Category Archives: Events

600 tune in to inaugural Thames Valley Assembly

Thames Valley Citizens is the newest chapter of Citizens UK, growing out of the pioneering work of Citizens:mk in Milton Keynes over the last ten years, bolstered by Sponsoring Committees for new alliances in Oxford and Reading (first meetings later this month), and member organisations across the counties of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire. 

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the inaugural Thames Valley Citizens Assembly had been planned for late April, to coincide with the Police and Crime Commissioner election. What happened instead was a more reflective gathering which recognised and listened to those working on the frontline against Covid (council leaders, the CEO of a hospital, the Police Commissioner, volunteer co-ordinators, education providers, PPE-makers etc), held mini house-meetings in breakouts to envision a more just Thames Valley post-Covid, sought a seat at the table with with power-holders, and demanded action on 5 current issues: improving death registration services, Living Wage for Careworkers, tackling climate change, action on misogyny and improving death registration services (4 of these issues had been voted on at a Delegates’ Assembly that had been held pre-Lockdown on Zoom).

You can watch the Assembly in full on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dioceseofoxford/videos/573507640256567/

Turnout was 95 on Zoom (almost double the target) plus 600 views on Facebook live, with a balance of participants across MK, Oxford and Reading – and a smattering from the wider Thames Valley area. 

The Police and Crime Commissioner committed to quarterly meetings with Thames Valley Citizens, with a firm commitment on action to improve relationships between young people and the police, and an open door to explore Living Wage accreditation, action to reduce carbon emissions, and recording misogyny as a hate crime, in his remaining year of office. 

The leaders of Milton Keynes Council and Reading Council also attended, and became the first in the country to back our Living Wage for Careworkers Campaign – they are already accredited Living Wage employers and will publicly join our call on the UK Government to invest £1.4billion so that social care employees are paid the Real Living Wage. 

The Assembly welcomed the Diocese of Oxford, which is funding the development of Thames Valley Citizens with a £150,000 commitment over 5 years. All 4 bishops participated, with the Bishop of Oxford leading the opening reflection.  Here’s how the Diocese wrote it up.

Thames Valley Citizens will now grow through the creation of Temporary Sponsoring Committees in Oxford and reading. If you would like to know more, contact:

Police & Crime Commissioner receives ‘Thank You Police’ cake on the morning of the Assembly, as part of Thames Valley Citizens’ thanks for the efforts of public service leaders during the Covid-19 crisis

Weaving Trust for Mental Health and Wellbeing

Eight members of St. Frideswide’s Church hosted eight visitors from five Citizens:mk member institutions in the first ever online Weaving Trust event, using Zoom as a platform. This is the first of a series of events organised by Citizens:mk in a new strategic partnership with MK Community Foundation to support its Vital Signs research.

Weaving Trust is a carousel of short one-to-one conversations between people who wouldn’t otherwise meet. The focus question for this event was: “Where do we see strength in our community and how can it be used to support mental health and wellbeing?”

Following the conversations, participants shared various reactions and suggestions (below).

Rev Catherine Butt, Vicar of St. Frideswide’s Church, said: “It went to prove that listening and learning can happen virtually in this way, despite the obvious compromises. At St Frideswide’s we are looking forward to working with our partner institutions as we emerge from these strange days, with hope for a fairer and more just society.”

Comments from participants at the end of the session were as follows:

