Category Archives: House the Homeless

Future of community-led housing in MK – come to discussion 25th June

You are invited to attend a free film and discussion event hosted by Transition Town MK (TTMK) in partnership with MK CLT and a number of other community groups in Milton Keynes.  The event is on Monday 25th June 2018, 7.30pm, at the CentreCom community centre in Central MK.   This will include discussions on the variety of community-led housing models. (6 short films, approx 6-10 minutes long on successful schemes in UK).  Click here to attend.

At the  Accountability Assembly on 24th April, Citizens:mk obtained pledges from all MK Council party leaders pre-election to support the principle of setting up a ‘Community Land Trust’ (CLT) in Milton Keynes.   This is a goal of the Citizens:mk  House The Homeless campaign.

The steering group of the fledgling CLT meet every three week (all are welcome to attend the next meeting on 4th July – contact Lawrence.morgan@chamk.org.uk).

Lawrence Morgan, of Transition MK is leader of the House the Homeless campaign.  He is also a member of The Big Local Conniburrow partnership and works for ‘Community Housing Action:MK’ (CHAMK), a start-up social enterprise which has been lobbying the council to adopt community-led housing since start of 2017.

In the recent elections, MK Labour Party included community-led housing in their manifesto, as follows:

  • Use MKDP land to deliver more truly affordable housing, requiring at least 36% affordable housing on development sites.
  • Develop a new housing co-operative, by working with local people on proposals for a Community Land Trust to provide and maintain truly affordable housing.
  • Bring disused and empty housing back into use, by using all powers available to the council including use of Compulsory Purchase Orders.
  • 75,000 new truly affordable homes by 2050, as part of any additional future growth.

Lawrence Morgan said, “It’s been a long journey, when I arrived back in England in 2016 at the high of the Brexit referendum campaigns, after having been in the southern hemisphere for 3 years. I moved to Milton Keynes as have some families ties here, my first 8 months were sleeping on my grandmother’s conservatory floor and an unreliable job on zero hours for Tesco distribution centre in Fenny Lock.  Everything seems to of changed in my home country, I had serious case of post travelling blues borderline mild depression.

“Given all that I’m really glad I did come to MK. So much happening in the way of grassroot community action here. It took me a good solid year of trying to recruit other people to help me, with not much luck in mobilising those who said were interested. After meeting my co-founder and friend Andy Coaton at a People’s assembly conference in Wolverton CHAMK was born. I joined TTMK and eventually got involved with Citizens:mk. That is where things really took off”

“This movement is nothing new, Milton Keynes has a history of co-operative housing models in the form of Rainbow housing Co-op in New Bradwell and Giffard Park Housing Co-operative in Giffard Park. It’s been steadily growing across the UK and backed by central government in the form of the “community housing fund” and other powers through devolution and the Localism Act 2011. We are seeing elements of David Cameron’s’Big society’ coming through.

“We do not have to look far to see further examples of community-led housing. In our other two neighbouring cities along the growth corridor, Cambridge and Oxford there are great examples of community groups working in partnership with their local community foundation, community action organisations and supported by the City Councils.

“Given that Milton Keynes has a heritage of innovation from its very inception by the MK Development Corporation, we are in a prime position to leverage the resources that are being pumped into the growth corridor by central government. If this is going to be sustainable growth in the area we have to look outside the box of commercial developers who use a broken house market for profits, do not provide anywhere near actually genuine affordable homes compared to earnings.

“The planMK master plans states, the Council will strongly support community groups which to use custom and self-build. In order to achieve this, you can list yourself on the self build register, Self-Build & Custom Housebuilding Act 2015,   MK Council is obliged to maintain a register of individuals seeking to acquire land in the Borough for a self-build or custom-build home.  Local authorities have to legally allocate self serviced plots on a 3 year circle. The register can be found here: https://www.milton-keynes.gov.uk/property/self-build-register

“Community Housing Action:MK is preparing itself to become a non-profit developer of genuinely affordable co-operative homes with the aid of the MK Community Land Trust which has the ability to hold assets for the benefit of the community in perpetuity.

