I've finally got a blog of my own! Of course the immediate problem is what insightful and entertaining pearls of wisdom I should try to create for my first post.
One question I get asked a lot is "What does ‘MACC’ stand for?” And I usually reply by starting to talk about values until it dawns on me that they're actually just asking about the acronym M.A.C.C.
My usual reply was that it stands for ‘Manchester Alliance for Community Care’. Like most acronyms, it tends to leave people not much wiser so I'd have to explain that Manchester Alliance for Community Care started in 1981 as literally a group of organisations which got together to campaign for changes to the way health and social care was provided and to explain that describing the organisation as an ‘Alliance’ doesn't mean a cluster of angry people with placards nor a consortium of charities. Sometimes people would comment that the Community Care Act was passed in 1990 and the term ‘community care’ itself is very dated. And I'd laugh and agree but remind them that the principles of holistic user-led approaches and non-institutional settings are still very important and much wider than just health services. Which is what Macc still believes ...but there's more to it than that. We've always worked on other issues besides health and social care because we've always taken the widest view of health: Macc's role has constantly adapted to the world around us.
In fact, nowadays, even saying 'Manchester' isn't enough. Sometimes it means 'Greater Manchester'. I'm increasingly finding myself saying 'city of Manchester' just to make it clear.
So we’ve decided to be known simply as ‘Macc’. It's been our nickname for a very long time, after all.
To explain what Macc is nowadays, we've come up with what's hopefully a clear simple description for the organisation: Macc is Manchester's local voluntary and community sector support organisation. Our job is to support the efforts of charities, voluntary organisations and community groups in the city of Manchester. To take on this new role, Macc's grown as an organisation at a time when others have faced major cuts: but our own work talking to local groups has been told us that the patchy 'infrastructure' in Manchester needed to be improved: a process we began in 2010 with the launch of Manchester Community Central. I hope we're already proving that the extra investment in Macc is worth it - I'm always very aware that money spent on Macc could be spent elsewhere but that just makes me more determined to show the value of what we do. Here's some headlines from our recent work
- Our Volunteer Centre has just registered its 1000th person wishing to find volunteer opportunities.
- We've helped local groups bring in additional funds to support their work (over £1million from the Lottery alone!).
- We've developed tools around safeguarding and child protection and delivered training on how to use them.
- We're working with partners to develop new support such as help with online giving, CRB checks and support in sharing resources.
- We're continuing to seek to influence public services, decision making and commissioning of a whole range of services from mental health through to work around guns and gangs.
- We've expanded our office space to make available free city-centre hotdesking for local voluntary organisations and community groups.
And there is more to come - just look elsewhere on this very website.
I'm in the incredibly lucky position of being able to lead and develop Macc's evolving role and broaden our horizons but I know we're able to do that because of Macc's history not in spite of it: our core values remain. In future, I'll use this blog to report back on Macc's work and role and give my thoughts on emerging policy issues, opportunities and generally share what I'm thinking about and learning as I go.
I'm going to save a lot of time by not having to type out our old name.