Blog Xtra: #zctconference

23.11.12 | Blog

I’m sat on the train heading back to Manchester, from Reading, following an absolutely amazing day at the Zurich Community Trust annual conference.
Last year, Nick Hoyle and Steve Grimmit from ZCT invited me to attend the conference and deliver a short presentation on what the Local Partnership award that we had just recieved means to us as a fledgling organisation. The whole conference was both a huge success and inspired me to push Survivors Manchester forward to reach its potential. The response to our cause from Zurich staff was overwhelming. We had so many offers of support from across the Zurich UK family and that is how we met Amelia and Mark, who have been two great supporters of ours.
So when Nick and Steve asked me to come back this year to ‘update’ the conference on our progress over the last twelve months, I jumped at the chance.
Sat writing my presentation, I couldn’t help but be reminded of our astonishing acomplishments and just exactly what it is that the Local Partnership Award has done for us. Personally speaking, I will forever be in debt to Zurich for helping me begin making a dream a reality. When health commissioners, funders, local and national government were closing doors on us and it seemed that no one wanted to know or help, three amazing people stepped forward and asked us to explain what we wanted to do. Beth Shaw, Heather Harvey and Nick Hoyle, on behalf of Zurich Community Trust, decided that we were worthy of a local partnership award and so began this amazing relatonship.
Just over twelve months later and at 11.25am on 22 November 2012, there I was again stood in front of about 250 Zurich UK staff (re-named by us: SOME OF THE MOST AMAZING PEOPLE I HAVE EVER HAD THE PLEASURE OF MEETING) about to start telling them what our Local Partnership Award has done for us.
Stood on stage looking out to conference, I took a deep breath. It wasnt the amount of people there that was phasing, it wasnt even seeing some familiar faces out in the audience that was phasing… it was seeing the amount of people that i know i would learn throughout the day have been inspiring and would inspire me to push on another year. Humbled is a word that springs to mind. And then I presented this

I wish there was a word that said something bigger and more significant than a simple Thank You, but then maybe that is the biggest word one can say to another(s).
Following my opening address, i was able to sit down and just take in the rest of the day (whilst frantically tweeting #zctconference).
I sat watching other people address conference, at times with tears rolling down my cheeks, feeling incredibly proud to be sat in a room alongside those that exceed expectations. The conference was entitled ‘A Year of Extraordinary People’ and boy oh boy they certainly lived up to that!
All the other charities and community groups that were attending 100% deserve to be there and all of them do extraordinary work, but I have to give a special mention to:
Hope and Homes for Children (especially to Oggi who was so brave in standing up and talking about his experience of growing up in various orphanages during the Bosian war)
Place2Be (for continuing to carry out some incredible therapeutic work with children and young people in schools across the UK)
and the fantatic inititive ‘Call In Time’ (in particular Barbara who so bravely stood up and explained to conference what it meant for her to recieve that weekly telephone call from her ‘buddy’ at Zurich for a chat, at times when many elderly people can feel so isolated).
All three had me in tears!
Following the main conference came the awards and more tears (from your’s truly).
All the nominees, runners up and winners deserved to be recognised for the incredible efforts they have made and we’d like to say well done to all of them.
But we want to celebrate four very special people, who have become part of the Survivors Manchester extended family.
Amelia Somerset was nominated in the Outstanding Individual category and we think that she is truly outstanding. Amelia is single handedly undertaking Survivors Manchester’s SROI (Social Return On Investment) which will aid us in future funding endeavours.
Mark Heaseman was nominated for a number of awards and won an individual award and was part of a winning team. Mark is a true hero spending so much of his time supporting a whole host of charities including the amazing Anthony Nolan Foundation for which he has practically ran the length and breadth of the country! Since Mark first introduced himself at last years conference, he has been a great supporter of Survivors Manchester and despite living 200 miles from Manchester, he is currently writing and developing all our financial policies and procedures.
Beth Shaw won the Charity Champion award for all her hard work in the Zurich office in Manchester engaging with the staff and local partners. Beth was one of the three people that originally chose Survivors Manchester to be one of lucky few to recieve a Zurich Local Partnership Award and is a great supporter of the work we do.
And last, but not certainly not least, Matt Hartigan recieved an award for the effor he makes in supporting the charitable work of Zurich, especially for being my mentor and helping me make Survivors Manchester the organisation it is today. It’s so fantastic to have someone there to be able to ‘bounce’ ideas off and ask advice from. Matt just seems to have this ability to make things so much clearer for me. It was Matt who, along with Beth, that enabled us to get Martin Robert Hall in to deliver his ‘Psychological Edge’ programme.
A huge congratulations to Amelia, Mark, Beth and Matt – thank you for caring enough to help us help the boys and men we work with reach their potential.
At the end of the conference, Makin’ MuZic, Zurich’s very own choir (think Gareth Malone and the Military Wives – but better!) gave an emotional performance including ‘Lean On Me’ and ending with a rousing rendition of ‘Rule Britania’ with the whole of conference waving their flags and joining in the chorus.
Yet again, so many conference attendees made such an effort to come and find me to say hello and offer their support. Thank you to each and every one of you, you are 100% helping to break the silence of the sexual abuse and rape of boys and men at a time when people need to know there is support out there!
And so ends another incredible #zctconference.
You know, we have very limited experience of working with funders but from listening to others, everyone says just how different Zurich Community Trust are. I’d absolutely echo that and hope that each and every one of the Zurich family realise that for us, are very special and will remain so for the lifespan of this organisation. Even when this formal award has ended, you will all still be very much a part of Survivors Manchester and we are so proud to be working with you.
From myself, the board and all the lads that you help us help, much love and admirtation

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