  • What has struck me is that mental health issues can affect anyone at anytime to varying degrees – no one is immune
  • A minor stress for one person is unbearable for another
  • My own context would be very stressful for many people, whereas it’s not for me
  • We need to be aware of/sensitive to the mental stress of children
  • Community can be about social support too, for example, spot those who are lonely and bring them in.  How we do that in lockdown may be more of a challenge for communities.
  • Community can help by making people feel as if they belong.  People can feel very lonely and isolated in a whole slew of different contexts, but they have to feel they matter to someone, and feel valued, otherwise as humans we feel cut off even if we are in a crowd.
  • Aspects that came up in some of my chats:  the benefit of green spaces and nature, the sharing of cross generational experience for the support of young and old; smaller communities with hubs at the centre for meeting and activities.
  • This session has been great and I think communities need to be very aware of children and young people and their mental health going forward
  • Acknowledging we cannot make it right but are there in support of others, we all have skills and experience and can use these to encourage and share in getting alongside others
  • It’s been great to talk to five different people coming at the topic from such different perspectives.  Strengths in our community/ies that came up in our chats included green spaces in Mk, such as canals, lakes, parks; churches and faith groups a resource for community groups offering somewhere to meet, and volunteers to help community groups to build relationships, and talking to one another.  During lockdown, MH is being talked about more because of the detrimental effect staying indoors not seeing loved ones, and the worry about work, money, ill health, etc.  But it is good it is being talked about because we need to bring it out in the open, and break stigma.  People are reaching out to one another during lockdown at a new level, which is building relationships and this is good for our wellbeing, and so is having a bit more time for quality times with family, parents and children, spouses, etc, and to do less and be more.
  • Stability is important in uncertain times – how do we provide/help that when projects/funding comes and goes?
  • It would be good if the new found community spirit could be continued past the lockdown phase.  Checking in with a neighbour or group Whatsapps for example.
  • I wish we could come with other terms, something that carries less of the stigma and less of the medical baggage…wellbeing is a good start.
  • I was thinking about how we connect to the people who have any degree of mental health but are either coping or not coping behind closed doors.  We don’t know about them and they may no know that there are agencies to help them or feel unable to ask for help.  The only way seems to be building relationships within small communities.
  • We need to understand that whilst people’s physical needs can be met, anxiety and mental wellbeing is as important and being able to signpost people to help as well as talking is important.  There are a number of different community initiatives that can help.  Arts organisations, MIND, amongst others are all still working.
  • One key phrase that stood out was mutual aid.
  • How can community support those who are in acute need?  There is plenty of advice coming out from agencies and local services e.g. Arthur Ellis on MKFM on Sunday.
  • It’s a concern that people living with MH issues that belong to groups are not able to attend during lockdown.
  • There has certainly been a shift in the community around me towards talking when there is an opportunity – we can encourage this by responding even just by smiling/body language.

In post-session evaluation, participants scored the event 8 out of 10.

Delegates Assembly agrees agenda for Police & Crime Commissioner

This year’s Delegates Assembly, including delegations from Oxford and Reading for the first time, voted on campaign goals for the Police & Crime Commissioners Assembly on 29th April (see PCC Campaign_2019-20 plan).

Hosted by St. Frideswide’s Church in Water Eaton, south Milton Keynes, the assembly was co-chaired by Rob Paton of MK Quakers and Hala Afify of Truby’s Garden Tea Room, and attended by 43 people from 11 Citizens:mk member institutions.

It was agreed to support the following four campaign goals and focus resources on the two which got the most votes (in brackets):

  1. Action on Climate Change, led by Kirsty Forshaw of MK Green Alliance: Commit to declaring a climate emergency across the Thames Valley Police Force, meeting quarterly with us to prepare and present your action plan at next year’s Citizens Accountability Assembly for going carbon neutral by 2030 (48).
  2. Police & Schools Together, led by Tony Berwick of Jubilee Wood Primary School: A Thames Valley Police contact and backup team attached to every school so that Headteachers can confidently expect communication throughout the school year and a shared understanding of local issues (40).
  3. Real Living Wage, led by Rukhsana Malik of MK Muslim Association: Apply Real Living Wage to every employee and contractor in Thames Valley Police (21).
  4. Misogyny As Hate Crime, led by Jane Whild of The Open University: Classify misogyny as a recordable hate crime within a year and publish quarterly sex disaggregated data for all hate crimes within 6 months (21).

In group evaluation immediately after the assembly, delegates in MK scored the event 8 out of 10; in Oxford, 7.5 out of 10.

