Two face-to-face surveys were carried out at the Hackney Carriage taxi rank outside MK Central Station Continue reading Shocking results of Hate crime survey with MK taxi drivers
At Acorn House on 12th March, 19 people (pictured) attended a Restorative Justice workshop hosted by Police Area Commander Yvette Hitch and led by Ann Jansen-East of Thames Valley Restorative Justice Service.
The workshop focused on what works in restorative justice, featuring powerful testimony from two women with direct experience of the process following abusive relationships.
Testimonies were also provided by Arif Masters of Zainabiya Centre and Cory Bond, formerly of YMCA MK.
At the end of the workshop, Area Commander Hitch pledged to:
- increase the number of cases in MK where a restorative justice approach will be used (where appropriate)
- ensure all her officers and staff have input from Ann Jansen-East
- meet with members of the Citizens:mk Fight Against Hate campaign team to discuss the costs and benefits of growing police use of restorative justice in MK, especially looking at what has not worked in restorative justice approaches elsewhere and what could be done differently in the MK context.
- attend the Citizens:mk Accountability Assembly on 24th April (if available).
Future discussions will include examination of what does not work in restorative justice and what could be one differently in the MK context?
Area Commander Hitch said: “I felt the event was really useful in terms of highlighting how victims can be empowered by the process and how offenders gain an insight into the effect of their behaviour on others.”
Following the launch of the Fight Against Hate campaign poster display on the front of Church of Christ the Cornerstone last month (see news story), the banners have been moved to Jubilee Wood Primary School.
The photo above shows pupils chatting about the display a few hours after its arrival. It is expected that more than 600 people – school pupils, parents, staff, governors and visitors – will pass the display in the next few days.
The posters will be displayed here for a while, before moving to other participating primary schools across the city.
34 people attended a Weaving Trust event at Jubilee Wood Primary School. While their children joined a football tournament organised by Galaciticos FC, parents and others from the Fishermead community enjoyed eight short one-to-one conversations with guests including Citizens:mk members and representatives from Fishermead Residents Association and Thames Valley Police.
Head teacher Tony Berwick said: “This event was a very important first step in building an alliance across Fishermead committed to raising the profile of this amazing community and our school will help in any way we can.”
Before the Weaving Trust circle of conversations, there were speeches in favour of community cohesion: Tony Berwick, Headteacher; Sophia Kibirige and Fidele Mutwarisibo, Citizens:mk; PCSO Zoe Genova and PCSO Paul Colbourn of Thames Valley Police; Terry Baines of Fishermead Residents Association; and two pupils from Jubilee Wood School Council spoke to the group
“Fishermead is my home,” said a Year 4 pupil (pictured below with a fellow Councillor), “and I like living here.”
In the plenary after the Weaving Trust circle, many people commented positively on the diversity and growing community cohesion in Fishermead.
Participants were then asked to write down their priority issue for action, as shown below. These issues will be discussed by the School Council and two prioritised for taking to the Citizens:mk Leaders Forum.
- Raise awareness about mental health especially among young people
- Concrete, boring, uninspiring, urban
- Post office missed
- Deliberate damage to cars
- Stop public drinking
- Give parents more parenting tools to help their children – mental and emotional support
- More activities in Fishermead and whole MK
- I like to see more interaction within the community
- Create more opportunities for community to interact with each other to promote cohesion
- More meetings and more events for family
- How to reach new residents on estates in MK inc Fishermead – community engagement
- Getting wider sector together like Eastern Europeans to get a better mix of community
- Create a platform to spread the good work that is being done in Fishermead
- Create community platform for exchange of ideas
- Community cohesion
- Rubbish is always a problem. Encourage each resident to keep own frontage clean
- Rubbish dump outside of the house
- Litter and recycling
- Litter. Stop littering
- Litter. Improve first impressions
- More teenage activities so we could meet more people and teenagers won’t be bored
- Engage teenagers in after school activities
- Community youth groups
- Put up more equipment for older students
- Provide activities for young people to do after school
- Clear redways
- Trim redways
- Community clean up redway, pirate park
- Issue with pirate park. Some people find it unsafe
- Need for greater safety at night at the pirate park
- Lighting on redways is missing
- We would like the community gates to the corner flats made more secure, preventing groups from congregating in the stairwells
- Pavements. I have fallen over before.
- Level paths so children don’t trip up.
On Saturday 21st October, 20 guests form 9 institutions, including Supt. Yvette Hitch from Thames Valley Police, were hosted in a Weaving Trust at the Zainabiya Centre, facilitated by Alan Bainbridge of MK Quaker Meeting. Many conversations were enjoyed and thoughts on how to tackle hate crime were shared, including:
- It is encouraging that so few of us have personally experienced hatred and we must not allow ourselves to be overwhelmed and become despondent by negative news stories.
