Leaders Forum bursting with issues and ideas – 22.11.16

On Tuesday 22nd November, MK Academy hosted our annual Leaders Forum.  This is where leaders from our member institutions share their findings from listening campaigns within their institutions and seek partners for further research of those issues and crafting of SMART campaign goals.

The room was bursting with 57 people representing 20 of our member institutions.

 

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And there was no shortage of stories about issues that are affecting our communities.

“We heard about a lot of very serious issues, perhaps too many to ultimately take forward,” said Tom Robbins of Q:alliance, “but there was a lot of energy and a sense of being the right people, in the right place, at the right time to address them. ”

In the end, six research teams were created, each with a leader and representatives of at least three member institutions, to find out more about the following issues (leaders in brackets):

  • Air pollution (Michael Sheppard, Transition MK)
  • Hate (Fidele Mutwarasibo and Anthony Okotcha, Church of Christ the Cornerstone)
  • Homelessness and housing (Chloe Markevics, YMCA, and Anna Kearns, St. Mary Magdalene’s Catholic Church)
  • Mental health (Imogen, Christ the Cornerstone)
  • One-stop cultural centre (Liz Kasibo, Global Outreach Foundation)
  • Redways (Josephine Osei, MK Academy).

Any proposals for new campaigns must gain the consent of our members’ alliance at Delegates Assembly on 7th February, when current campaigns may also be proposed further work in the year ahead.  We can proceed only with campaigns which have SMART goals and which we have sufficient capacity to support.

To support research teams, a training event will be held at MK Academy on Tuesday 6th December, 5.30-8pm.  We strongly recommend that all members of research teams attend this session.   Click here to book places.

Standing Room Only To Welcome Refugees – 14.11.16

On Monday 14th November, more than 150 MK citizens packed into the Guildhall at the city centre church yesterday evening to formally welcome five Syrian refugee families who have arrived in MK this year.

Following a negotiation immediately before with the leaders of three main political parties at MK Council offices, Council Leader Peter Marland said:  “The Council is committed to increasing the number of refugee families welcomed to 50 if the Refugees Welcome campaign group will continue to help us find new private accommodation.  The more you can help, the more we will take.  MK will never turn its back on refugees.”

Campaign leader David Wolfson thanked MK Council for taking a lead on welcoming refugees:  “Again and again we are hearing from around the country that we are doing this well in MK…but there is more to do.”

One member of the campaign group, Marie Gracie, said:  “Council officer Jeremy Beake has been a star, supporting refugees in so many ways.  We’re very committed to helping him develop relationships with local landlords.”

One of the refugees, Assad, spoke through a translator of his thanks for all MK Council and the British Red Cross have done to welcome his family.  “I feel lucky to have been born again twice…first when I found my children alive in the rubble, and again when we arrived in MK.”

“MK is my new country,” said another.

Click here for longer article.

MK Businesses Celebrate Real Living Wage Progress – 3.11.16

On Thursday 3rd November, lawyers Dentons hosted a Living Wage Business Breakfast for MK’s accredited Living Wage employers and others at their offices on Midsummer Boulevard.  Business, faith and civic leaders celebrated the benefits of paying the real Living Wage, whose new hourly rate is £8.45 per hour outside London.

This is the amount of pay per hour which is independently calculated to be enough for workers and their families to live on.  It is higher than the government’s national minimum rate.

The audience of 45 heard the latest statistical analysis from KPMG showing the staff recruitment, productivity and retention benefits of being a real Living Wage employer.

Employers also celebrated MK’s Living Wage campaign achieving two-thirds of its goal of 50 accredited employers in MK by the end of 2017, MK’s 50th birthday. See short film about the ’50’ campaign.

Ian Revell, Chief Executive of MK Community Foundation, said: “”Our Vital Signs 2016 report shows that, whilst the local economy continues to grow there are many workers left behind that are struggling to make ends meet and where wages have not kept pace with the cost of living locally.”

Cllr Peter Marland, Leader of MK Council, said: “It’s only right that every worker gets a decent day’s pay for a decent day’s work.  MK should become the first Living Wage city.”

Tony Berwick, Head teacher of Jubilee Wood Primary School, said:  “Our greatest ambassadors are our children and staff.  Morally, paying the Living Wage is the right thing to do, but it also makes business sense, makes my staff feel good about their work.”