Comments received:

  • The venue was very good (much better than the Guildhall at Christ the Cornerstone, where MK’s Delegates Assemblies have been held previously).
  • The campaign leaders had prepared well, with clear presentations and clear goals.
  • Business was successfully completed to the satisfaction of most delegates.
  • Turnout below usual ‘5 delegates per institution’ target and several MK institutions only had one delegate.
  • Effective participation of Reading and Oxford.
  • Technology not perfect. Difficult to read what was on the screen at times (text too small). Some hiccoughs in the communication with Oxford and Reading. Hard for speakers not being able to control their powerpoints.
  • The voting was a bit confused. Would have been better if we’d known how the votes would be used before deciding on our scores.
  • A delegate from one of the Catholic Churches had said she was uneasy about speaking on behalf of her organisation because she was there on her own and said she would vote mainly for the Green campaign, because the Pope had spoken out strongly on environmental issues. Someone then shouted out ‘and what has the Pope to say about misogyny”, to which there was some laughter – not in the spirit of how Citizens works.
  • Partisan cheering and clapping by campaign teams also not in the spirt of how Citizens works.

Turnout pledged for the PCC Assembly was 185 as below:

Oxford 20
Reading 20
Milton Keynes 145
Church of Christ the Cornerstone 15
Jubilee Wood Primary School 12
MK Deanery 40
MK Green Alliance 15
MK Muslim Association 5
MK Quaker Meeting 15
Open University 8
St. Augustine’s RC Church 5
St. Frideswide’s Church 15
St. Paul’s Catholic School 10
Truby’s Garden Tea Room 5

Dialogue Wins As Parliamentary Candidates Pledge Action

On 2nd December, 181 people from 19 diverse community organisations gathered at Church of Christ the Cornerstone to hear MK’s parliamentary candidates introduce themselves and respond to the campaign interests of Citizens:mk alliance.

The event aimed to promote respectful dialogue for more informed voting at the General Election on 12th December. All candidates were invited and co-chairs Kurshida Mirza of Truby’s Garden Tea Room and Neil Hutchinson of MK Academy (pictured above) expressed disappointment that the Conservative Party candidates for MK North and South, held by Conservative MPs since 2010, were unable to attend this Citizens:mk assembly because they were busy elsewhere.

A rap video was played, Planet Water by pupils from Orchard Academy primary school (see lyrics), and some attendees put on Greta Thunberg masks (pictured above) to show solidarity with the children and young people in MK and around the world who are campaigning for action on climate change.

After short welcome speeches from Rev George Mwaura and MK Mayor Sam Crooks (pictured below), the presentations from Citizens:mk’s campaign leaders (pictured below) got underway:

After everyone was asked to have a short one-to-one conversation with someone they didn’t know (pictured below) the six attending parliamentary candidates made their five-minute presentations, each strictly timed by Boyzie Morse of MK Quaker Meeting.

The candidates were asked to respond to the following questions:

  1. why are you standing for election? (one minute)
  2. response to one question selected by Citizens:mk Leadership Group from questions emailed in advance by registered attendees:  If elected, how would you make sure your priority is to Milton Keynes before your party, and how would you ensure the views of local residents aren’t ignored?  (one minute)
  3. response to Citizens:mk Asks below (two minutes).

The asks – If elected, will you…

  1. Attend and contribute to our Annual Assembly
  2. Convene meetings we arrange with local business and other leaders, in support of a local Campaign (one per year)
  3. Call for and support in Parliament measures conducive to our local  campaigns
  4. Meet with our Leadership Team twice a year for one hour, either in MK or Westminster.

These were the candidates and their responses:

  • Alan Francis, The Green Party (MK South) – see video
  • Stephen Fulton, Independent (MK South) – see video
  • Hannah O’Neill, Labour Party (MK South) – see video
  • Aisha Mir, Liberal Democrats (MK North) – see video
  • Charlynne Pullen, Labour Party (MK North) – see video
  • Catherine Rose, The Green Party (MK North) – see video

In the absence of the Conservative candidates, the Leader of the Conservative group on MK Council was given the opportunity to read statements from them (pictured below). He pledged to organise a meeting between any Conservative MP(s) elected and members of Citizens:mk Leadership Group within three months of the election.

Saleyha Ahsan, Liberal Democrat candidate for MK South, sent her apologies for absence due to ill health.

