MK50 Living Wage Business Breakfast date set, 7th November

You are invited to this event to celebrate MK’s 50 accredited Living Wage employers and learn how other employers can do the same.

Tuesday 7th November 2017, 8.45-9.45am

at Dentons UKMEA LLP, The Pinnacle, 170 Midsummer Blvd, Milton Keynes MK9 1FE

Tea/coffee served from 8am

DRAFT AGENDA (This agenda is not finalised and may be altered.)

8.30     Welcome and Introduction from co-chairs

8.35     Living Wage Song from Summerfield Primary School choir in Main Entrance

8.40     Film:  MK Living Wage City

8.45     Why Living Wage is good for me – testimony from workers benefiting with

  • The Open University
  • Dentons UKMEA LLP
  • IKEA

8.55     Why Living Wage is good for our business

  • KPMG – Ben, Cormac and/or Liam
  • LUSH or Mazars
  • Santander or Interdirect

9.05     Why Living Wage is good for our community

  • Milton Keynes Council
  • Trinity Centre
  • Milton Keynes Dons Sport and Education Trust or Camphill

9.15     Why Living Wage is good for our future

  • Jubilee Wood Primary School
  • MK Community Foundation

9.10     What do you think about the Living Wage – 121 with the person next to you

9.15     Future of Living Wage – Lola from Living Wage Foundation and Sheila Bacon of Citizens:mk

9.25     Summerfield Primary School Choir sing ‘We Built This City Called Milton Keynes’

9.30     End.  Photo of 50 Living Wage employers.

For more about Citizens:mk, tom.bulman@citizensuk.org, tel 07962 838685.

Noorah Mohammed wins Fight Against Hate poster competition – 19.7.17

Noorah Mohammed, Year 5 pupil at Summerfield Primary School, has been awarded first prize in the ‘Fight Against Hate’ campaign poster competition.  The runners up were Frankie O’Connor of Great Linford Primary School and Fariss Kapaga, also of Summerfield School.

The competition was sponsored by Arriva Buses, represented by General Manager Kieran Lawson, and The Open University, who hosted the awards event.

“We are proud of what the pupils have done to raise awareness of this very important issue,” said Lucian Hudson, the OU’s Director of Communications.

“It is good for Arriva to be doing something for the wider community,” said Kieran Lawson.  “I have no doubt we will be working together on this important issue in the years to come.”

Five primary schools brought pupils who were shot-listed for an award:  Great Linford, Jubilee Wood, St. Monica’s, Summerfield and Tickford Park.

“We are delighted to have two winners from our school,” said Pam Weston, Headteacher of Summerfield.  “We want to carry on with this important campaign next year.  Our school is located in a very mixed area of MK and we love to be part of it!”

The Summerfield children’s choir sang ‘We Built This City Called Milton Keynes’ and a specially commissioned new song, ‘Love Is Stronger Than Hate’.  Click here to hear Nikki Elgar and the Summerfield School Choir on BBC Three Counties Radio (1hr 50mins and 44secs into the show).

“We’re all different but we’re all the same on the inside,” said Nikki Elgar of Summerfield School.

“The Open University has an ongoing commitment to this campaign,” said Jiten Patel, the OU’s Head of Equality, Diversity and Information Rights, who organised the poster competition.  “Let’s make hate history.”

Pictured above are Noorah and Lucian Hudson, who presented the award.  Pictured below is the Summerfield School choir in full voice.

 

 

50 Redway improvements could be 500, Council Leader tells pupils

Seven pupils from three schools attended a second meeting with Cllr Peter Marland, Leader of MK Council, and Sean Rooney, Head of Highways.  Also attending were David Foster and Rob Riekie, Chief Executive and Operations Director of The Parks Trust.

This was the second formal meeting between pupils and the main power-holders in Citizens:mk’s Redways Relaunch campaign.  The schools represented in the negotiations this time were MK Academy, St. Monica’s and Summerfield Primary School.

Sean Rooney explained that his team had been researching the feasibility of the Redway improvements proposed by pupils at the last meeting, and that most would be implemented.  The changes will include new lamp posts, clearing bushes and applying new surface treatments.  He said these would be detailed in a RAG-rated list, including improvements on Parks Trust land, and this would be shared with the schools for accountability.

Sean Rooney pledged that works would begin this summer and some of the new lamp posts would be ready this autumn.

He also proposed that pupils could design with individual school branding the heavy-duty stickers that would be used on lamp posts to identify the relaunched Redways surrounding each school.

“We have listened to you,” he told the pupils, “and we need to keep on listening”.

Councillor Marland said:  “The 50 improvements you want could be 500 improvements if we involve other schools and some of the businesses you are working with.”  Various business partners are already engaged in the campaign – Dentons, Network Rail, Santander, Shoosmiths –  and the meeting agreed it would be good to engage them further.

“Let’s do this across MK,” said David Foster.  “It’s unusual to hear directly the voices of young people…and we want to hear more of them.”   Rob Riekie offered that Parks Trust staff could walk with pupils around the Redways on Parks Trust land to look at other ways they can be made safer.

“Talking to these important people has helped me become more confident,” said 11-year-old Miriam from St. Monica’s Catholic Primary School.

“It’s clear that they’re taking us seriously,” said 14-year-old John from MK Academy.

