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.

Assembly Sets Justice Agenda For MK’s 50th Birthday – 26.4.16

Citizens:mk has won pledges from MK’s business and political leaders to achieve 50-themed social justice goals in MK’s 50th birthday year next year: 50 accredited Living Wage employers, 50 parish councils advised on renewable energy, 50 MK organisations in Weaving Trust events and plans to welcome 50 refugee families.

The pledges were made at our sixth annual Accountability Assembly at Cornerstone Church on 26th April, which drew a turnout of 260 people from 17 member institutions. The overall theme was ‘building community’ and the assembly heard personal testimonies of problems facing communities whose voices are not normally heard.

Care worker Jayne Meadows talked about how her life would change if she was to receive the real Living Wage.

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Syrian refugee Nour Sakr (pictured above) talked about her experience of being welcomed in Milton Keynes. Headteacher Helen Hann talked about the benefits to Wyvern First School community of being involved in a community energy scheme.  Hala Rafify of MK Muslim Association (pictured below) talked about her positive experience of welcoming non-Muslims to a ‘weaving trust’ event at the Islamic Centre on Coffee Hall.

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Several prominent MK businesses including Network Rail, Santander, KPMG, Dentons and IKEA, took turns to talk about the business benefits of being accredited Living Wage employers and urged others to join the Living Wage accreditation campaign. The new Living Wage Business Network made a ‘Special Contribution to the Community’ award to Julia Upton, who is retiring from her post as CEO of MK Community Foundation, for championing the idea of Milton Keynes as a Living Wage city.

MK Council Leader Pete Marland was given a fresh baked cake for completing seven of the eight pledges he made at last year’s Assembly, Then the leaders of MK’s main political parties each committed to further pledges for the year ahead. “We have three main parties on the Council and 80% of the time we actually agree,” said Cllr Edith Bald, Leader of the Conservative Party. “These are pledges about things that really matter to the people of Milton Keynes.”

And there was more. The Bishop of Buckingham pledged to fund additional training in community organising for church leaders. And student Daniella Ghansah of St. Paul’s School shared the results of a survey of 500 students which showed that students were being charged different bus fares by different drivers. “We are working on a campaign to introduce an All-in-One card with a flat fee for any bus journey across the city.” The Council Leader pledged to meet with the students and discuss it further.

International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia – 17.5.16

On May 17th, CitizensMK member institution, Q:alliance will be hosting a celebration to mark the annual International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia. There will be a short ceremony at the MK Rose in Campbell Park at 1pm, followed by refreshments at the Milton Keynes Gallery Project Space.

Despite tremendous advancements over last 15 years in the UK, prejudice continues to be a serious issue at home and abroad. Although steadily declining, homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic violence and discrimination continues to make headlines in the UK.

CitizensMK works to bring together the diverse communities of Milton Keynes to work together for a better MK. Our Weaving Trust campaign has been focussed particularly on bringing ordinary people together to meet each other as neighbours in our city.  We are delighted the Q:Alliance are a member of CitizensMK and are keen to create more understanding and tolerance.