In a group Evaluation immediately after, the event was scored 8 out of 10, with points being dropped for lower than target turnout and insufficient audibility of all speakers. As Headteacher Neil Hutchinson later pointed out, “this would be a very high grade in GCSE or A level!”

Photos by Liam Hyatt. Filming by Chris Valentine.

Police & Crime Commissioner answers questions

On 26th November, Dr. Fidele Mutwarisibo, leader of Citizens:mk’s First Against Hate campaign, and Julie Upton, High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire, welcomed Citizens:mk and other community leaders to a light lunch with Anthony Stansfeld, Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Thames Valley, at Church of Christ the Cornerstone.

The purpose of the lunch was to find out more about the role and responsibilities of the PCC, and what it’s really like to do the job, from someone who’s done it for nearly 8 years and will be succeeded by a newly elected PCC in May.   Citizens:mk leaders want to be better informed, understand the issues and share their own views to inform and influence the PCC agenda.

This was part of Citizens:mk’s research towards negotiation with candidates for the post at a special assembly for Thames Valley Citizens in Milton Keynes on 29th April (click here for information and to book a place).

It follows the table-top workshop being hosted by MK Police Commander Tim Metcalfe on 17th October (see news story).

“it was a very valuable thing to create space for dialogue helping the Citizens:mk Alliance to work with a broad range of service providers,” said Citizens:mk Co-Chair Kurshida Mirza.

To find out more about how you can contribute to the agenda for PCC candidates at the 29th April Assembly, see this campaign briefing document and/or contact Community Organiser Tom Bulman, tel 07962 838685.

12 Leaders Complete One-Day Training

12 people from 7 member and 4 non-member institutions attended Citizens:mk’s first One-Day Training at MK Quaker Meeting House. Participants included guests from Hong Kong Citizens.

Co-led by Jonathan Cox, Deputy-Director of Citizens UK, the training included a simulation of planning for action on climate change in MK city centre as well as the concepts and tools of community organising for change in local communities.

Leaders in negotiation role play

In post-training comments, trainees said:

  • “The training helped me learn about power analysis and 1-2-1s”
  • “It was very informative. Managed to fit a lot into a short period of time, without it feeling rushed.”
  • “Good opportunity to meet other Citizens:mk members and disucss possibilities.”
  • “The time was just right.”

Trainees will now unertake action for social change in their communities, with the support of mentoring from members of Citizens:mk’s Leadership Group. School leaders will participate in a shared research action to reduce carbon footprint in MK’s city centre.

AGM sets course of action for year ahead

22 people from 8 member and 4 non-member institutions attended the Annual General Meeting on 17th September. The meeting included presentations from:

  • Rob Paton, Citizens:mk Ambassador (fomer Chair) – reflections on progress of Citizens:mk
  • Ian Revell, CEO MK Community Foundation – initial findings of Vital Signs 2019 research
  • Jess Maddocks, Development Organiser for Reading Citizens – growth of new Thames Valley Citizens chapter.

Other guests included representatives of MK Welfare Association and the University of Buckingham.

11 leaders were nominated and agreed to serve on the Leadership Group in 2019-20, as follows:

  • Kurshida Mirza, Truby’s Garden Tea Room
  • Tim Norwood, MK Deanery
  • Sheila Bacon, MK Quaker Meeting
  • Linda McComie, Truby’s Garden Tea Room
  • Sharon Ghoulia, MK Green Alliance
  • Jane Whild, The Open University
  • Rukhsana Malik, MK Muslim Association
  • Hala Afify, Truby’s Garden Tea Room
  • Kirsten Jeffery, MK Green Alliance
  • David Chapman, Church of Christ the Cornerstone
  • Michael Sheppard, MK Green Alliance.

Kurshida Mirza and Tim Norwood resigned as Co-Chairs. Kurshida agreed to stand in as Co-Chair until two other members of the Group were nominated and trained to take over.

Jane Whild volunteered to represent the MK Group on Citizens UK’s national Leadership Group.

Following a presentation from Hala Afify, leader of the Fair Work campaign, the Fair Work Listening Campaign was launched with attendees agreeing to promote the new online survey within their institutions, https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/QRRCS79.