Researching young people’s priority mental health issues – 11.7.17

Roz Mascarenhas from the Youth Participation Team of MK Council invited Citizens:mk’s Mental Health campaign team to lead a Mental Health workshop at the MySayMK Conference for pupils from local secondary schools.  The conference was held at MK Christian Centre in Oldbrook (pictured).

The workshop was facilitated by campaign leader Tess Price and two new team members, Brett Farrier-Smith and Laura Gaskell from the YMCA, along with Community Organiser Tom Bulman.  The workshop was delivered twice to a total of about 50 young people aged 11-16.

Through structured conversations (121, small group and whole group), short-listing and a process of voting at the end, the following mental health issues were prioritised for action (in priority order):

  1. Teacher Support and Awareness of Mental Health Needs and Issues in School (20 Votes)
  2. Support at School for Individual Needs (16 Votes)
  3. Teacher education/training on Mental Health (12 Votes)
  4. Improving Access to Services and Support for ‘Lower Risk’ Young People who can’t access CAMHS (9 Votes)
  5. De-stigmatising Mental Health needs, especially taking into account students/young people’s individual backgrounds, cultures and religions (9 Votes)
  6. Treating everyone the same, in school and outside school, so that young  people don’t feel further isolated/stigmatised by their mental health needs/issues (9).

It was agreed that the outcomes would be shared with MK Council and other stakeholders including the Joint Commissioner for the Clinical Commissioning Group and the Director of MK Mental Health Services.

Pupils get creative in fight against hate – 3.7.17

From 12th to 19th July, The Open University is hosting an exhibition of children’s art work to raise awareness of hate crime.  In a campaign organised by Citizens:mk, posters created by pupils from four MK primary schools will be judged by a panel including Arriva buses, whose marketing manager has agreed to display Fight Against Hate posters on MK buses this Autumn.  The poster competition was launched by the Bishop of Oxford in May.

Lucian Hudson, Director of Communications at The Open University and Chair of Citizens:mk, said:  “The Open University is delighted to be hosting this exhibition.  Raising awareness of how hate crime affects us all  is important to our shared vision of MK as a thriving, more inclusive and fairer MK.”

Sophia Kibirige, Treasurer of MK Muslim Association and School Governor at Summerfield Primary School, said:  “This competition is a great way for the children to express their natural kindness and show how much they want to live in a community without hate.”

At the competition awards event on 19th July, the Summerfield School choir will perform a song written especially for the campaign, ‘Love not hate’.  Prizes for competition winners include Apple computers.

Fidele Mutwarisibo, member of Church of Christ the Cornerstone and leader of the Fight Against Hate campaign, said:  “Raising awareness through this poster competition is one of our four goals for the campaign in its first year.  I am so pleased that we are all getting a chance to see and hear how much the children of MK care about this issue.”

To see and hear the pupils’ views and voices, sign up to attend the Poster Exhibition & Awards event at The Open University on Wednesday 19th July, 10.00-11.30am (arrival from 9.30).  Contact Jiten Patel, organiser of the competition,  jiten.patel@open.ac.uk .

(Pictured above are pupils of Summerfield Primary School Council after receiving their ‘Young Citizen 2016-17’ awards at the end of June.)

Successful Healing through Hearing pilot – 28.6.17

On Wednesday 28th June, two groups of five hate crime survivors met to share their experience and ask one another questions.  Among them were men and women of different ages who have experienced hate because of their religion, race,  LGBT identity or disability.

Running this pilot event was one of the four goals of the Fight Against Hate campaign launched in February 2017.

Hosted at MK Civic Offices, and facilitated by two campaign team members from The Open University, the pilot event was seen to be a success because the participants, who had not met before, said they would like to meet again.

Themes discussed included verbal sexual abuse, bullying/victimisation, isolation, fear for personal safety, anxiety, not knowing where to turn, futility of reporting to police, anger and frustration, inter and intra community tensions and  violence.

One  facilitator observed that people left feeling more supported as a result of having shared.

Santander clears St. Paul’s School Redway – 26.6.17

On Monday 26th June, 16 staff from MK’s Santander office spent a full day clearing over-grown bushes from a Redway path used by hundreds of pupils from St. Paul’s Catholic School.  It was part of a ‘Discovery Day’ scheme through which Santander encourage their staff to engage with the local community.

It was also a vital action day for the Citizens:mk Redways Relaunch campaign, with students wearing ‘Redway Warriors’ t-shirts and using litter-picking equipment purchased by Santander.

“We’ve coordinated well as a team.  It was so over-grown, litter everywhere!” said Luke Farrell, Contracts Manager at Santander, who spoke at the big outdoor meeting with the Leader of the Council on 21st April.

“We’ve found so much rubbish in the bushes,” said Jarrod Glover,  Head of Third Party Management (pictured above with Greg Maw, Assistant Headteacher of St. Paul’s Catholic School), “…cans, bottles, plastic bags, even nappies!”

“Working with the St. Paul’s students has been brilliant,” said Karen Robson, Santander’s Head of Third Party Management & Procurement (pictured below with student Tegan Dodimead).

“Suddenly this whole redway has opened up and all it’s taken is some people wanting to do it and a little bit of time.  All of my team has gained something from today just by being among the pupils and getting positive comments from the wider community.  It’s probably the most beneficial Discovery Day we’ve done so far.”

