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  • Johny Haycocks

A year in the York MCN Network as a human being with multiple needs.

The York MCN Network is trying to influence change on a macro and micro level within the services across York.

These services provide support to people in the community who require help for all manner of needs. It’s incredibly stressful and confusing for anyone who stands back to look at the bigger picture and begin to imagine how an individual could begin to navigate these services and seek out the help they require.

I’ve been staggered by every individual in the Network over the last year. Staggered in their passion, their resilience, their motivation, their energy, compassion, knowledge, honesty, courage, empathy, understanding and willingness to commit to what is (to be blunt) a challenge that is so big and so vast sometimes it seems insurmountable.

When I sit here and reflect upon my own journey this year, I can see that I have felt swamped.

I’ve felt like this task is too great to overcome.

It’s felt at times that I’ve had no solutions, however large or small the problem. I’ve not had the answers despite countless nights, afternoons and evenings sat drawing endless mind maps and causal loops on my traditional lining wallpaper, my preferred method of problem solving.

When you’re sat on my own with it all in front of you, trying to make sense of how it all of the work we’re doing interlinks, it can all seem a bit overwhelming to say the least.

The thing is though, I was never really alone.

Collaboration is one of the most difficult (and at times mind-blowing) methods of working that I’ve encountered in the last decade of my life within the creative arts.

It can be exhausting.

It’s frustrating, it’s complex and it means learning to work together as a whole - a whole which is far greater and far more effective than its individual parts.

It’s about trust, radical trust in that the Network and its collective energy and knowledge.

When individuals continually come together and share learning it provides a ‘fluid permanence’ from which they can be liberated from the old methods of working separately and silently.

Collaboration is about…

  • being committed to learning at the very heart of the Network

  • figuring out new ways of working together

  • being more consistently open and honest

  • getting rid of silos which currently prevent services being more conjoined and transparent

  • a co-produced approach

  • a shared vision and values

Over the last 12 months, we took part in a Cultural Values Process, and it’s really bonded people.

The idea of shared values was a huge part of the process. The work generated its own gravity, its own synergy. It has had us thinking about what matters and what feels right. It’s also made us think about what behaviours we collectively want to encourage and how we want to progress in terms of the work we do moving forward.

It’s been a perfect example of how organic the Network’s endeavours are. It steered its own path, so to speak. One session would determine the next session which was held in a state of permanent flux, ebbing and flowing in response to the conversations and exchanges of experiences that occurred.

A revolution on a societal level can only take place in our own minds.

If we want to change the wider systems of working, it starts with us as individuals which is no small task. It’s a challenge to challenge your own thinking and address and adapt any long-held methods of working you may have.

We need to think and work differently…

But the way we think and the way we work are two of the hardest things to think and work differently on if you’re still with me?

Thankfully, the amazing and inspiring conversations that take place across the Network really make you constantly review your own lens through which you navigate the world around you.

From my perspective, it’s about inserting the ‘We’ in place of the ‘I’ and the ‘Can’ over the ‘Can’t’.

There’s a huge feel-good factor to sharing a space with people who have passion, heart and soul.

The Cultural Values work really confirmed for me that I am part of something so special, so novel and ground breaking… it’s like a breath of fresh air.

The MCN Network will continue in the next year to strive for change through a complete range of skills, learning, knowledge and a sense of camaraderie. This keeps me driven to play my part in making a difference in the work that I do.

It’s an honour and a privilege to be part of the MCN Network and this year that has been eventful, emotional, and inspiring.

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