Evaluation of the AGM, as an internal action, concluded a score of 8 out of 10.

David Chapman, who attended the AGM representing Church of Christ the Cornerstone, said: “It was frustrating that I was only able to stay for a short while because the mix of people present, from diverse backgrounds and a wide range of different organisations, is so inspiring. I really wanted to hear what everyone had to say. At a time of national stress and conflict, all Citizens:MK events are local oases of hope.”

Graduation of Community leadership trainees 2018-19

Eight community leaders graduated formally from Citizens:mk’s Two-Day Training courses, which ran in September 2018 and March 2019.

At a Learning Exchange event hosted by MK Academy, eight leaders from five institutions gave short presentations on what they had learned on the course and how they had applied it in their community leadership.

“Presenting back to the group was a memorable moment of my life,” said Sagarika Chakravarti of Jubilee Wood Primary School. “The training has made a big difference to my passion for making impact in my community.”

“I found this event very encouraging,” said Gill Bradley of St. Frideswide’s Church.  “It was good to hear from others how they had applied what they had learnt from the 2-day training, and what had been achieved.   Even those who didn’t think they had achieved much, were able to articulate how what they had learnt had inspired them to do something specific.  I was also encouraged by the affirmation I received from one of the guests regarding my presentation.”

“Hearing others’ stories helped me learn new strategies,” said Tom Bartlett of Aspire Oxford. “Hearing about the range of complex community-organising scenarios set foundations for useful steps I can take in making positive changes within Milton Keynes.’

Graduation certificates were awarded by Citizens:mk Co-Chair, Kurshida Mirza (photos below, with apologies to Craig Broadbent for neglecting to snap him).

Guests at the event included representatives from MK Community Foundation, who funded the training, MK Welfare Association and the University of Buckingham.

Delegates assembly agrees campaigns for 2019-20

109 delegates from 15 member institutions attended our annual Delegates Assembly at Church of Christ the Cornerstone on Tuesday 5th February 2019.

After an inspiring welcome address from Rev Ernesto Lozada-Uzuriaga, and a roll call of member institutions present, co-chairs Kurshida Mirza of Trubys Garden Tea Room and Greg Maw of St. Paul’s Catholic School introduced new member MK Council of Faiths with a short speech from Rev. John Robertson.

Citizens UK co-chair Tim Norwood, MK Area Dean, explained new plans to create a Thames Valley Citizens chapter supported by Citizens:mk. Yvonne Smith of Cornerstone said she welcomed the idea of having new neighbour alliances in Oxford and Reading.

RAG-rated updates on 2018-19 campaign goals were presented including a video message from Dr. Fidele Mutwarisibo, leader of the Fight Against Hate campaign.

Sixth form students Zainab Athumani from The Radcliffe School and Fraser Sones and Dylan from Stantonbury International School presented their recent experiences of Citizens:mk’s new ‘Anger to Action’ course, funded by MK Community Foundation. Headteacher Kate Matthews led Southwood Primary School students in presenting their experiences of meeting with the Leader of the Council to raise the issue of the broken steps outside the school main entrance.

The choir of Summerfield Primary School then gave a first ever public performance of their new Refugees Welcome song.

After a short break and 121s, three campaign proposals were put, each with SMART goals as follows:

  1. Refugees Welcomeled by MK Deanery, St. Paul’s Catholic School, St. George’s Church:
    • Three new Refugee Welcome Schools – led by St. Paul’s Catholic School
    • First Community Sponsorship
    • A pillar at The Rose for World Refugee Day
  2. Fair Workled by Trubys Garden Tea Room, St. Augustine’s Catholic Church, Congolese Community:
    • Zero hours contracts to include clear clauses on Termination and Appeal processes after 12 months. 
    • HR staff to receive Unconscious Bias training and policies for blind application processes’. 
    • Develop a Charter mark for ‘Fair Work’ employers, including both of the above, and test it with 3 MK-based employers within 12 months.
    • To get a formal partnership with a legal firm, e.g. Dentons, to help draft the charter.
  3. Police & Primaries Together led by Jubilee Wood Primary School, Southwood Primary School and St. Paul’s Catholic School:
    • To increase children’s positive perception of The Police in the community, based on regular feedback and surveys organised through School Councils, by December 2019. 
    • To log regular, informal lunchtime visits by TVP to our schools to mix and meet with children, at least once every 6 weeks.