14-year-old pupil Tegan Dodimead said:  “It was great working with the Santander people.  They’re so friendly!”

A younger pupil, walking through on her way out of school at the end of the day, said:  “Wow, it’s got so much wider (the Redway path)…I feel safe now.”

“Working with the Santander team has been amazing,” said teacher Meghan Jones, who co-ordinated the action.  “We’ll definitely be doing more together.”

Another Santander staff member, Alan (pictured below), was happy to put in the extra effort because he’s training for a triathlon!

Ayser Al Jawad, Middle Eastern Cultural Group

What is your proudest Citizens moment?

Witnessing  important issues, being presented by normal people (citizens) working together toward a common goal and achieving it.  I observed stake holders including the city councillors from all different political parties and MPs agree to the people’s requests for accepting more refugees, to sign up to Living Wage and more.  The most recent proud moment was being part of the team that planned the Great Get Together Iftaar on 16th June.

What’s the impact of membership been on you and your institution? 

This year, our community took part in various events and actions.   We developed strong links and relationships, both personal and as an organisation., friendships with people from all walks of life and from many local and national organisations.   We achieved exposure for our work and goals, and found common ground, values, aims and passions, shared with many in our wider MK community.

What are you most looking forward to over the next 12 months?

I am looking forward to the next task;  planning and organising a Fight Against Hate summit during national Hate Crime Awareness Week which will be mid-October.  We will be supporting Citizens:mk’s Fight Against Hate campaign team.   As a community we are looking forward to achieving more, grabbing opportunities, developing and making greater impact in our society under the Citizens:mk umbrella.

Great Get Together Iftaar Celebrates MK unity – 16.6.17

Two member institutions of Citizens:mk, Trubys Garden Tea Room and the Middle Eastern Cultural Group (MECG), teamed up to host a ‘Great Get Together Bring & Share Iftaar’ in Campbell Park Pavilion on Friday 16th June.  See video.

Inspired by The Jo Cox Foundation, this event aimed to celebrate both the unity of the people of Milton Keynes and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, with a programme of talks, nasheeds (Islamic songs) and Christian hymns.  (Pictured reciting the Quran is Umar Mohiuddin from Bayt’ul Ilm Madrassa.)

More than 200 MK residents, including adults and children from all faiths and none, came together to share Iftaar, the breaking of the daily Muslim fast, in a spirit of solidarity.

Several non-Muslims, including the High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire,  Peter Kara, had a go at fasting throughout the day too.

“Food fasting is something I do regularly as part of my physical wellbeing,” said Peter Kara. “But the experience of not drinking any water from sunrise to sunset required a mental discipline that made me realise why spiritual fasting is embraced by so many different cultures.  By overcoming the desire to react to a basic instinct for food and water within us, we can also learn to develop the capacity to overcome other, more negative instincts, such as greed, envy, lust and hatred.”

Mark Lancaster MP and the Mayor and Mayoress also attended and spoke in celebration of MK unity.

Mark Lancaster said:  “One year one from Jo Cox’s murder it is right that we come together and reflect what we can all do to ensure that as a community we focus on celebrating what unites us rather than that which divides.  This event is a fine example of MK demonstrating just what a united community we are.”

Mayor David Hopkins later wrote:  “It was a pleasure to attend.  The atmosphere from the moment we arrived and the smiles on the faces of those attending confirmed what a warm and comforting evening had been generated.”

Kurshida Mirza of Trubys Garden Tea Room,  an interfaith community cafe run by Muslim women, said:  “The generosity of the people of Milton Keynes was amazing.  Everyone was so keen to work with us, to make the Great Get Together Iftaar a success for Milton Keynes.  The feeling of unity was very strong indeed.”

Ayser Aljawad, of MECG, said:  “This was a tribute to Jo Cox but at the same time to MK’s spirit and the Communities unity, the ‘let’s do it’ approach which is also core to MECG.  The diverse collection of passionate volunteers and generous participants shows that MK will not be divided.  This was a truly wonderful event, which I hope will set a precedent for years to come.”

The event was supported by funding from MK Community Foundation and the Rotary Club, with private donations from several individuals.

and

The event formed part of MK’s celebration of its 50th birthday, with a special emphasis on celebrating MK’s unity, justice and welcome to outsiders.

Pupils negotiate Redway improvements with Council Leader – 15.6.17

Following the action on 21st April, pupils from four schools met Cllr Pete Marland and his Highways chief Sean Rooney to lay out their initial plans for Redway improvements.

Each school had 10 minutes to present images and details of their top 10 priority ‘hotspots’ for improvement.  These included over-hanging bushes, broken steps, old paintwork, discoloured signposts and lots and lots of rubbish and broken glass.  The schools involved were Jubilee Wood, Summerfield (pictured), St. Monica’s Catholic Primary, MK Academy and St. Paul’s Catholic School.

Cllr Marland agreed to meet with the pupils again once his team had drawn up a list of RAG-rated works, and following a meeting with The Parks Trust, which has responsibility for some of the Redways on which improvements are needed.

On summarising the pupils’ thanks to Cllr Marland,  Josephine Osei from MK Academy said:  “We feel privileged that you are finding time to work with us on something we are so passionate about.”

