Mary's Blog

I am going to start off with the great news that we have finally got sale agreed on a House in Dundrod for our children’s therapeutic community!

It is a lovely 5-bedroom house but that’s not the main feature – the real attraction is the 5 acres that surround the house complete with wooded gardens, paddocks, plum and apricot trees raspberry and strawberry bushes and to boot a bespoke hen house and outhouses! How lucky are we?

I see a truly wonderful future for this space and know that with the right people in place that this brave new venture of ours will be a resounding success and will be a creative and happy environment for our children.

Our vision is that by the time we get everything in place which is a lot from getting the right staff to work there through to developing a model of practice, policies and procedures and importantly making sure we are RQIA registered that we should be ready to take in children in January of next year. (which really is not that far way!)

In mid-April Myself Sinead, Suzanne and an external supporter Marie McLaughlin (you may know from training) were fortunate and privileged to go on a study trip to Denmark to look at children’s homes and models of practice. Kate and I were successful in applying for funding to Building Change Trust to fund the trip (guys if you want to do the same there are loads of funding opportunities out there it’s up to you to apply – the world is your lobster to use a worn out phrase).

Copenhagen PhotoWe visited five projects around Copenhagen, one was actually on an island and had a zoo attached to it which was open to the public, the children and young people were encouraged to have specific tasks in the zoo. What was the main learning from the trip? The Danish people were lovely, warm and welcoming everywhere we went we were given bountiful supplies of food.

What struck me most about all the homes visited was the high level of theory implemented and a real focus on the children and young people being put first.

There was strong evidence of staff showing love, compassion and care for their kids and a high tolerance for risky behaviour. What was particularly of note was the strong emphasis placed on working with young people’s families and each project had specially designated staff and space working with families – is this an area we could develop???

We came away with a really good model to possibly use in our own therapeutic community so for that the trip was well worth it. We will be writing up main points from the trip shortly and staff can find it on the central server.

We had a fantastic vision day with a high level of attendance which I really appreciate – I won’t go into the details as most of you were there. Myself Kate and Emma will be working on the decision making tool and will have it with all teams in the next few weeks. I will also define for teams what in the MACS context I mean in relation to autonomy, responsibility and accountability. I hope that myself and Kate will be able to get out to team meetings over the next few months to further explore with them the theme of autonomy and new process around decision making.

Vision Day 1 Vision Day 2

Roz and I are traveling to London in May to attend our first meeting with the EYH (Ending Youth Homelessness). This group is an official partnership with other voluntary agencies working to eradicate youth homelessness. You can only get onto this partnership by invite so it’s a real boon to MACS to be invited on.

EyhThe main focus of the group is to fundraise mainly through corporate sponsorship. Roz and Andy (admin) will be leading our first ever sleep out in November, as part of the partnership there is an expectation that each charity will fundraise by doing a sleep out. I will be there with my thermals and hot water bottle!! I hope that you can get your friends and others to join in.

Talking of fundraising – Can I say a very special thank you to Phil Kieran who ran the London Marathon and is also running the Belfast Marathon for to raise money for MACS.

Led by You are applying to Building Change Trust under their Social Innovation scheme for seed funding for their doggie walking exploration/possible social enterprise. So watch this space if you have a dog that needs walking or know of someone who does a MACS young person could be of service to you.

I am no longer praising staff individually in my blogs as I invariably leave some one out and anyway it’s the quite ones who always get overlooked. We did however get some great praise on Twitter this month, so well done everyone!

I would like to say a very fond farewell to Eva who has served MACS so well over the many years. I can only dream of having her composure, calm and serenity – I am alas, a hot blooded bog woman and have often over the years admired Eva’s composure – I know her team, who have a very strong bond and loyalty to her, will miss her a lot, as will other managers and staff who she has helped and impacted on over the years.

Also a big congratulations to Amy Stothers who is now the new Volunteer Coordinator for Wellbeing Service and we welcome this month, Becca our new Support Worker in Lisburn and Matt our new office admin, responsible mainly for our IT needs!


Mary Ryan