Delegates gave full consent to these campaigns being given special attention at our Accountability Assembly with power-holders on Thursday 25th April 2019.

In post-event Evaluation, the Assembly was scored 8 out of 10, with two points being dropped due to non-attendance of some members and poor audibility of some speeches.

Council Leader presents Young Citizens Awards 12.7.18

On 12th July, MK Council Leader Peter Marland and other VIPs met in the Council Chamber, Civic Offices, to celebrate with pupils of Citizens:mk member schools their achievements in active citizenship over the past school year (pictured above).

Chaired by Kurshida Mirza, of Trubys Garden Tea Room and co-chair of Citizens:mk Leadership Group, the event began with a photo slideshow summary of recent successful actions led by pupils.

Then two student leaders from MK Academy (pictured below) stepped up to describe the recent successes of the Redways Relaunch campaign.

Josephine Osei, who initiated the campaign to achieve the ’50 Redway improvements’ pledge from Cllr Marland 18 months ago, was joined by John Wambeek, who has been holding Cllr Marland and his Highways team to account for implementing the pledge.  John announced the news that MK Council has scheduled 262 Redway improvements (more than five times the original pledge), of which 92% have already been implemented.

Pupils from Summerfield School (pictured below) then described their experiences in the Day of Action for the Fight Against Hate campaign on 17th October.

Maja Mirecka, Year 6 student from Jubilee Wood School (pictured below with chair Kurshida), told of the impact of meeting and interviewing rough sleepers as part of the House the Homeless campaign.

“I think that it is a significant experience for children that are my age or maybe even younger to talk to homeless people,” she said.  “We all deserve a home don’t we?”

Jean-Louis Button (pictured below), leader of the Life Skills for Young People campaign, commended the achievements of St. Paul’s Catholic School students in securing pledges from Santander and The Open University to deliver Finance Skills training sessions at the school next term.It was then the turn of VIP guests to speak.  First, Chief Inspector John Batty, Deputy Area Commander of Thames Valley Police (pictured below) said:

“If the police have good relationships with young people, then there is likely to be less crime and society will be a safer place. Young people are the ones who will shape our future society and if the police are to adapt effectively to a changing society then we need to know what is important to young people. I also hope some of you will want to become the Police officers of the future.”

Short speeches were made by Lorna Rogers, Senior Associate of Dentons solicitors and Emilia Hardern, Diversity and Inclusion Manager of Network Rail.  Both companies have partnered schools in the Redways Relaunch campaign.

Lorna Rogers (pictured at right above with colleague Sarah Treharne receiving gift from the Jubilee Wood pupils), said:  “We really enjoyed attending and seeing how proud the children were to be part of such a positive movement.  We are very proud to be part of the Redways Relaunch programme and look forward to continuing the work we started with Jubilee Wood in the upcoming year. ”

Emilia Hardern (pictured above) said:  “The passion, enthusiasm and drive of these young people amazes me! They are a great reminder that no matter what age you are you can make a difference. I am increasingly proud to live and work in Milton Keynes. Network Rail will continue to work alongside Citizens:mk on the Fight Against Hate campaign with the aim of making Milton Keynes as inclusive as it is diverse.”

Cllr Marland then awarded all the pupils with their Young Citizens 2017-18 certificates, and special awards were made to John Wambeek (pictured in hat above), Young Citizen of the Year, for his special contribution to the Redways Relaunch campaign; also Pam Weston (pictured below), retiring head teacher of Summerfield Primary School, for her extraordinary commitment to involving her pupils in citizens actions.

Tony Berwick (pictured below), head teacher of Jubilee Wood Primary School and member of Citizens:mk Leadership Group, then reflected on the exciting opportunities available for today’s young citizens as they grow up in MK.

Finally pupils from MK Academy and Summerfield School secured pledges from Cllr Marland to visit their schools next term, and the event was closed with a rousing rendition of ‘We Built This City Milton Keynes’ by the famous choir of Summerfield Primary School (pictured below).