“I’ve been very impressed with the students’ research,” said Cllr Marland.  “I really like their idea of painting the Redway lamp posts in the school colours, so that hopefully former pupils and parents will take as much care of their school’s Redways as the current pupils and staff.  If this works, I think it can be rolled out to include schools that aren’t members of Citizens:mk.”

Pupils pictured outside Civic Offices below.

Shoosmiths takes to the Redways with Summerfield pupils – 15.6.17

Seven members of staff from Shoosmiths LLP joined dozens of pupils from Summerfield Primary School for 90 minutes of litter-picking on the local Redways.

This was another good example of local businesses doing their bit to help Citizens:mk member schools generally, and the Redways Relaunch campaign in particular.

“I simply put a request out by email and all these colleagues came forward to volunteer,” said Sarah Lovell of Shoosmiths (pictured third from left).  “It’s good for us individually as well as a business to be involved in community projects like this.”

“This is fantastic,” said Pam Weston, Summerfield School head teacher.  “We want to get involved in our local community and that includes companies like Shoosmiths.”

Dentons LLP staff help pupils take on Jubilee Wood redway – 13.6.17

Four staff from Dentons LLP UMEA joined pupils from Jubilee Wood Primary School in a massive clean-up of the Redway alongside the school.  This was an action for the Citizens:mk Redways Relaunch campaign.

Working with Mitch Michener from Campbell Park Parish Council as well as Dentons, the pupils split into groups to clean different sections of the Redway.

“It’s great to see how enthusiastic the children are,” said Angela Monzione from Dentons.  “What they’re hoping to do is adopt this area and maintain it.  It’s going to happen for years to come, so it’s a project for now and for the future.”

“If we can monitor the area at least once a week, we can keep it clearn,” said a 10-year old member of the School Council.

“I’m using a litter picker and picking up some glass,” said a 7-year-old pupil, “so people riding their bikes won’t fall on it and cut themselves.”

“We love our Redways and want to look after them,” said head teacher Tony Berwick.  “Our children are learning to love Milton Keynes, and that is good news for us all.”

Click here to see short video of Tony Berwick speaking.

Josephine’s testimony

After a year of active leadership in Citizens:mk, taking on the role of student leader for the new Redways Relaunch campaign, 18-year-old Josephine Osei of MK Academy wrote:

“Before I started the Citizens:mk program, I was just like any other teenager. Who had something that they were angry about but did not have any power or motivation to create a change.  Then the opportunity of a lifetime presented itself.

“I realised that actually I could have the power to make a change and I was able to do this through leading the Redways re-launch campaign which so far has been successful and definitely part of my memorable memories.

“Through this citizens program I have learnt to be a leader, one who knows what is right and does it by collaborating with people in power.  I was once told that if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more and become more, then you are a leader. And through this journey, I have seen my actions inspiring other people and as such I know that I have made an impact on someone else’s life and this has been very fulfilling for me.

“One thing that I have been able to overcome is the fear of speaking in an open crowd and I feel that through this program I have become acquainted with this skill and actually I feel unstoppable.  Now, if I want to do something, I feel empowered to do it because my self confidence has increased greatly and truthfully,

In her role as campaign leader, Josephine addressed  various audiences including 70 business people gathered at MK’s City Breakfast Club at thestadium:mk.

“I would personally recommend this role to each and every  student who know that they also want to be a part of a change.”

Pictured above, Josephine speaks directly to the Leader of the Council in front of 400 school pupils outside Marks & Spencer in the city centre.  On behalf of the pupils she asked for, and won, a pledge in MK’s 50th birthday year to make 50 improvements to the Redways.  Click here for more on that action.

Bishop of Oxford backs school competition to combat hate – 25.5.17

The Bishop of Oxford, Rev Steven Croft, joined other guests from  Arriva Buses and Thames Valley Police in an assembly organised by the children of Summerfield Primary School to launch a schools’ poster competition to combat hate.

The poster competition has been overseen by the Open University, who have created the rules and will be holding an exhibition of the children’s work from 12th July with an finale Awards event on 19th July.   Click here for competition rules.

Running the competition was one of the goals set by the Citizens:mk Fight Against Hate campaign which several power-holders signed up to at the 2017 Accountability Assembly.

Pupil Noorah, aged 9, said: “We often hear about wars in other countries as well as conflicts in England. There are many times when even in this city we love so much, harmony is replaced by hate. ”

The school choir showed its love of Milton Keynes and desire to support the Fight Against Hate campaign by singing their own song ‘We Built This City’.

Jiten Patel, a member of the campaign team who works for The Open University, said:  “Summerfield School can be proud of their student who were excellent ambassadors.  They are a credit to their school and left the guests at the launch with a strong impression of the values that are being lived by Summerfield.  The head teacher, staff and parents can rightly be proud of their students.”

Head teacher Pam Weston said:  “The children thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to share their ideas and perform for their visitors. The responses of their ‘VIP’ guests made them realise that they do have a voice and will be listened to when they contribute on issues of local and national importance.”

Fidele Mutwarisibo, chair of the Fight Against Hate campaign, said:  “The moment I stepped into Summerfield I knew this mini assembly was going to be great.  The welcome by the Heateacher, the staff and the pupils was second to none.  The presence of the Bishop of Oxford, the representatives of the Police and Arriva Buses highlighted the timeliness and relevance of our campaign.  The presence of Summerfield’s governors highlighted the importance of partnership.  The leadership of pupils was reassuring.  My lasting memory from this enjoyable event was how very impressive the pupils were. They made a huge difference.”