Nick Peacock of Ascendant Recruitment, an MK company newly considering becoming a Living Wage employer, said:  “Our net profitability would increase.”

Lucian Hudson, Director of Communications at The Open University and Chair of Citizens:mk, said:  “It is exciting for Citizens:mk to be working with some of MK’s most successful businesses.  I hope we can develop these partnerships to address other social issues so that MK’s impressive prosperity is increasingly shared by all its people.”

Next November, the campaign expects to be celebrating 50 Living Wage accredited employers in MK’s 50th birthday, a remarkable achievement accomplished by a remarkable partnership of MK’s civil society and business communities.

Leaders Complete Two-Day Training – 24.9.16

On Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th September, 19 leaders from 10 member institutions completed a two-day course on the Craft of Community Leadership hosted by MK Quaker Centre.

The aim was to prepare a group of diverse leaders to develop skills and knowledge to use in community organising, especially to co-ordinate listening campaigns within their own institutions and report the issues back to Leaders Forum on 22nd November.

“It gave me a self-critical tool to see my strengths and weaknesses as a leader,” said Fr Bernard Barrett of St. Francis de Sales & St. Mary Magdalene’s Catholic Church.  “It gave me a clear pathway for both finding and forming people as leaders in my community for mission and community development.”

“The Two-Day Training has given me more understanding about what being a leader means,” said Elizabeth Kasibo of Global Outreach  Foundation, “and also opened my eyes to the other passions and needs that are being focused on within MK.”

“I felt well supported throughout the course,” said Chloe Markevics of MK YMCA.

“The course has helped me to be determined to actually reach my goals,” said Kate Abrahams of Church of Christ the Cornerstone.  “I feel that what I thought would not be possible now might very well be possible.”

The training included a new Annual Hearing of short testimonies of current  issues of social concern in MK, such as homelessness, hate crime and the impact of ‘Brexit’ on MK employees from Europe.

It is expected that both the Two-Day Training and the Annual Hearing will be expanded next year.

Weaving Trust at MK Synagogue – 18.9.16

On Sunday 18th September, 20 guests from Citizens:mk were hosted by 10 members of MK & District Reform Synagogue in Giffard Park.

After a warm welcome from Henry Fried, Chair of the Synagogue (pictured below), and some delicious cakes and tea, the series of six-minute conversations began.

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At the end of the event, several people commented positively about the event, which the evaluation group awarded a score of 10 out of 10.

“Just hearing of others’ experiences was an eye opener,” said Marion, who has been worshiping at the synagogue for 38 years.

“The door was opened, I was welcomed and I feel enlightened,” said Debbie Wilson, a guest from MK Quakers.

“This was my first visit to the Synagogue,” said Ayesha Peeran of MK Muslim Association.  “It was so interesting to find out how you conduct services here.”

“My life and faith is put into perspective by a group like this,” said Kate Abrahams of Church of Christ the Cornerstone.

“I realised you can sit with anyone and feel you can have a cup of coffee with them,” said James Cartman of Q:alliance.

“I really appreciated the open-mindedness of all the guests to Judaism, ” said Andy Gilbert of the Synagogue.

“Weaving Trust is about opening new doors of unexpected understanding,” said Carol Barac of Transition MK.

The event ended with Chair Henry Friel offering to host a similar Weaving Trust event next year.

Weaving Trust with MK Quakers – 10.9.16

On Saturday 10th September, 26 people participated in a Weaving Trust event hosted by MK Quaker Meeting.

“I am purring with delight,” said Eva Barton of MK Quakers, immediately after the event.

“It’s a great way to get to k now people in 3-D,” said Don Rowe, also of MK Quakers.

“I feel I’ve grown a lot today,” said Kurshida Mirza, visiting from MK Muslim Association.  “I’ve learned a lot about the Quakers and found we have so much in common.”

“It’s a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon,” said Azra Peeran, also of MKMA, “better than anything I expected.”

Parishes can benefit from community-owned energy – 15.8.16

Community Action: MK is inviting members of Parish Councils in Milton Keynes to a special event being organised during the national Community Energy Fortnight taking place between 3rd-18th September.