Hala Afify Selim, a Citizens:mk leader who was attending the event shortly after returning from 6-Day Training with Citizens UK, said:  “Everyone in the room was buzzing with excitement and the cameras kept flashing trying to capture the vigour, energy and enthusiasm of the singers.  It was a great event where power holders, pupils, citizens and organisers shared a dream of a better future for a place where we all cherish and adore: Milton Keynes.”

Photos below show (from left to right):  Pupils from Summerfield School and Jubilee Wood School with their award certificates, and Cllr Marland receiving a gift from the pupils of Summerfield School.

Power holders pledge to support Citizens:mk campaign goals

The leaders of MK’s main political parties have pledged to support all the goals of all four current Citizens:mk campaigns.  Their pledges were made at Citizens:mk’s seventh annual Accountability Assembly, which took place at Cornerstone Church in Central Milton Keynes on 24th April.

225 people attended, including representatives from 17 member institutions and 24 other MK institutions.

After a members’ roll call, and the power-holders being led in by school children, the audience enjoyed a presentation of campaign successes over the past year.   

Cllr Peter Marland, Leader of MK Council (pictured above), was thanked for his role in delivering 130 Redway improvements – more than double the target of the Redways Relaunch campaign for MK’s 50th birthday year.

Then goals for the year ahead were presented by each campaign team (Fight Against Hate, Life Skills & Young People, Mental Health and House the Homeless) and pledges of support  were received.

Powerful testimonies were given from the victims of hate crime.  Jennifer Parsons of MK Muslim Association (pictured above), related how she had been verbally abused for wearing a hijab.

Supt Yvette Hitch, Area Commander for Thames Valley Police Milton Keynes (pictured below), stated her aim to deliver a police service for the whole community including marginalised communities.

In a one-to-one conversation during the break with Philip Shamamba, leader of MK Congolese Community, she agreed to attend an special meeting with that group.

Arriva Buses and Network Rail pledged to support the Fight Against Hate campaign with a poster display action during national Hate Crime Awareness Week in October.

The Mental Health campaign team won a pledge from the Deputy-director of MK Mental Health Service for further partnership in the campaign.

The students of St. Paul’s Catholic School (pictured above) won a pledge from their head teacher to include more finance skills education in the school curriculum.

Following a request from the House the Homeless campaign team, many members of the audience agreed an action to contribute to MK Council’s current consultation on affordable housing.

Each of the three political party leaders responded ‘Yes’ to each of Citizens:mk’s campaign asks and spoke briefly about their own party manifestos for the upcoming Council elections.  Cllr Alex Walker (Conservative), attending his first Accountability Assembly (pictured below), said he was impressed by the diversity of the Citizens:mk alliance and looked forward to working with the alliance.

See pledges from all party leaders in short video:

The event ended with a rousing rendition of ‘We Built This City’ led by the choir of Summerfield Primary School (pictured below). 

See short video of choir singing below:

Mayor David Hopkins (pictured below) gave a final vote of thanks to all campaign team members and power-holders before the seventh annual Accountability Assembly was closed.

In a short evaluation by 25 participants immediately afterwards, the Assembly was scored 8/10.

Photos by Liam Hyatt.

Thanks to our grant funders in 2017-18:tudor-trust       and Master CMYK large

 

Accountability Assembly 24th April 2018

Members of the local community are coming together in their hundreds at a Citizens:mk election assembly event to voice their concerns to would-be decision makers in order to improve the lives of poor and disadvantaged households including children and their families across the borough.

You are invited to attend our seventh annual

ACCOUNTABILITY ASSEMBLY 

Strengthening Our City

  • Citizens:mk hosts its Accountability Assembly on 24th April 2018 at Church of Christ the Cornerstone to address election candidates and ask that they pledge actions a range of social issues
  • Lawrence Morgan of Transition MK will lead a call for action to create a Community Land Trust in MK and a Citizens Guide advising pedestrians how to react to rough-sleepers, working closely with MK Homelessness Partnership
  • Fidele Mutwarisibo of The Open University will call for Restorative justice for the victims of hate crime and more action on removal of hate graffiti.
  • Others will call for action on Life Skills for Young People and Mental Health.
  • The leaders of MK’s main political parties will respond, also the Police Area Commander and other power-holders.