To thank the guests for attending the assembly, the children gave each guest a box of fresh eggs laid by the school’s own hens – and served them with slices of amazingly delicious cake made with eggs from the hens.

(Photo from Mubasher Maqbool.)

 

Healing through hearing the voices of hate survivors 28th June

This pilot event has been planned by the Fight Against Hate campaign in accordance with one of its four main campaign goals.  It is not for everyone, only up to 16 survivors of hate crime who have registered interest and been formally invited.

Venue: MK Civic Offices, 1 Saxon Gate, Central Milton Keynes, MK9 3EJ

Date: June 28th, 2017

Time: 19:00 – 21:00 hrs

Outline of the Healing through Hearing session

The Fight Against Hate campaign of Citizens:MK has won the support of MK Council in hosting a new approach to reducing the effects of hate crime.  Hate legislation covers five grounds: race/nationality, religion, sexuality, gender identity and disability.

MK Council will host a twilight session, ‘Hearing through Healing’, to hear the voices of residents and/or those working or studying in Milton Keynes who have experienced some form of hate towards them in MK, no matter how big or small.  The aim is to reduce their discomfort by simply giving them the opportunities to listen to each other’s stories about what happened to them.

One or two small facilitated groups will come together to share their stories and be invited to explore feelings and possible next steps.   Finally, each participant will be invited to say what, if anything they are taking away that may help to re-establish their sense of self confidence and self-esteem.  The whole session will take no more than 90 minutes.

All those participating must commit to keeping whatever is said/discussed confidential to the relevant group and nobody’s contribution will be shared outside the facilitating group without their permission.

Please note that this is not a counselling or professional therapy session but rather an opportunity for sharing.

Anyone interested in attending should email fightagainsthatemk@gmail.com.

Participant guidelines

This event is intended to work through, with diverse and like-minded people who have also experienced hate crime, your reflections of your experience.

Using an action learning model the event will give you space to explore issues with the support of an experienced facilitator.

The event will also tap into individuals who may be available to answers any of your questions, for example,  how are police required to support a victim of prejudice based crime.

The event is not there to pre-empt,  so what you get out is what you put in, hopefully the attached briefing gives a good overview of what can be expected.

A key question for participants is ‘ What, if anything might I now need  to bring things to more of a closure or feel more resolved.’

The event will be underpinned by friendly, respectful,  dignified and fair conversations for all those involved.

Any actions arsing from the groups will be required to be actioned by individual members as the event is not geared to advocate or process issues on any individuals behalf.

If you require this information in a different format please do not hesitate to ask.

We require that you confirm your attendance also commit to confidentiality and consent for generic information to be used in the future.

If you wish to talk to a facilitator beforehand then please email fightagainsthatemk@gmail.com

Weaving Trust with Middle East Cultural Group – 12.5.17

On Friday evening 12th May, 50 people took  part in a Weaving Trust event hosted by Middle Eastern Cultural Group (MECG) at Bancroft Community Centre.

“I feel very happy,” said Ayser Al Jawad, leader of MECG.  “You can feel it was good because people didn’t want to stop talking when the bell rang.”

Click here to see a short clip of Weaving Trust in action.

“It was obvious just from watching people, and later from the feedback I received, that everyone enjoyed it and appreciated it,” said Alan Bainbridge of MK Quaker Meeting, who chairs the Weaving Trust group.  “I think we can say that some trust was woven.”

Click here to see the text messages people sent at the end of the session.

Voter Registration – how you can help

The deadline for voters to register for the upcoming parliamentary election is 22nd May.   Leaders are encouraged to promote voter registration within their institutions, and are invited to attend a training session on Monday 15th May 5-7pm at Church of Christ the Cornerstone, to help with this.  Here are some ideas:

  • talk about it at Friday/Saturday/Sunday religious events and/or through 121s with people who may not know how to register
  • print this  ‘Register to Vote in 4 steps’ poster and put it on noticeboards
  • send through mailing lists and newsletters (include the poster as an insert, or include the blurb and link in an existing newsletter or mass email)
  • and via social media.

There is a simple Voter Registration form  online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote .  If you want to print the registration form itself here’s the link to a printable version, click here.

It can work really well to print the forms where you have large groups of people in one place, but remember to collect them all afterwards and deliver them to your local council.  If you collect large numbers then it is worth tipping off your local council’s electoral registration office so they know you are coming and they have time to process them.

The stumbling block is often that people don’t know their National Insurance number, so it is worth putting some thought into how to get around that.  It is possible to submit a paper version with a note saying that they don’t have a record of the NI number, but there is a possibility that this will delay the processing of the form.  Though that is better than not submitting anything at all.

If you have any questions, contact Tom Bulman, tel 07962 838685.

Accountability Assembly 2017 pledges to build bridges, not walls

259 individuals from 18 member institutions staked their claim in Citizens:mk for the year ahead and heard pledges of commitment from power-holders to build ‘bridges, not walls’ between MK’s diverse communities in this, its 50th birthday year.

Mayor Steven Coventry shook the hands of each member institution’s representative as they came up to call out their institution’s commitment – people brought and dues paid – for the year ahead.