The event will take place at the Imovation Centre at Transport Systems Catapult (170 Midsummer Boulevard) between 5-7pm on Tuesday 13th September.

This short and practical session will provide useful information about the role that your parish council could play in promoting community ownership of energy. We will be using case studies of successful MK-based projects, such as Wolverton Community Energy, to illustrate how this model can act as a vehicle for community cohesion, at the same time as raising income for community investment in your area. In particular, we will be exploring:

  • Planning for sustainability and resilience – how you can include community energy outcomes in your Neighbourhood Plan, Parish/Business Plan or other strategic documents
  • Ways of improving efficiency of local buildings
  • Community ownership model – challenges and benefits
  • CAPE, Community Action Platform for Energy – new project in Milton Keynes

There will be an opportunity to network with representatives of other parish councils from across MK Borough and to find out about the exciting new MK Community Energy Alliance, and how your parish could become a part of it.

If you would like to represent your parish council at the event, please RSVP to anna@communityactionmk.org.

The event is being organised in collaboration between CAPE, Community Action Platform for Energy (one of Community Action: MK’s projects) and Wolverton Community Energy.

Thank you to Transport Systems Catapult for providing the venue. 

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You can see this and other events listed on the official Community Energy Fortnight 2016 website and follow updates on Twitter through #CEF16:

First MK Church Accredited Living Wage – 28.7.16

Church of Christ the Cornerstone has become MK’s first church to be accredited by the Living Wage Foundation.  This means that all its employees and employees of sub-contractors will be paid at least the current Living Wage of £8.25p per hour.

Debbie Wilson, co-chair of the Living Wage campaign, welcomed the latest accreditation.  “It is very good to add Christ the Cornerstone to our list of 30 employers accredited so far, one step closer to our target of 50 for MK’s 50th anniversary next year.”

“I am delighted we have achieved this,” said Rev Brenda Mosedale, who is due to retire from her post in a few days.  “I hope other faith institutions are not put off by the paperwork.  In the end, only a small proportion was relevant to us.”

Pictured from left to right are:  Bob Collard, Rev Ernesto Lozada-Uriaga and Rev Brenda Mosedale of Church of Christ the Cornerstone, with a gift of flowers; Debbie Wilson, Sheila Bacon and Jacqueline Eustace of our Living Wage campaign team.

Weaving Trust at MK Council – 14.7.16

On Thurs 14th July, 18 MK Council staff and councillors hosted 18 guests from Citizens:mk’s alliance in the 9th Weaving Trust event organised since the campaign began.  The event took place in the main Chamber at Civic Offices.

Cllr Liz Gifford, who formally welcomed everybody at the start, said:  “This event is brilliantly timed because as a country we must work on how to bring people together and in MK we have a model for doing it.  Now we must do more!”

As usual at a Weaving Trust event, ach participant took part in eight short conversations with people they didn’t know.

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“I was impressed most by the strong sense of community shown at the event,” said Opheas Shiridzinodya of MK Council, “from people who have lived in MK since the 70s to those who moved here two years ago.”

“The event was well organised and really enjoyable,” said Sharon Bridglalsingh of MK Council.  “What shone through was the pride we all share as citizens and Council officers in our city.”

At the end, participants scored the event with a 9 out of 10.  One commented:  “This proves what a lovely bunch of people we have in MK.”  Another said:  “It’s all about making connections.  This has helped me to become more aware of the commitment of churches in making MK a great community.”

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Colin Wilderspin of MK Council said:  “You can see people’s passion, what they believe in and how we can do more together.  I hope to be involved in future.”

Tim Norwood (pictured top facilitating the session), chair of the Weaving Trust campaign group, said:  “The Chamber was a fantastic venue for a Weaving Trust event.”

Statement After the Referendum – 28.6.16

The following statement was issued by MK Interfaith, Citizens MK and the MK Council of Faiths:

The people of the UK have voted to leave the EU. Whatever our views about the decision we must now unite to strengthen generosity, hospitality and compassion in our city. Let us cherish our differences as well as what we have in common.

We know that amongst neighbours, friends and colleagues, especially those from overseas, there may be a sense of insecurity.

At this time we stand together to speak out against racism and other forms of prejudice.

We also recommit ourselves to work together for the good of all people in our city, regardless of their origins.