In Your Network - Ian Marr
Ian Marr is the Chief Executive of the YMCA in Aberdeen, working to help young people in the community. Ian is developing a new model of funding called a Social Impact Investment Partnership and wants to connect with others interested in exploring the potential of this funding model:
1) Please give a brief explanation of what it is you do and why?
I manage the development and day to day activities of YMCA in Aberdeen. Every day is different when you work with young people, they never fail to challenge and to amaze us. Our teenage years are when we work through so many important questions around “who am I”, “who are you” and “how do we get along together”. Being part of that journey of discovery with young people is an immense privilege and responsibility which motivates me to go in to work every day.
2) Why did you join the Fellowship?
I attended one or two Fellowship events with friends and found it to be a fascinating, challenging and enriching network of people who see life from different perspectives. They bring their different experiences and insights into the space which is the Fellowship and the mix that emerges is really fascinating. I love being a part of this bunch of people who have the skills and the commitment to make a difference.
3) In what capacity do you think you could contribute to society/the Fellowship?
I have 30 years of experience of working with people in various roles, most of them around working in communities to improve the quality of life that people experience on a day-to-day basis. I am looking forward to being able to bring that experience alongside the rich diversity of experience that exists within the Fellowship so that we can learn together and find new ways to impact on our communities and society for the good.
4) What would you change in society given the chance?
I would make the distribution of resources more equitable which, realistically, would involve addressing the issues of greed and self-centeredness which arguably got us in to some of our present difficulties as a society. I think that is also partly about giving people a sense of hope and aspiration.
5) What recent bit of news have you heard which inspires you?
I heard about a young man from a disadvantaged community in Aberdeen where I live who has gone to university. Only 5% of the young people from his secondary school attend university so he went back to the school to tell the other pupils about his experience and to encourage them to see higher education as a real option for them. I find it inspiring to see that level of commitment in a young person to encourage the aspiration of his peers.
6) What did you learn last week?
My daughter taught me how to work my new iPod “thing” which has been very useful on recent train journeys! On a more serious note though – I met with some people in a pan-European grouping to look at the use of the Social Impact Investment Partnership (see below) in Europe. Listening to them I learned the importance of translating an idea as well as translating language. Translating the words is only part of the task because people come from different cultural and socio-political contexts - a good idea from one culture needs to be appropriately translated to have a similar impact in a different national context.
7) Tell us about another interesting Fellow you have spoken to.
John Naylor is someone I have known for a number of years who has enormous depth and breadth of experience in community work across the UK. It was John who introduced me to the Fellowship and he now chairs the Scottish RSA team. He not only has depth and breadth of experience, he is entirely committed to using that for the common good and he has an enticing ability to draw out the experience of others which has led to a growing diversity in the Fellowship in Scotland for the benefit of the Fellowship overall and for the wider community. He also has boundless energy which can be exhausting just to watch let alone try to match!
8) What would you like to connect with Fellows about? Please tell us if there is anything you would like from other Fellows
I have been doing a lot of work recently on Social Impact Investment and YMCA in Scotland recently launched a new funding tool called a Social Impact Investment Partnership (SIIP) with the support of the Fellowship and RSA Catalyst. The SIIP creates a structure which allows private investors to provide the working capital for voluntary organisations to deliver a high quality, sustainable, cost-effective service in communities. If the service outcomes are achieved an outcome partner, often a Government department, will repay the working capital plus interest. I would love to talk to Fellows who would be interested in exploring the potential of this funding model, particularly those Fellows who are involved in the investment world.