Three pupils representing Summerfield Primary School Council joined head teacher Pam Weston for a meeting with three members of staff at Shoosmiths solicitors on 6th March to discuss partnership in the Redways Relaunch campaign.
“We need to clean the redways to make them more attractive because most pupils don’t use them” said pupil Jaydun. “The more people use the redways, the less scary it is. Will you help our campaign?”
At the meeting, Shoosmiths agreed in principle to partner with Summerfield Primary School to make the Redways Relaunch campaign happen.
“We want to be involved in the community,” said Jocelyn Kirkwood of Shoosmiths. “We need to work together to achieve something. If I can help tidy a redway near your school, that’s really important to me.”
“We are part of MK,” said Sarah Lovell of Shoosmiths. “We should give back to the community as much as we can. It’s great you (the pupils) have the energy and passion to do something.”
Kim Opszala of Dentons LLP UKMEA was formally thanked by members of the Refugees Welcome MK team, Marc Eisenstadt (pictured left) and Tim Norwood (right), for her and her colleagues’ pro bono work in producing legal documents for their constitution as a charitable incorporated organisation.
“I look forward to continuing to work with Refugees Welcome in the next phase of the charity’s development,” said Kim.
For further information about Refugees Welcome MK, visit www.rwmk.org.uk. For Dentons, it’s www.dentons.com.
On Monday 27th February, three pupils and the head teacher of Jubilee Wood Primary School met with staff at Dentons solicitors in Central Milton Keynes.
The aim was to brief the Dentons staff on the goals of the Redways Relaunch campaign and find out their interests in supporting it.
“The children thought the office was amazing,” said head teacher Tony Berwick. “Dentons’ support and help is very much appreciated and we are very pleased they have agreed to attend the Day of Action outside Civic Offices on Friday 21st April.”
“We hope to have Dentons employees working alongside our children on a Redways project in the future.”
On a cold Tuesday afternoon, 21st February 2017, nine members of the Living Wage campaign team set off to meet solicitors in CMK who were thought to be paying Living Wage to all staff…but not their cleaners.
The aim was simply to meet the solicitors, give them a letter outlining the benefits of becoming a Living Wage employer…and an enclosed tea bag for a nice cup of tea while reading it!
The action was successful in engaging with nine solicitors, with appointments being made for a series of follow-up discussions over the next two weeks.
“We got a positive result,” said Suresh Nesratnam of The Open University.
“It was good to do something for a good cause,” said Chris Freedland of MK Quaker Meeting.
Three new campaigns were launched at this year’s Delegates Assembly (total number of votes from institutions in brackets):
- Mental Health – face to face appointments for screening assessments and notebooks for all mental health patients (69 votes)
- Redways Relaunch – 50 improvements to the Redway network and a day of action on 21st April (50 votes)
- Fight against Hate – awareness raising on public buses and in schools, and peer support for victims of hate crime (49 votes).
The assembly was attended by 85 people from 18 member institutions, who jointly committed a turnout of 255 for the upcoming Accountability Assembly on 25th April, where the new campaigns will be asking power-holders to make campaign pledges (numbers in table below).
Click here for details of what was said at the Delegates Assembly.
“What was really impressive (as an outsider),” wrote Jonathan Cox, Deputy Director of Citizens UK, “was the depth of the members’ ownership of the organisation and the process. In particular the accountability around dues, with each institution being asked to pay its dues for the year ahead by April. Also the seriousness about turnout and democracy…and the wide range of leaders proposing new and very local issues to take forward.”
On Saturday 28th January 2-4pm, 90 individuals from 50 MK organisations took part in the ‘Weaving Trust 50’ event to celebrate MK’s 50th birthday.
Following short testimonies from individuals of different faiths, talking about their experiences living in Milton Keynes, participants had seven conversations about their own experiences in a carousel of six-minute conversations with people they didn’t know.
“It is so important to talk to new people,” wrote one participant at the end. “We are often so busy in our own world, jobs that it takes someone to set up an opportunity for us to be able to have the time and space to meet other people from all walks of life in MK. It can only serve to bring communities together.”
Another participant wrote: “It’s really opened up my eyes to the diversity of people, faiths and groups in Milton Keynes and how many community and charitable organisations there are which are dedicated to the social cohesion and celebration of them. Perhaps this is what makes MK so different. We’re not just roundabouts and concrete cows after all!”
“It was lovely to talk to so many interesting and MK committed people,” said Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher, Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire.
“The feedback has been wonderful,” said Alan Bainbridge, of MK Quaker Meeting, who chairs the Weaving Trust campaign team and facilitated the event. “It was marvellous to stand on the podium and gaze down to see 90 people engaged with each other and so obviously enjoying the experience, and clearly getting a lot out of it.”
Alan Bainbridge, Chair of the Weaving Trust action team, writes:
We met seven prisoners and Alan Hodgetts, the managing chaplain acting as a host. I introduced the session by saying that Weaving Trust is simply about meeting people we otherwise wouldn’t and through personal contact getting a fuller appreciation of each other’s lives. This may not immediately create trust, but without contact and conversation trust is impossible.
I was initially a bit apprehensive about meeting prisoners, some of whom were serving long sentences, but by the end of the session I was no longer apprehensive and I think that sums up the event. I learned a lot about prison life and found the prisoners to be reflective and insightful.
One interesting observation that came out strongly was that the prisoners wanted there to be more prison officers on duty. This reflects and supports the recent strong representations made by prison officers themselves that they are too few in number. The prisoners were generally respectful of the prison officers and recognised that they make the environment safer and enable prisoners to have more freedom within the prison, rather than being locked in their cells or ”behind the door” as they called it. I learned that prison life is tough, but not as tough, or cruel, as it is sometimes represented on television or in the press. The major difficulty was boredom, and the prisoners themselves seemed to greatly appreciate the opportunity to meet people from beyond the wall.
I came away from the event strangely conflicted because the people I met seemed remarkably ordinary, and yet they were prisoners and, as they all acknowledged, were there because they had done something wrong. In Weaving Trust we don’t expect any outcome, other than greater understanding, and I think I will reflect on this experience for some time. I wish all the people I met well.
On Tuesday 22nd November, MK Academy hosted our annual Leaders Forum. This is where leaders from member institutions share their findings from listening campaigns and seek partners to research those issues and craft SMART campaign goals.
The room was bursting with 57 people representing 20 member institutions.
And there was no shortage of stories about issues 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. “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.”
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 (James Cartman, Q:alliance and Imogene Okotcha, Church of 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 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.