Mary's Blog

Our young people are fantastic! Listen to this…

Picture 1Ryan in Uni St. Housing completed the sailing trips with the Tall Ships – he got amazing feedback from the Master of the Tall Ship Pelican, who said “Whilst Ryan was with the Tall Ships I found him to be exceptionally well mannered and polite, never afraid to take on new tasks and always at hand to help new trainees encouraging them to find their feet”. Ryan has also expressed a keen interest in becoming a mentor and this is being actively supported by the master of the Tall ships.

Picture 2One of our young people Jake, has been chosen to represent Northern Ireland in the Homeless World Cup. Jake has been ably supported by his mentor Chris over the last year to attend the Friday night football sessions in preparation for winning his place on the team, during these sessions he caught the eye of the scouts who were impressed by his commitment and football skills. Jake will be heading to Mexico in November to the Homeless World Cup and will be competing against 47 other countries with over 500 players! Good Luck Jake!

Natasha in Newry managed against all the odds to get a lovely new home in August, just in time to be ready to go back to college to complete year 2 of her Art Diploma.

The last few months have been brilliant for MACS, everyone has been amazingly productive and really working hard, Both in their direct practice with children and young people, and in being imaginative about how we can innovate and grow this organisation so that we reach more children and young people in need. Here is just a small flavour of the fantastic things happening in MACS…

So we made it! After months of research and study visits our new therapeutic community for children is nearly here.

We finally got the keys to our lovely new home in Dundrod. Can I take this opportunity to thank all the staff who were on the social innovation project way back in shaping and honing our initial vision for something that will be ground-breaking in the North of Ireland!

Macs House

I don’t think we would have come this far without the support of staff and young people who were involved in this group – their energy and passion for this new service was infectious and invigorating. Sinéad and myself are currently recruiting staff for the house. Not only has the response been overwhelmingly positive, but the calibre of people we have interviewed has been outstanding.

We have a save the date pencilled in for grand opening in Jan/Feb – However, if you want to go and have a look at the house with your young people – contact Claire or Andy who have the keys – we have five acres of beautiful grounds so if nothing else it’s a lovely walk around!

And Muddy Paws is nearly here!

Thanks to the sterling work of Trevor, Emma and Claire we have secured funding and premises for a social enterprise to do doggie walking and a wash, with the longer plan to do grooming. We are looking for volunteers to walk a dog with a young person. Already we have 15 volunteers who have expressed an interest in helping out with this new venture. Muddy Paws

You are probably aware that Sinead is now taking over the lead on all things Children’s Therapeutic Community and Suz is now the lead for all Housing and Floating support.

Can I take this opportunity to thank Sinead for all the hard work and commitment she has shown over the years to Housing and Floating Support and I know she will be genuinely missed by all the people she worked alongside. However, I am really confident that Suz will do an excellent job in shaping and developing the future for MACS Housing, Floating Support and Wellbeing.

Can I have a big shout out for Amanda who is an unsung hero in relation to developing our wonderful schools programme!

She hasBee Well gone from strength to strength in pulling together a really engaging and meaningful programme around mental health for children and young people. Feedback from the schools she has worked in has been over flowing with praise for her commitment, style of work and its content but more importantly on how she engages with and hooks the children and young people in.  Attendance at her groups is 100% – and no it’s not because the kids want to get out of regular class!

Investors In People Gold AwardIt was touch and go whether we would get there but I am really proud to announce that we have been awarded Gold Standard for Investing In People!  Congratulations to all MACS staff for achieving this – you are a credit to this organisation.  Can I say special thanks to all those who participated in the interviews with the assessor Tom and to Emma, who is the back bone in relation to getting this award.

Investing In VolunteersWe were also reaccredited for Investors in Volunteers.  Both the assessors were glowing in their praise for the obvious commitment of staff but also in the vision and restless spirit that we portray in always striving to do better and learn for the mistakes we make.

The Belfast Sleep Out on 15 September is now shaping up nicely.

End Youth HomelessnessMACS are, as you know, the Northern Ireland partner for EYH (Ending Youth Homelessness). Roz, Carla and other staff are going great guns and have secured a venue at S13 (over at was the old B&Q site on Boucher Rd) and the evening whilst tough for those who will be sleeping out all night, is by all accounts to be great craic with music, song and strangely – wrestling I am told!  Tell your friends and anyone else you meet about this – and here is hoping that our very first bash at doing such an event will be a great success. Also big cheer for Becca in Lisburn Housing, who as part of the Belfast Sleep Out, is organising a fundraiser in her local pub on the 5 October.

We have recruited 4 new Board members and a Board Room Apprentice.
They are Paula, Vicky, Joanna, Ligouri (apprentice) and our own Robyn from Led by You.  All our new members bring a richness and strong knowledge base in terms of finance, fundraising, techy stuff, strategic management and of course the direct voice of young people through Robyn up to Board level.

Point to ponder

Picture 9I was reading an article by the rapper Loki recently, real name is Darren McGarvey, who has written a book Poverty Safari. The book sounds really good and Darren himself came from a back ground of utter poverty and was exposed to extreme violence abuse and neglect from the people who were meant to care for him. Here is an extract from the article which I thought was very poignant;

A systemic analysis does not account for the subtleties of poverty at ground level; the link between false belief and self-defeating action that keeps so many of us trapped in a spin cycle of stress and thoughtless consumption. A new leftism that is not only about advocating radical change, but also about taking ownership of as many of our problems as we can, so we may begin rebuilding the depleted human capacity in our poorest communities.

I suppose what he is essentially saying, I think is, that even though the capitalist system does nothing for the poor, despite having bad relatives who crushed your very spirit, attending a rubbish school, being failed by a social care system that sometimes believed you were bad and beyond redemption and burdened by harsh poverty – that despite all this adversity, if you have inner belief in yourself and face up to standing by the decisions and choices you make and not blaming others, then you will overcome the crappy hand you were dealt.

Of course all this demands huge amounts of love and support from the communities we live in. I am going to order the book for the office and why don’t you guys think about ordering for the various services?

Finally, we now have two corporate partners – hooray!

They are Bryson Recycling and Shoosmith Solicitors.  We have been nominated as their charity of the year which was completely unsolicited and very much appreciated!

WebPicture 10

And one last special shout out to Aine, who I am told regularly reads my blog!

Mary Ryan