Just in case you didn’t know – we won the Family Friendly Employer Award with Employers for Child Care!

EFCC Awards 2016 6I am mentioning this because MACS, as winners, were invited to a workshop at the beginning of the month to give a presentation on what policies & procedures we have in place that are family friendly etc. Well, neither myself nor Emma could do the presentation and at the last minute dot com Nick filled the breach – so to speak – and did a wonderful presentation for MACS – a fine orator he is (I think we have a budding talent) & feedback was excellent. I won’t be surprised if he’s called upon again!

The Wellbeing Service submitted their 2nd stage application to Big Lotto on 10th March so it’s the proverbial fingers and toes crossed – we now have a bit of a wait, possibly until June.

Emma and I completed the Belfast Telegraph application for Business Awards under the Management & Leadership section – it’s probably a long shot that we will get anywhere on our first try – but wouldn’t it be fab if we were even shortlisted, never mind winning. We will also be putting in an application to the Irish News also – I hope I am not becoming an award junkie!! But isn’t it about time we stopped hiding our light under a bushel, and started shouting about all the great work that goes on at MACS?!

But isn’t it about time we stopped hiding our light under a bushel, and started shouting about all the great work that goes on at MACS?!

We’ve had two really great Approach to Practice days so far this year. One with Housing, and the other with Floating Support. Engagement with staff on both days was really strong, and there was lots of lively discussion and food for thought. In particular, the focus on reflective practice, making mistakes, and taking risks proved to provoke a lot of impassioned debate, in a real spirit of ‘learning together’ rather than ‘I am right and you are wrong’.

We say farewell to Joanne in finance this month, and personally, I will miss her as she always gave of her best, and by the time of her leaving had a really good grasp of MACS finances! Jules, I know that you and I will be able to keep the show on the road until Roz gets back! And can I welcome Kieran to Belfast Housing – I hope you know you are where there will be never a dull moment!

A big well done to our Shadow Board who, throughout the year ably led by Trevor and Participate Now, completed some serious pieces of work in relation to the Annual Report and Service Reviews. We will be recruiting for new members for the Shadow Board in April so please start thinking about potential Young Leaders that you work with, and encourage them to join/ come for an interview. At the risk of sounding boring – the Shadow Board won’t work unless we are all behind it – so come on let’s get our Young People fully engaged in shaping the services we provide for them.

I had the pleasure of attending the MACS Choir, with new choir master Iain. He is an absolute marvel, and if you were at the pub quiz organised by the Choir a few weeks back you would know what a ball of energy he is. I know that the Choir are hopefully planning to do a series of fundraisers for MACS throughout the year, so if you can and it’s not too much of a hassle please support them. I think it’s great that our Volunteers all over MACS give so generously of their time – I hope you, as Volunteers, know that MACS staff really do appreciate you.

On the fundraising front you may have heard that MACS’ house in Ballycastle has been newly refurbished, organised by Madeline, and is now ready for holiday letting so spread the word – a lovely house to rent in the spectacular surrounds of the Glens of Antrim.

Externally – you may know of Access to All Areas (AAA) which was an English lobbying group led by Barnardos initially (set up to champion greater rights for care leavers). Well, this group is now established in NI and MACS are part of it. It’s really important that we play our role in this vital lobbying group and I will keep you posted on developments. It’s very early days yet, but at least the group is established and we are part of the steering group which will hopefully keep progress on track and moving forward.

And lastly – but by no means least – Sarah in Wellbeing is through to her last stages in relation to long term fostering (she has given me permission to share this good news). I think that what she is doing is fantastic and considering that the work we do at MACS can be challenging and stressful, taking on the further challenge of fostering humbles me – well done Sarah you are truly doing something remarkable!