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  • Writer's pictureSam Parry

Hello from the new Programmes Manager!

"The direction you choose to face determines whether you’re standing at the end or the beginning of a road." - Richelle E. Goodrich

Hello everyone!

It’s Sam here, the new Programmes Manager at the OMF.

I’ve been here for a month now, and it’s been an absolute whirlwind! I’ve met so many wonderful people and have had the opportunity to see people make a real difference already. I’ve written timetables, measured cellos, transported pianos, transposed clarinet parts for children’s orchestra…

I’ve gone from feeling the most unbelievable imposter syndrome before I started (how can I do this, why have they asked me etc) to immediately feeling like part of the family. I’ve been welcomed by everyone with open arms and the whole thing feels, in Jo’s words on my first day, ‘like a hand in a glove’.

Having spent the past 3 years as a software developer following the classic 2020 meltdown/change of trajectory, the opportunity to apply for this job felt serendipitous and I'm so glad it's happened. I’ve gone from feeling like a cog in a very big machine to being an integral part of the engine room. Tamsin (Programmes and Finance Coordinator) and I have taken the reins of paying invoices and wages along with our expected workload due to being down a team member, and even if I do say so myself, we have taken to it like a duck out of water (sic). It still feels weird being a ‘manager’, and people seem to agree with me a lot more than they did in my old job…

So what have I done?

I’m still waiting for the figurative boulder to come flying out of the aether and someone remind me that something needs to be done RIGHT NOW YOU FOOL, but so far, so good.

My first week was very much getting to grips with everything and everyone (I’ll let you know when I’ve completed that task), meeting teachers, making myself known, and arranging to meet people. I also drove around some cellos and took a keyboard for a ride on the bus, as you do...

Week two began with a meeting at Longsight Library where we do all our teaching. The Festival of Libraries is happening next month, which all sounds excellent! I’ve been tasked with coming up with something for OMF to do to represent ourselves at this festival. If you’re interested, it’s on June 15th! I went to meet Andrey at the Church of the Nazarene, the venue where our three choirs take place (including Youth Voices on a Friday 4:30-5:30 - send us a message and come!). Lovely place! That Friday I sat on my first ever BOARD MEETING! Felt very important. It’s wonderful to see people who really do care about the charity and its work.

My third week (sorry I’m a primary school pupil) involved looking round St John Vianney, one of our SEND schools, and watching the wonderful Georgie show off their skills as a facilitator. We have some absolutely wonderful staff out and about in schools and maybe over the next few months we can start to introduce them in our newsletters! I also ended up taking a choir rehearsal and taught my first singing lesson since March 2020, and I’ve never been more pleased to up tools again after such a long time.

Week four involved an awards ceremony (oooohhhh) which we won! ‘Outstanding public engagement initiative at the University of Manchester Making a Difference Awards for Social Responsibility’. Now doesn’t that sound fancy?! They read out Patrick’s name but I knew they meant me. I got to take home a lovely lily/ivy centrepiece from the table which was created by Hulme Garden Centre as well, which is now the centrepiece of my porch at home! More running round after young people, dealing with some fundraisery things with our fundraising queen of everything, Jenni Willows, who needs to impart all her knowledge before she leaves next month as her maternity cover ends. I also had my first professional dealings with the actual queen of everything, the wonderful Riognach Connolly, about our Voices of Hope choir. This choir meets 1-2pm on a Monday at Church of the Nazarene in Longsight before Children’s Voices (4:30-5:30pm) and once a term they have a lunch where some of the women shop and cook a lunch for everyone. Muy wholesome, muy delicious.

And that brings me to today, and this week. As I type I’m sat in the atrium area of the RNCM ready for a meeting with Maren, the placements coordinator, as we look towards September and further cooperation with everyone’s favourite college of music in the north. Team lunch is on Friday, and a chance to celebrate with Jo after she ran a 10k to raise money for Music For the Many.

In the meeting I had this morning the person I was meeting with described her job as ‘being in jelly… sometimes you’re walking, sometimes you’re wading, sometimes you’re swimming, sometimes you’re drowning.’. At the moment I think I’m probably wading rather than drowning, but let’s see if that boulder hits 🙂.

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