Powerful stories will be heard on stage from individuals who are directly affected by a shortage of housing in the city, difficult access to mental health services, lack of finance education in schools and hate crime on the streets of MK.  A school choir will sing about the city they want to grow up in.

 Book places here

Rev Tim Norwood, Area Dean and Co-Chair of Citizens:mk said: “We have planned this assembly to highlight the issues that matter most to people living in the borough ahead of the local elections with urgent asks on homelessness and hate crime.

“One of the benefits of being a non-political broad-based network of community leaders at Citizens:mk means we research broadly and listen carefully to what all corners of our neighbourhoods tell us they need and expect from their elected representatives.  We hope our asks will be accepted by candidates in the spirit we are sharing and put into action with promises.”

Arif Master of Zainabiya Islamic Centre, said: “Recently I experienced a series of hate incidents directed at me and my staff at my practice.  It was an unpleasant experience.  For the first time in my life, I didn’t feel like going to work in the morning.  Thanks to the leaders of the Citizens:mk Fight Against Hate campaign, the Police and local politicians began to respond and the young people were caught and made to apologise.”

 Book places here or call 07962 838685 if you have any questions.

Delegates launch campaigns on homelessness and life skills

On Monday 5th February, 85 people from 15 member institutions attended Citizens:mk’s 2018 Delegates Assembly.

Several moving testimonies were presented and four proposals were made for new campaign goals, all of which were formally approved by a majority of institutions present:

Pledges were also received for attendance at two upcoming assemblies to address power holders:

Institution Pledged Turnout at SleepOut Assembly  (House the Homeless campaign) 16.3.18 Pledged Turnout at annual Accountability Assembly  24.4.18
Church of Christ the Cornerstone 15 15
Future Wolverton
Jubilee Wood Primary School 4 15
Middle East Cultural Group 4
MK Academy 2 5
MK Muslim Association 5 15
MK Quaker Meeting 5 15
Open University 10 7
Q:alliance 7 7
St. Augustine’s RC Church
St. Frideswide’s Church 5 5
St. Monica’s Catholic Primary School 5
St. Paul’s Catholic School 10 10
Stantonbury Ecumenical Partnership
Summerfield Primary School 2 20
Transition MK 3 10
Truby’s Garden Tea Room 5 10
YMCA Milton Keynes. 25 5
98 148

In Evaluation immediately after the event, participants agreed a score of 7/10 for the assembly.

Leaders Forum 2017 sets off new campaign research teams

This year’s Leaders Forum was hosted by Jubilee Wood Primary School and attended by 55 leaders from 15 member institutions.

17 issues were raised and four campaign research teams established:

  • Homelessness & Housing (led by Suzanna Raymond of Q:alliance, Paul Griffiths and Brett Farrier-Smith of MK YMCA)
  • Mental Health & Isolation (led by Meghan Taylor and pupils of St. Paul’s Catholic School, Caro Marshall of St. Augustine’s Catholic Church and Linda McComie of Truby’s Garden Tea Room)
  • Life Skills for young people (led by Rebecca Selves of Jubilee Wood Primary School and Polly of St. Paul’s Catholic School)
  • Young Voices (led by Alan Bainbridge of MK Quaker Meeting and Hilarie Bowman of Transition MK).

Each team has members from three member institutions, a leader and co-leader, at least one of whom will attend the Twilight Training session on research methods on Monday 20th November, 5.30-7.30pm at Acorn House.

Their task over the winter months is to craft SMART campaign goals to be presented for the consent of Delegates Assembly on 5th February 2018.

Other issues raised at Leaders Forum were:

  • Bullying
  • Buses
  • Debt
  • FishermeadHate crime
  • Male role models
  • Muslim female swimming facilities
  • Parking
  • Redways
  • Speeding
  • Plastic
  • Pollution.

In post-event evaluation, this year’s Leaders Forum scored 9/10.