant dips in mental health, and financial worries were the biggest impact of lockdown. The young people also asked that MACS’ staff continue to work with them both virtually and face-to-face. While it’s great to see each other in person, many young people have found meeting with workers on Zoom to be beneficial and they hope that this will continue after the pandemic.
Trevor facilitated a consultation with Young Leaders and other young people across MACS services took part in a consultation with the National Children’s Bureau on developing a new Mental Health Charter for young people. A stark piece of feedback was that young people feel they often aren’t seen as being “suicidal enough” or in enough distress to be taken seriously. This has been fed back to the National Children’s Bureau and will lead to changes in how mental health services are run – thank you to everyone who took part.
Our Young Leader meetings continue to happen on Thursday evenings over Zoom. There is a buzz amongst the community and voluntary sector about the MACS approach to Participation – so much so that Princes Trust heard about our work and invited Led By You along to do a masterclass. Trevor and Dean shared knowledge on how to set up and run a youth led advisory panel through a presentation to Princes Trust Board members, staff and young people involved in the service. This was very well received and Young Leaders will be working with the young people in Princes Trust to help support young people develop their own style of young leader meetings.
Since the last blog, sadly we’ve had to say goodbye to Caoimhe and Robbie. Caoimhe’s Time to Shine post has come to end and she has achieved so much in her time with us – the time has truly flown by! We wish her every success moving forward and we are truly grateful to the Rank Foundation and The Big Lottery for the opportunity to give a Young Leader a paid post. Watch this space – we will be definitely be applying again in the future.
Robbie, another of our Youth and Community Work students, has also successfully completed his placement in Led By You. We now have another final year student, Liam, who began working with us towards the end of the year and is going to have a very busy January whilst in Led By You. Of course, Young Leaders will also help and support him to deliver Isom8, service reviews, 1-to-1 and group work in Muddy Paws, and (if COVID-19 allows it) Housing. Students continue to be a really valuable asset to the asset and Trevor is continually developing opportunities for youth and community work student placements as well as work experience opportunities within Muddy Paws and Led By You.
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Young Leaders, young people, staff and volunteers in Led By You and MACS Muddy Paws,