The Assembly were shown a video of the MK Council Leader’s apology for absence and accountability for actions he has taken over the past year – click here to see the video.

Jo Astor of Network Rail pledged to host the biggest-yet Living Wage Business Breakfast at Quadrant:mk on 7th November 2017,   “We plan to welcome 50 Living Wage employers,” she said, “and wish the Citizens:mk campaign team every success in achieving that target.”

Having earlier performed a mime of ‘building bridges, not walls’ to John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ song by the Youth Choir of Church of Christ the Cornerstone, the pupils of Summerfield Primary School performed ‘We Built This City’ (pictured above) to great applause.  “I just wish we’d all got up and danced to that one!” said Carmel Schmid, a seasoned Citizens:mk campaigner, after the event.

Harry Smith, Year 9 pupil of MK Academy, asked The Parks Trust to meet in June with members of the Redways Relaunch campaign team to plan the cutting back of bushes on the Redways to increase students’ sense of safety.  In response, Alex Chapman, a trustee of The Parks Trust, said:  “We are willing to be  part of your campaign and initially help each school identify which of their Redway landscaping concerns we can help with.   We will listen and respond quickly to any suggestions from Citizens:mk for ways we could make improvements to Redways in our responsibility.”

Following testimony from external guest Olumuyiwa Adekunle, the Fight Against Hate campaign team gave local testimony and secured important pledges from power-holders, all of whom then signed a ‘Fight Against Hate charter:

  • from Arriva Buses, to run a hate crime awareness raising poster campaign on MK buses.
  • from Pam Weston of Summerfield School, to run a schools poster competition to raise awareness of hate crime.
  • from Liz Gifford of MK Council, to host a peer support meeting for victims of hate crimes in MK.
  • from Supt Vince Grey of Thames Valley Police, to plan a restorative justice event.

Tyrone Blackford-Swaries (pictured above), recently appointed Director of MK Mental Health Services, heard testimonies and agreed to work with the Citizens:mk Mental Health campaign team, meeting quarterly, to help achieve its goals.

Leaders from the three largest political parties in MK Council – Labour, Conservative and LibDem, also pledged support for Citizens:mk’s campaigns 2017-18 and signed the Fight Against Hate charter.

In an evaluation session immediately after the event, this year’s Assembly scored 7 out of 10.

Pupils in mass action for Redway improvements – 21.4.17

On Friday 21st April, 400 pupils from five MK schools walked from their schools to the city centre to ask the Leader of the Council for 50 Redways improvements in MK’s 50th birthday year.   This was the first major action of the Redways Relaunch campaign, which was filmed and broadcast on BBC TV Look East.

Two pupil leaders, from MK Academy and St. Paul’s Catholic School (pictured below left), knocked for Cllr Pete Marland at Civic Offices and asked him to accompany them across the road to City Square, outside Marks & Spencers, where all the other students and pupils were gathered.

Employees from local businesses including Dentons, Santander and Shoosmiths, joined the action and pledged to help support the schools on Redway litter patrols later this term.

Pupils collected rubbish along the way and presented it to the Council Leader.  A told him:  “We are fed up with the litter, broken glass and other rubbish dumped on the Redways and we want to clear it up. Our school council are willing to look after the Redway next to our school and we have already started to pick up litter and think about ways to make it a better route to the city centre.”

A survey of 2,300 pupils in six schools showed that 80% of pupils use the Redways but only 40% think they are safe (survey results).

A pupil from Southwood Primary School said: “The more people use the redways, the less scary it is”.

The main goal of the campaign is to gain pledges from MK Council and The Parks Trust to plan and implement 50 Redway improvements. The priority improvements which the pupils want are:

  • litter removal (backed by 67% of the survey respondents)
  • improved lighting (62%) and
  • cut back hedges (56%).

Lucy Gray of Shoosmiths LLP (pictured below) said: “Seeing Milton Keynes through the eyes of local pupils gives you a very clear view of what our local Redways should look like.  Our colleagues love volunteering in the community and working with schools and that is why we are really looking forward to joining forces with Summerfield and making a real difference to our Redways.”

Luke Farrell of Santander UK said:  “It’s really important that children have a safe route to school and we’re delighted to be able to do our bit to support our local community.”

Cllr Marland pledged to support the pupils’ goal of 50 realistic Redway improvements and organise for his senior officers to meet with the pupils so that plans would be agreed before the end of MK’s 50th birthday year.  For this he was thanked with a garland decorated with pupil comments on the Redways.

The five schools who took part in the action were members of Citizens:mk, an alliance of 23 community groups including churches and Muslim associations as well as schools, who had taken part in a joint training session back in September and resolved then to launch a Redways campaign.  The schools (and number of pupils they brought to this action) were:  Jubilee  Wood Primary (22), MK Academy (13), St. Monica’s Catholic Primary (8), St. Paul’s (7) and Summerfield (360).

“We value active citizenship and training young leaders from schools is an important part of what Citizens:mk does,” said Lucian Hudson, Chair of Citizens:mk and Director of Communications at The Open University.

“I am really impressed by the children,” said Tony Berwick (pictured in grey top above), Headteacher of Jubilee Wood School.  “They have put their case across  with style.  We now hope the wider community here in Milton Keynes will support this campaign.”

