All posts by Tom Bulman

part-time Community Organiser for Citizens:mk

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.   Two pupil leaders, from MK Academy and St. Paul’s Catholic School, knocked for Cllr Pete Marland at Civic Offices and asked him to join them across the road in City Square, outside Marks & Spencers.

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.  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 (7), St. Monica’s Catholic Primary (8), St. Paul’s (12) 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, 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.”

The action was filmed and broadcast on BBC TV Look East.

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.

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