“30% of the price of a house being high, is because the buildings are connected to the high values of the land which they sit in, by working with the MK CLT, we can separate that land value from the cost of building new homes, which are co-designed with those that will live in them and provide highly energy and heating efficient homes with low running costs. Also aiding in fighting fuel poverty when you also take the living environment around the homes into account and include communal food gardens you are also then lower people’s dependency on rising food costs from corporate suppliers and creating further benefit on health and wellbeing, the social impact has great potential. We are in discussions with some key senior officers and Councillors who support this aim.”

All those wishes to support the work being carried out by CHAMK and MK CLT can link and share their facebook page www.facebook.com/CommunityHousingAction

 

 

 

 

 

Citizens’ action on Affordable Housing consultation

Following the request by Lawrence Morgan, leader of our House the Homeless campaign team at the Accountability Assembly (centre in picture), here’s an action you can take to help create “genuinely” affordable homes in MK today.

We urge you to email a comment to MK Council’s Affordable Housing consultation by this Friday 27th April.

Below is our recommended comment, but please use your own words as you wish…

To: development.plans@milton-keynes.gov.uk

Subject line:  Affordable Housing SPD

Email Body: 

Greetings Council officer, I am writing today after attending the Citizens:mk Accountability Assembly and being made aware of your current consultation. These are the amendments I feel you should make:

Units under affordable housing rent model or LHA (whichever is lower) to be increased by a further 10% to what is already in the SPD. Social rent increased by another 5% in the document. With additional points:

  • Need for more diverse variety of housing tenure (include community-led housing models, CLTs,, co-op housing, coliving, cohousing etc) and include this into your affordable housing percentage to create “genuinely affordable” housing.
  • Priority of land allocation to be made available for community-led housing groups & self-build in support of Plan:MK section 7.43 (policy HN5).

House the Homeless – Day of Action 16.3.18

Citizens:mk partnered with YMCA Milton Keynes for a day of action to promote awareness and support for the new strategy of MK Homelessness Partnership and MK Council in addressing homelessness in MK.  The aims of the Day were to:

  1. Educate MK residents including children about homelessness and what city organisations (MK Council, voluntary organisations and businesses) are doing about it
  2. Celebrate the achievement of MK Homelessness Partnership producing its first MKHP Strategic Review Dec 2017 and MK Council approving a new Rough Sleeping Reduction Strategy  to reduce the number of people sleeping rough to zero by 2021.
  3. Collaborate in building power to support MK Council and MK Homelessness Partnership in achieving their goals.

First, at lunch time, pupils from three local primary schools enjoyed a facilitated Q&A session with four people who have experienced rough sleeping.  Click here to see what happened.

At 7.30pm, guests had an opportunity to quiz those in positions of leadership in addressing homelessness:  Cllr Peter Marland, Leader of the Council; Gamiel Yafai, Chair of MK Homelessness Partnership; Simon Green, CEO of YMCA MK; Lawrence Morgan and Suzanna Raymond of the Citizens:mk House the Homelessness campaign.  Guests enjoyed asking questions about the recommendations in the Strategic Review and their personal experiences of developing and delivering them (Cllr Marland pictured below)

At 9pm, 55 guests attended a House the Homeless Assembly at which Gamiel Yafai received a Citizens:mk Gold Award for MK Homelessness Partnership (pictured below) for developing a strategy with the goal of ending homelessness in MK.

Towards the end of the Assembly, a film was shown of Summerfield School Choir singing a song about homelessness, ‘We Will Fix You’.

After the Assembly, Ian Roberts and band played live music to entertain Sleep Easy volunteers as they prepared to bed down in the cold to raise money for YMCA.  Although the temperature didn’t get below freezing until 6am, the one-night volunteer ‘rough sleepers’ felt the chill and discomfort of sleeping rough in winter.   Click here if you would like to contribute to their fund-raising.

Truby’s Garden Tea Room, sponsored by Meals by Malik – a local Muslim Woman caterer) and the owner of a small Muslim led printing company Good Response, provided meals for those sleeping out and refreshments for those attending the Assembly.

Click here for link to recent MKFM radio interview with campaign leaders.

Children question homeless people at YMCA

At lunchtime on Friday 16th March, 16 pupils from three member primary schools visited YMCA MK to meet and interview four people who have direct experience of sleeping rough.

The aim of the event was to give the pupils a chance to get answers to some of the questions they had in researching for the House the Homelessness campaign, launched by Citizens:mk in February.

