Mary's Blog

This month is full praise to MACS staff.  I firstly want to start with Laura Cooke in Downpatrick who so kindly provided a scrumptious meal for our Norwegian visitors.

The Social Pedagogues were coming to do at workshop at MACS conference and were not arriving in until late the night before, so Laura with true Irish hospitality offered the cooking skills of her husband to put on a lovely food, welcome and comfort for these weary travellers. They were most impressed with this kind gesture and truly Laura went over and beyond the call of duty.

MACS stand at conferenceWell the MACS Conference has come and gone – I must say my nerves were slightly frayed coming up to the event as this is the first time we have ever ventured into the world of the “organised conference”.  Despite my anxiety I was able to enjoy the day and what struck me most was the amount of people from different sectors who attended – the conference room was packed, and the atmosphere was really warm, positive and encouraging – people were there to truly find out about new interventions and what the potential for buying together could look like.

Carla Rollock was brilliant at getting such a massive turn out and organising the event. Over the next few weeks, she will be collating what the appetite for buying together is.

Conference delegatesDrum Circle

Can I thank the conference group (Claire Wright, Sinead Cassidy, Claire Sweeney and Emma McGinnity) who were really hands on throughout the process and were brilliant on the day. A special word of thanks goes to Kate for coming up with idea of showcasing interventions, Jules and Roisin in finance who were really helpful with invoicing and delegate lists and Sinead who came to the aid of Cara from GRIT getting her to the airport when the taxi didn’t show up.

Mark McQuillan (again) was singled out for praise by Yvonne and Suzanne complementing him in how well he was leading and managing in Belfast Housing.

Sinead and Suz asked me to give praise to Jules and Roisin in finance who are doing a sterling job in keeping both org finances and project budgets on track.  I work beside them and I can truly attest that they are eager beavers and always seem to put work before chit chat – amazing!

Of course in any organisation there are the unsung heroes who quietly get on with their work and never get a mention in my blog.  So this month I would like to especially praise Hannah in Floating Support Belfast.  This is what other staff have said about her:

She is totally committed and will go beyond the extra mile for her young people. Hannah knows so much about the job – she is a font of knowledge. Hannah is so helpful she made my first few weeks in MACS manageable. I knew I could go to her for anything and she went out of her way to help me. Hannah is funny and kind and is the back bone of floating support Belfast, she is a constant re affirming presence.

You may be aware that a small group of staff (championed by Sinead) are piloting doing something different in how we set up files and write about our young people. Ian, Sarah Dynes and Andy are currently our trail blazers and the snippets I am getting about how they would like to redesign the files is really exciting, they are looking at how files are more visual, accessible and make more sense to the young person.  So watch this space the oddity of writing about our young people may be in some way coming to an end.

children in need

Breaking news – we have got through to the 2nd round of the BBC Children in Need application process.  Well done to Sarah and the Wellbeing Team.

Also congratulations to Scott who presented a very thorough plan for volunteering to our Board of Directors in October.  Whilst the Board are a lovely and welcoming group, it can be a daunting prospect presenting to them but Scott presented with calm, enthusiasm and energy for progressing volunteers in all parts of the organisation.

Wellbeing also led the way in getting a group of our young people to take part in the official opening of Inspire – mental health charity.  I hear that both Charley, Emma, Robyn and Carrie from MACS who attended were a real credit to our organisation.  Even though some of them were a little, ahem, star struck by the Duke of Cambridge – they were able to speak with passion about the concerns and issues of young people facing poor mental health.

Macs Young People meet Prince William Duke of Cambridge - photo by Press Eye

Well done again to Wellbeing, who were nominated by two schools they work in for fundraising in relation to non-uniform day.

The Wellbeing team faced the pain of coping after one of their young people’s life tragically ended. The team were highly compassionate towards each other and our volunteer who worked directly with Reese, showed high levels of resilience and empathy in the face of such overwhelming grief.

Downpatrick Housing Supporting People

Downpatrick Housing hosted a Supporting People campaign this month. The turn out from counsellors, staff, young people and other stakeholders was fantastic. Of course the stars of the show were Dillon and other young people who talked so positively about living in Downpatrick Housing and the great support they got from MACS workers. (I believe there was not a dry eye in the house!)

And finally, we are indoctrinating our own children into the MACS ways. Yvonne in Belfast Housing has a fabulous daughter Nicole who lobbied her school’s committee to nominate MACS as their chosen charity and she was successful! I know if my daughter had the thought, patience and determination to do something so kind, I would be bursting with pride.

Couch to 5k

Mark Mailey and young person Michael from Belfast Housing are doing couch to 5K together. This is social pedagogy truly in action and I hope it does not take you too much out of your comfort zone Mark!

Martin mini marathon

And really finally, well done to Martin (Jules’ partner) who completed a fundraising mini marathon for MACS.  I have the greatest respect for anyone who can run more than the length of themselves and doing it for MACS is so generous and giving.

And I nearly forgot – For the third time in a row MACS has won the Employers for Child Care – Family Friendly Employer!! This is a brilliant achievement and is testament to MACS flexible approach to staff and the supportive environment we provide for each other.

Charity Social Enterprise Winner MACS N Family Friendly awards Employer for Childcare - the award
It’s been a truly fabulous and invigorating month for MACS and heartfelt thanks to All MACS staff who make this organisation such a wonderful place to work in and be part of.


Mary Ryan