Mary's Blog

Any chance we will see an end to the winter!? At least the days are stretching which is great to see – is spring around the corner?  Well, in MACS it’s all go and very spring like with loads happening and lots of growth and rejuvenation.

Can I start off by welcoming Adele to Downpatrick Housing and Richard to Downpatrick Floating Support.  And glad to see that Charlene in DP Housing and Brenda in DP Floating Support have two new little arrivals, mum and babies all doing well I hear.

We say fond farewells to Christine in Lisburn Housing, Scott in Wellbeing and Kathy in DP Housing – I hope their new ventures work out for them and wish them all the best of luck.

Well done to Amy who is now our new team leader in Wellbeing – she is going to be brill as I know her to be full of energy and great ideas and if she can’t pull in more volunteers to the organisation then I don’t know who possibly could!  Also well done to Stacy who took up a maternity team leader post in DP Housing, I know Stacy to have a steely determination, a no nonsense approach but also has huge ability to build rapport with our young people.

Exciting news – MACS Board have made the decision that we can now progress to buying a house for our therapeutic community.

Exciting news – MACS Board have made the decision that we can now progress to buying a house for our therapeutic community. We had a comprehensive discussion and I would like to praise our Board for their wisdom, thoroughness and willingness to try something. Whilst it carries risk, they were able to see clearly how ground breaking and new this venture is in the North.  So the house hunting begins in earnest and I will keep you posted when we get something – there will be whoops of joy!

Shannon (youth work student in Led by You) organised a MACS talk back in January with our young people meeting MLA’s.  It must have been one of the coldest days of the year with server weather warnings for snow and ice, despite this Led by You managed to have 15 young people in attendance ready to question the three ministers.  Questions ranged from housing to benefits to mental health and our young people presented themselves with confidence and respect.  I know that Trevor has sent out a list of actions on the back of the talk back so maybe you can give him support if he calls on you to assist in making the actions live.

Led by You are also busy participating on the Social Innovation Programme with help from Suz and Emma.  This is a tremendous opportunity for MACS and it is the second time that we have got on this programme which is unheard of. They are working on a social enterprise that will have something to do with dogs.  A survey has gone out to all our young people to find out what they would like to do along this theme – so please encourage your young people to complete the survey as the more responses we have the better vantage point we have in relation setting up something that really fits with our young people want to do.

And yes it’s that time of year again – Annual Report – the young leaders are beavering away on discussing what kind of theme they want to go with – I won’t let the cat out of the bag but its lovely!  This year for the first time they have full editorial rights – wield your power thoughtfully.

In Downpatrick, we have our first community move on house from supported accommodation. This is brilliant and has culminated in a lovely house due to the tireless efforts of staff in DP who have worked hard to furnish the house to a high standard.

In Belfast, Uni St and Floating Support have been really busy in a series of consultations in coming up with ideas on how the service can be integrated. This of course makes perfect sense as young people leaving Supported Housing should know the workers in Floating Support so that the transition from one service to the next is seamless and easy for the young person. I believe at this stage we are at the point of assessing how the two teams squeeze into a tight office space and I know the staff and managers are coming up with some creative solutions.

Also, Belfast Floating Support are exploring the idea with Clanmil Housing association of mixing our young people in with an older age group – post 60 scheme.  Now of course this won’t suit a lot of our young people but there are some of our young people who could greatly benefit from living in such an environment and could also give back a lot in terms of being good craic, good for doing the odd message and interesting company.

In Lisburn I really loved what they are doing in focusing on how accomplishing little things can really add up and improve self-confidence and self-esteem. They sent me the simple but lovely example of making your bed (oh if I only could – I do have ambitions in this direction). If you just do one simple task like making your bed well even if the day has been rubbish, at least you have a beautifully made bed.

Often we put too much attention on achieving the big things and forget that its building on the small insignificant tasks that are the ground work to achieving more.

You may be aware that we are currently working on a housing video in partnership with GIGA studios. There have been some great heart-warming stories told so far from young people in how supported housing has helped them, not only that but possibly more importantly the friendships with other young people that have been built. I look forward to seeing the finished product over the next few months.

Wellbeing are continuing to build on the success of previous beat the blues groups. Their latest outing to bowling had 20 young people attending.  Also Wellbeing got lovely comments from Big Lottery funder who attended their Aspire group.  He was much taken aback with the maturity and energy of the group.

And again there are inspirational stories of young people going places.  Aron in Newry wanted to get fit.  He joined a gym with Linda and is definitely pushing her to her limit.  He has also joined the local rugby team. Kathy our stalwart in Led by You was awarded certificate of excellence in training under the Gerry Conway Awards Scheme, Western Trust.  I know Kathy and honestly you could not meet a lovelier young woman, she commits herself 100% to anything she signs up for and is a real inspiration to her peers in how she conducts herself at meetings.  She is warm enthusiastic and open to people she meets and is a great person to sit beside if you are new to a group and feeling ill at ease.

Darine attend the CIH AwardsAnd lastly, can I give a big shout out to Dairine in Newry Housing who as I write this is getting ready with Newry staff to head off to the awards ceremony for best story in the Chattered Institute Housing Awards.

Fingers and toes crossed for tonight!

Mary Ryan