This Great Interactions blog richly captures week on week the essence of MacIntyre and how the vision and aspirations of our founder, Ken Newton Wright still lives on in everything we do today, some fifty years after he opened the very first MacIntyre School. Reading this blog each Monday is the highlight of my week as the stories shared depict so well what it is that is unique about MacIntyre. The stories have at their heart warm and nurturing relationships that have been built on trust, warmth, respect and skilled facilitation. They also capture phenomenal moments of personal achievements for students at our school, for young people who are engaging in further education and making the transition in to adult life and work, for people who are moving house, making new friends, starting up small enterprises and for older people holding onto memories as they adjust to living with dementia.
Meeting people and hearing such stories first hand is also important to me so I was delighted to be able to attend both of our roadshows during the last couple of weeks. Both events captured quite spectacularly all that is so wonderful about MacIntyre, the celebratory feel was uplifting (with the silent disco a particular hit), the preparation by many people impressive, the “manning” of all stands and presentations even more impressive(particular thanks to the students at Wingrave for the fantastic Christmas cards, tags and presents making my Christmas shopping so much nicer)but the icing on the cake was witnessing the richness of the relationships that exist, relationships that transcend age, ability, culture, status and all characterised by the above mentioned trust, warmth, respect and skilled facilitation. It goes without saying that such relationships do not happen overnight or without reflection, time, sensitivity and empathy and for this I would like to thank everyone!
So as we approach our Jubilee year and at a time when the sector is in turmoil our challenge is to remain positive, show resilience and to nurture and protect all that is special about MacIntyre enabling us to continue to add value to disabled children, adults and their families. The disappointing decision by the government not to award any additional central funds for social care will inevitably result in less people with a learning disability eligible for statutory support and an increase in the number of people who will see their support packages reduced. This will have an impact on the size and shape of what we and other providers do with the overriding need to do “more for less” and to be clear about how we are different to other organisations.
Our 2016 strategy, “proud of our past and ambitious for our future” sets out how we will do this, how we will strengthen the voice of the children and adults we support and their families, how we will connect with more people, how we will build on our skills to ensure that we are experts in some areas, how we will deliver excellent education, care and support to everyone at all times, how we will engage better with our workforce and how we will respond to the ongoing commercial challenges. However actions speak louder than words so my plea to everyone connected with MacIntyre, yes please do take some time out to read this strategy but more importantly continue doing what we do so well facilitating great interactions and developing those warm and nurturing relationships.