Pupil Rhianna Milne of Summerfield Primary School wrote afterwards:  “I have learned that homeless people don’t tell people because they’re embarrassed of people looking down on them.”

Another pupil, Olivia of St Monica’s Catholic Primary School, wrote:  “I liked that we got to talk to other people and get to know the experience they had.”

Another pupil, Nawaal of Jubilee Wood Primary School, wrote:  “It is hard to believe how people cope with homelessness.  I am grateful.”

Tom Davis (pictured), who had spent the previous night sleeping rough, said:  “Their questions were so intelligent and compassionate.  It was inspiring to hear how the young people have taken action to address homelessness.  I think we have potential campaigners!”

“This will inform our fundraising and awareness raising efforts,” said Rob O’Malley, Head teacher of St. Monica’s Primary School.

“We watched as our children demonstrated such compassion and care when speaking with our hosts,” wrote Ms Frost, teacher at Jubilee Wood Primary School.  “We were amazed as our children’s hearts melted as they listened and empathised with the experiences of others.”

To find out more about the Day of Action on Homelessness 16th March, click here.

Campaign leaders meet Leader of Council at Civic Offices

On Tuesday 13th March, campaign leaders met Cllr Peter Marland, Leader of MK Council, in his office.

First the pupils of three member schools – Jubilee Wood Primary, Summerfield Primary and MK Academy – presented evidence of their frustration that MK Council has still not provided a list dates for the scheduling of improvements to the Redways as part of his commitment to the Redways Relaunch campaign.  Cllr Marland agreed to arrange a meeting with the acting Head of Highways and report to the Citizens:mk Accountability Assembly on 24th April.

Then the pupils of Jubilee Wood Primary School shared their feelings about seeing rough sleepers in MK, stating that it made them feel “sad”, “guilty” and “disappointed”.  Lawrence Morgan, leader of the House the Homeless campaign, secured a pledge from Cllr Marland to attend the upcoming House the Homeless Assembly on 16th March and formally agree there to partnership in this important campaign (pictured below).

Action this Friday to support end to homelessness by 2021

As a first step towards the primary goal of our new House The Homeless campaign, Citizens:mk leaders have met with the Chair of MK Homelessness Partnership (MKHP) and agreed to work together.

At a special night-time assembly on Friday 16th March, Gamiel Yafai will receive a Citizens Gold Award for MKHP’s inspiring achievement in producing a Strategic Review to shift MK ‘from managing to ending homelessness’.  98 people from 13 Citizens:mk member institutions have pledged to attend.  Click here to come too.

MKHP is the Partnership through which MK Council has worked for 18 months with local homelessness organisations including Winter Night Shelter, Open Door, MK Bus Shelter and YMCA MK. Its mission is supported by all political parties on MK Council which, while managing the pressures of a greatly reduced budget, has agreed substantial funding to address the issue and end homelessness by 2021 (see recent BBC report).

Citizens:mk co-chair Kurshida Mirza said:  “We are delighted to be working with MK Homeless Partnership and look forward to supporting Gamiel and his team to help end homelessness in MK.  They deserve this award.”

Campaign leader Lawrence Morgan  said: “We are keen to support the MKHP in communicating its strategy through our campaign goals and network.  After talking with Gamiel, we recognise how the language in some of our goals needs adapting to reflect fully this supportive role.”

‘Sleep Easy’ mass sleep out 16th March

This year’s annual ‘Sleep Easy’ sleep out will take place in the Fred Roche Gardens behind the Church of Christ the Cornerstone, Central Milton Keynes.

YMCA Milton Keynes is raising funds for 2 reasons:

  1. To furnish the bedrooms in our new building, which is due to be complete  by June 2019 .
  2. To raise  funds to allow us to continue with our learning and support programme, because, as you will  be aware, funding from local government has drastically been cut, it is therefore vitally important that we fundraise to continue with our work with the help of organisations such as yourself , supporters of the YMCA and the local community.

For further information, click Sleep Easy booklet 2018.

To register to join the Sleep Easy sleep out, click here.  There is a small fee which will cover the cost of  hot drinks, soup & rolls, and a breakfast bap the next morning.

Please register and help us to reach our Sleep Easy Fundraising target of £10,000.

For those who are unable to sleep out, but are intending to come to the Assembly on the evening, please advise Paul Griffiths.