Accountability Assembly Invitation

Citizens:mk  invites you to its annual Accountability Assembly

celebrating

Imagine MK beyond 50:  Building Bridges, not Walls

Tuesday 25th April 2017, 6.15pm for 6.30-8.00pm

Church of Christ the Cornerstone, 300 Saxon Gate West, MK9 2ES

RSVP to info@citizensmk.org.uk or book online.

Click here for Council Leader’s video Apology and Accountability 2016-17.

Imagine a Milton Keynes where it is clean and safe for children to walk or cycle to school, to play outside with their friends…

Imagine a Milton Keynes where communities and individuals get along, knowing that they have the same basic interests and desires, rather than worry about the things that make them different…

Imagine a Milton Keynes which provides support and assistance to those who are most in need, those who are sometimes unable to cope with life’s difficulties…

Imagine a Milton Keynes in which people are focused on building bridges, not walls.

On 25th April, Citizens:MK will hold its annual Accountability Assembly and present to the people of Milton Keynes and their leaders three campaign proposals to help diverse communities improve their city.  The three campaigns being promoted, and for which Citizens:mk seeks the support of Milton Keynes authorities, are: 

Last year’s campaigns were: Living Wage, Weaving Trust, Community Energy and Refugees Welcome.

Citizens:MK is an alliance of 23 diverse member institutions including faith, education and other community organisations.

For further information, contact Tom Bulman, tel 07962 838685.

Jubilee Wood school pupils address City Breakfast – 5.4.17

Headteacher Tony Berwick introduced Year 6 pupils (aged 10-11) to present to more than 70 business guests their plans for the Redways Relaunch campaign.  Also presenting was campaign leader Josephine Osei, Year 12 student from Milton Keynes Academy.

“As a group of students we want to improve the Redways because many of us use them to go to and from school and we want them to be cleaner and look better,” said one of the pupils. “We think more people across Milton Keynes will use the Redways as a healthy way to get around if they are better cared for.”

“As children and young people we are fed up with the litter, broken glass and other rubbish dumped by selfish people and we want to clear it up,” said another pupil.  “At my school our school council are willing to look after the Redway next to our school and we have already started to pick up litter and think about ways to make it a better route to the city centre.”

Six local schools, all members of Citizens:mk, have organised a day of action for Friday 21st April at 2pm.  The schools will be walk along the Redways to the city centre to ask the Leader of the Council to pledge the Council’s support for the campaign goal of 50 improvements to the Redways in MK’s 50th birthday year.

Business leaders and their employees were invited to join the action on 21st Apil – also to help a school on a Redway litter patrol at a later date and sponsor a sign to show they support a local school taking care of their Redway.

“I was really impressed with the children today,” said Tony Berwick, “and they put their case across to the business leaders with style.  We now hope the wider community here in Milton Keynes will support this campaign.”

For further information, contact Tony Berwick.

Living Wage is LUSH – 29.3.17

The Living Wage campaign team paid a visit to LUSH in the shopping centre to say thank you for becoming an accredited Living Wage employer. Team members dressed up in bathrobe, bath hat and slippers to meet the manager and staff, and celebrate the new pay standard for the store, £8.45p per hour for all staff and contract workers.

“This is MK’s first city centre retail store to achieve Living Wage accreditation,” said Living Wage campaign leader, Debbie Wilson. “I don’t mind dressing up in my bath gear to celebrate this!”

“It will make a massive difference to our staff,” said MK store manager, Hannah Downs. “We’ve always paid above the national minimum wage, now our staff are being paid a little bit more of what they actually deserve. This is what a lot of our managers across the country have been fighting for.”

“I travel quite far to get to work and the cost of that won’t make such a big dent in my wage now,” said Lauren Gerrie (pictured left below), who has worked for LUSH for 18 months. “I am saving for a mortgage so it will help with that too. It also means a lot because LUSH as a company are about ethics and making a difference. Living Wage will help with that.”

Monika Gleiznyte (pictured right below), who has worked for LUSH for two years, said: “I feel grateful. To get a bit extra will make a big difference.”

LUSH becomes the 41st employer in Milton Keynes to achieve Living Wage accreditation. Citizens:mk’s Living Wage campaign team now has just nine more employers to achieve its target of 50 to mark MK’s golden anniversary.   It is hoped that at least nine more employers will achieve accreditation before the end of 2017 and begin enjoying the proven benefits of increased staff motivation, lower staff sickness and improved staff retention.

Summerfield pupils show Council Leader green energy – 29.3.17

Children from Year 5 and 6 of Summerfield School on Bradwell Common got to quiz the Leader of the Council, Pete Marland, about his commitment to renewable energy when he visited the school on Wednesday 28th March.

Cllr Marland was invited by the Citizens MK Community Energy Campaign to come and see the children’s performance which was first showcased at the MK Community Energy Conference.  The performance included a series of sketches which highlighted the need to save energy and generate more from renewable sources.

At the end of the performance, Cllr Marland presented certificates to all the children who participated in the performance, and was given an original piece of artwork for his office wall, which showed a sun inside a light bulb, symbolising the power of the sun to power everyday objects (main picture).

He has committed to taking the school’s green energy campaign seriously, and announced that by 2030 50% of MK’s energy would come from renewable sources.

