So much has happened at Justlife since I last wrote an Update it is difficult to know where to start – but where better than with our brilliant team? A few of them are shown in this picture but in total we now have 14 people (including board members) who are regularly working on Justlife activities.
We recently appointed Harriet (second from left) as our cook. Harriet is a student at Manchester University and will be working a few hours each week to prepare food for our drop in sessions. We are also in the process of appointing a replacement for Kenny (far right) who will shortly be moving back home to Ireland with his wife Amy. Kenny has played a foundational role in establishing our work among the vulnerable adults of east Manchester and we will all miss him greatly.
It is an awesome privilege to work with such a dedicated team who give their time, energy and skills week in and week out.
AGM & Awards
Thanks to the generosity of Manchester City Football Club and a very generous sponsor we were able to hold our first Annual General Meeting in the Legends Lounge at Eastlands in January. This wonderful occasion was attended by volunteers, supporters and partner organisations who were all treated to live music, lovely food and an opportunity to hear about the work, hopes and dreams of Justlife. The presentation included a ringing endorsement from our local councillor Neil Swannick who expressed his support and admiration for all that we aspire to achieve.
The evening also included the presentation of 2 awards – The 2009 Volunteer of the Year Award which went to Tommy McGuigan (Pictured) who volunteered at every session in 09 and served something like 700 cups of tea and coffee and 2009 Supporter of the Year which went to Margaret Yuill who has to date raised over £3000 for Justlife through her paintings and other fundraising initiatives. (www.martyart.co.uk).
Overlooking the pitch the venue seemed an ideal location to rally support for our work going forward and the consequences of that event have already lead to new partnerships and new funding streams opening up.
Having recently received some additional funds from Manchester City Council for our work with vulnerable adults we have been able to increase our drop in sessions from 1 to 2 per week, we hope that this will enable us to have greater momentum with the service users and also to access more people. We also hope within a few weeks to start a SMART group (Self Management And Recovery Group) which will provide support to those seeking to stay drug and alcohol free.
We are also currently in discussion with commissioners about the possibility of having a nurse seconded to our service in order to provide health interventions such as vaccinations, rapid HIV tests, wound care and sexual health screening as well as ongoing brief intervention and motivational work around drug and alcohol use. We believe this service could provide much needed health improvement for individuals within our community.
Whilst we continue to learn a great deal from our interactions with service users we have as yet been unable to secure funding for a formal research project as we had hoped. We are convinced that research is absolutely fundamental to the success of future services and we are committed to maximising our learning in order that we can achieve better results with people. We are once again exploring options of how best to undertake this area of work and we hope to have some developments to report very shortly.
If you have been following our journey over the last 2 years you will know that Gransmoor Avenue is a place of great significance for us. Described as ‘the worstplace to live in Manchester’ the Avenue is home to the many of the most vulnerable adults in our community – those struggling with physical & mental ilness, the addicted, the lonely and the weak. Our vision to facilitate transformation for all these individuals and transform this street into the most desirable to live in east Manchester continues to gather momentum and after a great deal of work behind the scenes it would appear that we have now secured the necessary support both locally and politically.
There are major hurdles still to overcome but with some highly skilled individuals now joining us in the vision I believe we have a real chance of pulling this off for the benefit of the current residents and the wider neighborhood.
If you haven’t had a chance to look at our website recently you may want to click through to it when you have finished reading this. Thanks to the our great friend Lloyd Kinsley at Lard designs we have a brand new site which looks great and has all the up to date information on it. I’ll be trying to keep it populated on a weekly basis so that you are never too far away from knowing what is happening in and around Justlife.
Thank you so much to those who are supporting us financially, we are so encouraged by your commitment to the journey with us. If you would like to know how you can support us in this way there is information on the website.
Many thanks for reading, supporting, praying, giving, caring!
Gary & the Board