- On the other and we were a self selected and somewhat privileged group. We may be living in a bubble. How do we engage more marginalised people?
- We cannot afford to sit on our hands. Someone referred to Martin Niemöller’s poem pointing out that if we don’t stand up for those who are oppressed then in the end no one will be left to speak for us.
Talking to people after the event, facilitator Alan reflected that there may have been deeper conversations about the issues than was represented in the telephone texts he collected. “It may be difficult sometimes for participants to collect and record truly penetrating insights,” he said. “However, the value of Weaving Trust lies more in the personal contact and conversations – it is our article of faith that dialogue creates its own benefits.”
Children from Summerfield Primary School sang to the chief police officer and other city leaders at the city church in a plea for more action on hate crime.
In a day of action organised by Citizens:mk, as part of national Hate Crime Awareness week, the school choir sang a specially composed song, ‘Love is stronger than hate’. See video.
“People look different, but inside we’re all the same,” the children sang. “If we stand up strong together, we can stamp out hate forever.”
Clapped on by 75 supporters from 16 MK faith, education and business organisations, the song helped to secure specific pledges of further action from city power-holders.
Earlier the audience heard a series of testimonies from victims of hate crime, including male and female muslims who had experienced Islamophobic hate against them and a gay man who had been assaulted in a club for dancing with his partner.
Bart Gamber, Director of Programmes at MK Community Foundation, reported that there has been a 25% increase in reports
of race-based hate crime in Milton Keynes since 2015.
After the children’s song, Yvette Hitch, Superintendent LPA Commander of Thames Valley Police (pictured below), pledged to organise a workshop on restorative justice and nominate a liaison officer to monitor and meet with Citizens:mk quarterly.
Hannah O’Neil, Deputy Leader of the Council, pledged to host two Healing through hearing events for victims of hate crimes and send two representatives to the new restorative justice workshop.
Kieran Lawson, General Manager of Arriva Buses, officially launched a new bus poster campaign to raise awareness of hate. “Arriva wants our passengers and drivers to be fully safe at all times,” he said, “so raising awareness of hate crime through this poster campaign is absolutely in our mission.”
Fidele Mutwarisibo, who leads the Citizens:mk Fight Against Hate campaign team, said: “Milton Keynes is a great place to live and work, but there has been a 14% increase in reported hate crime over the past year and we must work together to do something about it.”
As part of the Day of Action, two large banners featuring the children’s ‘love is stronger than hate’ posters, were hung from the front of Church of Christ the Cornerstone. The Rev John Robertson, Director of MK Mission Partnership, officially unveiled them.
Citizens UK’s Esmat Jeraj, who presented the ‘Missing Muslims’ report published earlier this year by the national commission on Islam, Participation & Public Life, said: “It was truly an inspiring event, with strong and diverse turnout from individuals of all ages and backgrounds (from the LGBTQ alliance to the Church and Mosque). The passion from all those speaking was evident and reflections from attendees was that this was an uplifting and inspirational event.”
For further information about the Citizens:mk Fight Against Hate campaign, click here.
I loved the Fight Against Hate action day that I attended and found it a hugely motivational and positive event. It was great that the children were so involved too, not only when singing the song, but when they had the opportunity to question and listen to others and share their own experiences of hate.
It was particularly beneficial for them to hear from other people’s experiences as this helps them to understand that words and actions have consequences but also that they are not alone if they have experienced hate directed at them.
Following on from my Leadership Training with Citizens MK, the importance of reaching significant power holders was demonstrated at the action day when pledges were made by people in power to support the anti hate campaign. This also showed the children how powerful we can all be in making a change and working together.
When writing the Love is Stronger Than Hate song, I really wanted it to highlight that differences are not reasons to divide and that all our friends are different from us but fundamentally we all want and need the same things. We are responsible for our feelings and actions and, by working together, we are powerful enough to make changes without pointing blame at others. When we are young, many of our thoughts are shaped by others’ opinions so it is important for children to question things and really recognise that hate is due to lack of understanding and isn’t based in fact.
The children love singing and I love writing songs and lyrics to teach them about their world and what a positive impact they can have.
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.”
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, firstname.lastname@example.org .
(Pictured above are pupils of Summerfield Primary School Council after receiving their ‘Young Citizen 2016-17’ awards at the end of June.)
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.
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 formed part of MK’s celebration of its 50th birthday, with a special emphasis on celebrating MK’s unity, justice and welcome to outsiders.
This pilot event was 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 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 hosted 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.
Two small facilitated groups came together to share their stories and be invited to explore feelings and possible next steps. Finally, each participant was 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 took 90 minutes.
All those participating committed to keeping whatever was said/discussed confidential to the relevant group and nobody’s contribution being shared outside the facilitating group without their permission.
This not a counselling or professional therapy session but rather an opportunity for sharing.
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 email@example.com
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.
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.)