I've mentioned previously that there's a danger that this blog becomes a series of rants about things I'm angry about. Well not today, at least!
Our State of the Voluntary Sector report shows there are over 3000 voluntary and community groups in Manchester. I don't know them all but I do know a lot of them and one of the great pleasures of my job is that I get to see some of the amazing things happening in groups across Manchester and meet some fantastic people.
The scale and diversity of that effort is breathtaking. It includes volunteers and paid staff. It includes work with local businesses and the public sector. It includes everything one-off activities in local parks right through to services which support people day-in-day-out.
I believe it’s important to celebrate all of that work and the people who make it happen. Partly this is to encourage more people to get do this kind of thing, partly it's to raise awareness of the work of local charities which often get overlooked and to encourage people to give their time and money to the groups working in their own communities. Most of all it's simply about saying there are good things happening in our neighbourhoods and to take a moment to stop and applaud these people.
So we've launched our new Spirit of Manchester Awards to highlight the work of local groups, something particularly important in these hard times. The awards aren't about who's "best" or shines brightest but instead to give examples of the kinds of activities we feel embody the spirit of Manchester. It's not about "winning" it's about pointing at examples of great community activities and saying "Isn't this wonderful? We should do more of this sort of thing!" It's my hope that lots of local groups will recognise themselves in these awards and be able to say "We do that too!".
We've split the awards into a range of categories around volunteering, working in partnership, being innovative, involving users and campaigning as these are all things which we think are what makes our sector distinctive. We've also added a "contribution to the sector" award to recognise people who've made a unique impact working in the sector over a number of years.
Nominations are open until Friday 2nd August. All the details and the nomination form are available here. If you know of some great work going on in your community, please nominate it!
The awards will be presented at an event in September I'm looking forward to it and to meeting more fantastic people who embody the Spirit of Manchester.