Interdirect Proud to be a Living Wage Employer

Milton Keynes leading full service marketing agency, Interdirect has become an accredited Living Wage employer.

Nicholas Mann, Managing Director of Interdirect explains why he feels it is important that everyone working for his business receives a Living Wage: “With 21 years’ experience as an employer I know and understand the importance of building and maintaining a happy and fulfilled team.

“There are many ways in which we can show our appreciation for the hard work and dedication that our employees put into the business, and a fair rate of pay is a crucial one.”

Living Wage Foundation Director, Katherine Chapman said: “We are delighted to welcome Interdirect to the Living Wage movement as an accredited employer.  The best employers are voluntarily signing up to pay the Living Wage now.”

Summerfield pupils meet Shoosmiths for Redways Relaunch – 6.3.17

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.”

 

Refugees Welcome MK thanks Dentons solicitors – 21.2.17

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.

This marks the legal establishment of what began as a campaign within Citizens:mk, the alliance of diverse community groups that works for a thriving, inclusive and fairer Milton Keynes.

“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.

Jubilee Wood pupils take Redways campaign to Dentons – 27.2.18

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.”

 

Living Wage Action on CMK Solicitors – 21.2.17

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 launched at Delegates Assembly – 7.2.17

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.”

Turnout Turnout pledge for 25.4.17
Brooklands Farm Primary School 3 15
Church of Christ the Cornerstone 7 15
Future Wolverton Apologies received
Global Outreach Foundation 2 15
Jubilee Wood Primary School 6 15
Middle East Cultural Group 3 17
MK Academy 3 15
MK Muslim Association 2 15
MK Quaker Meeting 6 16
MK YMCA Apologies received
Open University 1 10
Pakistani & Kashmiri Muslim Welfare Association
Q:alliance 5 15
St. Augustine’s RC Church 6 15
St. Francis & St. Mary’s Catholic Church 1 10
St. Frideswide’s Church 2 5
St. Monica’s Catholic Primary School
St. Paul’s Catholic School 5 15
Southwood Primary School Apologies received
Stantonbury Ecumenical Partnership 6 12
Summerfield Primary School 9 20
Transition MK 8 15
Truby’s Garden Tea Room 5 15
guests 5
TOTAL 85 255

 

50 MK organisations create Weaving Trust 50 – 28.1.17

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.”

 

Weaving Trust at HMP Woodhill – 6.12.16

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.

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 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.

2016-11-22 19.51.17

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.

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, 21 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.

henry fried

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. 

unnamed (2)

unnamed (1)

screen-shot-2015-11-26-at-19-20-01 (2)screen-shot-2015-11-26-at-19-20-16

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.

besty

“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.”

IMG_1843 - goodn

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.

DSCN1001

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.

DSCN0948

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.

Living Wage at Ikea – 25.4.16

20160423_113142-1-1

On the 1st of April IKEA introduced the Living Wage for all its co-workers. In the Milton Keynes Store. Staff were also treated to a celebration Living Wage breakfast and a box of goodies.

LW3

Tanya Hamilton, HR Manager of the MK store said “I am very proud of IKEA for paying the Living Wage. I am really looking forward, together with my team, to exploring the relationship with Citizens MK and the Living Wage team.”

LW4

LW5

Invitation to ‘Building Community’ Assembly 26.4.16

Members and non-members are invited to attend our annual Accountability Assembly on 26th April, this year themed ‘Building Community’.  Here you will see Citizens:mk in action as member institutions rally their members to support our four campaigns.  We will ask for pledges from power-holders, including the Leader of the Council and business leaders, to support our goals.  We will also hold them to account for pledges made last year.  Leaders of all main political parties will attend.  See the leader of your institution or click here to book a place.

Bus Passengers Charter At Last – 14.3.16

On Monday 14th March, the new MK Bus Passengers Charter was launched at The Bowl. This document outlines the rights and responsibilities of bus passengers in MK and takes another step towards improved bus services.

It also gives a big tick to MK Council who pledged to Citizens:mk to help make this happen.

“Bus transport has been a big issue for some time,” said Jacqueline Eustace of St. Augustine’s Catholic Church and Citizens:mk Fair Transport campaign group. “Although the bulk of the work on this has been done MK Bus Users Group, our campaign helped get this going in the first place.”

“I’m very pleased we’ve got it off the ground at last,” said Peter Ballantyne, Chair of MK Bus Users Group. “The next stage is to get MK Council to publish it and get in posted in bus shelters across MK.”

Click here for the new bus passenger charter

Southwood School meets Leader of Council – 10.3.16

16 school councillors from Southwood Primary School visited the Leader of MK Council, to talk about the problems they are experiencing at the back gate of their school because of too many parents collecting their children by car.

After hearing testimony of the problem from several school councillors, aged 7-11, Cllr Marland pledged to send a Council roads officer to the school to investigate the problems.

“It was very good to meet the pupils and hear them talking about real issues,” said Cllr Marland. “This is one of the best parts of my job!”

“The pupils really enjoyed the experience,” said deputy headteacher Elaine Hawkins, “and they are enjoying working on this campaign.”

The school councillors will be holding Cllr Marland to account for his pledge when they meet again at the Citizens:mk Accountability Assembly on 26th April.

alliance of diverse community organisztions acting together for a thriving, inclusive and fairer Milton Keynes