Mary's Blog

Hi folks! I’m back from taking a Blog-break in August!

This month there have been some tremendous stories of our young people making great strides in their lives. And here is a flavour of what they have achieved.

Her worker Laura stated “it is a total tribute to her own self-determination that she has succeeded”

Eve in Downpatrick is starting in Liverpool to undertake a Foundation Degree in Travel and Tourism.

Also in Downpatrick, Eugene, who has been looking for work for ages, finally had some good luck and with great tenacity, made his way from Newcastle (Co Down) to Newtownards at 7 in the morning to complete his SERC course in Construction. He is now completing a work trial which hopefully will lead to a full time job. Rebecca from Wellbeing, who, incidentally, just walked in to MACS Ormeau Office as a self-referral one day 18 months ago, is now going to study Architecture at the University of Kent. And to help her on her way Victoria Homes gave her £2,500 to aid her with very costly art and IT supplies for her course. Thanks must also go to our IT whizz Chris for sourcing and setting up a laptop for Rebecca.

img_3731 Young People across MACS services have been engaging in 4 creative workshops, and came up with the idea of raising awareness of youth homelessness at Culture Night Belfast. The name of the project was called the BIG HANDOUT and our young people were there on the night of 16th Sept, promoting and engaging with the public on youth homelessness. They had come up with some very creative ideas and had subverted the whole theme of begging for money by giving away chocolate coins!
MACS Singers at Culture Night 2016 - 7

MACS Singers were definitely looking very pink and MACS’ish on Culture Night. They were in fine voice, and ruling the world, according to their uplifting version of the Take That song by the same name. You can catch clips of them on our Facebook page.

We were up bright and early to lend our presence to the Dawn Walk, taking place in remembrance of all those people who have died as a result of suicide. We convened at Uni St, and it was a dusky start to the day at 6.30 in the morning. Accompanying Scott and Aoife, were 6 young people from MACS – Simon, Brenna, Zac, Stephen, Robert and Nathan, all lending their solidarity to families who have lost loved ones. The ceremony at Belfast City Hall was moving and poignant, with poetry and song. And after the very emotional tributes, we were invited into the City Hall by the Lord Mayor for hot cups of tea and coffee and much welcomed bacon sarnies.

I love to see new people starting in MACS, and also love seeing our current staff making moves around the Org, showing how they’ve grown and progressed in their roles, ready for new, bigger challenges.

It’s been a busy time for recruiting new staff, and also for existing staff moving about the Org. This month we welcome Brenda to Downpatrick Floating Support, Erin to Lisburn Floating Support, Conor (Maguire) to the Uni Street Support Worker team, and (another! That’s 3!) Conor (McGinley) to the Newry Support Worker Team. We bid a temporary farewell to Alison and Sarah (Dynes) who have gone on maternity leave, and we welcome back Roz from maternity leave at the beginning of October. Well done to Laura and Andy who have moved from Support night staff into Floating Support maternity posts in Downpatrick, and congratulations to Charlene who is taking up a maternity managers post in Belfast Floating Support and to Lynda who got the Team Leader post vacated by Charlene, in Downpatrick!

Point to ponder…..

In the June blog I mentioned how Mark and Roseanne had showed tons of resilience and staying power in working to advocate for a young person in Uni St. (They did not give up and despite a poor prognosis, succeeded in changing dramatically this young person’s life circumstances). This got me thinking about the times when I have kept plugging away at something despite the odds being against me, and also then when I have given up and failed – it’s just been too much.

For me, when I have – so to speak – acted like a ”dog with a bone” and not given up, there are a number of factors at play. Namely, I have right on my side, I feel it is a justice issue, I have support around me to keep going, I know what I am doing – and have all the information, facts etc to support my case. Conversely when I have given up, its been mainly to do with not garnering enough support around me, and not being totally confident in the case I want to present – ask yourself – when do you feel like giving up? This of course is an important question for us all to understand, no more so as the impending welfare cuts will see us all positioning ourselves into a more advocacy-based role. Are we up to the challenge? What support do you need in order to advocate effectively for our young people?

Finally, a huge big WOW to Sarah and the Wellbeing Team who were successful in winning a Big Lottery Fund grant application which allows the service to expand considerably in relation to volunteering input.

And now really finally – Yvonne, our wonderful manager of Uni St, found this lovely quote which I had got all jumbled up and fumbled to recollect to the Lord Mayor’s wife at the Dawn Walk! And which could apply to us all, at points in our lives.

“The children who need the most love will ask for it in the most unloving ways”
by Dr Russel Barkely