A week later and I’ve calmed down a bit now.
I’ve found it rather hard to judge whether our Macc to the Future event last week was a success. People have said great things about it but my memory of the day is one of rushing about: when I wasn’t speaking to an audience I was catching quick conversations with people some of whom I knew and some I didn’t. Still, that's a good sign.
I delighted with the speakers we had at the start of the day. Councillor Sue Murphy (Deputy Leader of the City Council) made a great start by saying how proud the Council is of the local sector. With over 3,000 voluntary and community groups, we’re an essential part of the city and Cllr. Murphy reaffirmed the Council’s commitment to support the sector despite the challenge of the massive cuts to public budgets.
Debbie Dalby (Chair of Voluntary Sector Northwest) gave an inspirational speech starting from a bleak view of towns dying in front of our eyes, losing much-loved groups, services. She started off a theme which ran through the rest of the day: the fact that we’re all angry but we must use that to do something about what is happening to our communities. She encouraged us to be hopeful, collaborate, focus on what we need and how we use resources, keeping an eye on the long term. From where I was sitting, I could see a lot of the audience nodding as Debbie’s words struck home.
Following on from a North West perspective, Alex Whinnom (GMCVO) focused on Greater Manchester and Manchester’s role as the heart of the sub-region’s economy. He talked about GMCVO’s work to support the development of voluntary effort in all boroughs and their focus on enabling local voices to be heard in the new political structures being developed at the Greater Manchester level. Alex stressed the need for a strong working relationship between GMCVO and Macc in tackling issues such as poverty and unlocking assets in local communities.
Following these three speakers was no easy task but I was lucky in that my job was simply to tell everyone about all the things my colleagues at Macc do to help and support the local sector and why we believe it’s important. It was a proud moment for me to be able to show how we’ve built on Macc’s history and take the opportunity offered by the City Council to put in place a Volunteer Centre, support around commissioning, work on equalities and community engagement and to develop a new Assembly for local voluntary and community groups.
You never get everything right at an event like this: it seems most people would have liked the workshops to go on longer but that in itself tells me that people found the sessions useful and wanted more. There were a few glitches: the moment when I was trying to put the twitter wall back on the projection screen only to find it had diverted to a rather different website is one that will stay with me for a while! Those are minor details on the whole: I'm really proud of the huge amount of work done by the Macc team and colleagues from partner organisations to pull together a fantastic range of activities and information which saw 83 people join us for the day, taking part in workshops and a wide range of discussions. The event marked the start of a new era for us, not just with things like our new branding and publicity, our expanded websites and extra services, but a shift in the role Macc plays in the city, what we do and how we work.
So, a success? I certainly think it was but ultimately it’s for you to tell us. Looking through the feedback on the evaluation forms people were clearly happy not just with the event but also with what they heard about Macc’s development, the range of support we offer and the role we play. I guess the comment which struck me most was the person who said they could now see ‘how much work Macc does and where it fits in’. That was exactly the ambition we had for the day and I was especially please to see that comment from someone who’d not been aware of Macc before.
Here are some of the photos taken on the day. A few of them are of me. You have been warned.
And here is the video made by our newly trained Community Reporters