Category Archives: Events

Mayor launches Year of Cycling with Flower Ride through CMK

Following her ‘Year of Cycling in MK’ launch to Full Council earlier on Wednesday evening,

new MK Mayor Marie Bradburn led a community fun ride through Central Milton Keynes on Thursday 16th May.

Adorned in fresh flowers supplied by MK social enterprise Branch Out,

she was joined by 45 cyclists from all across the city.

After free Dr Bike repairs from Cycle Saviours from 4pm, people gathered with their bikes and were welcomed by Ian Revell of MK Community Foundation and Simon Rudiger of Cycle Saviours.

Ann Shrimpton of Breeze Women’s Cycle Group then introduced Mayor Marie Bradburn.

The Mayor outlined her vision of a ‘Year of Cycling’:

  • focus on children’s Bikeability training (80% target)
  • getting more women cycling (50% target)
  • helping MK City Council achieve Active Travel England rating 2.

Then she presented a special School Cycling Champion award to teacher Jake Saville of Two Mile Ash School.

Jane Whild of Voices of Women in MK presented the results of two important recent surveys: MK Adults Cycling Survey and MK Schools Travel Survey.

In response, Cllr Jenny Wilson-Marklew, Cabinet Member for Public Realm, spoke about what’s needed for MK City Council to achieve Active Travel England rating 2 & what the Council is doing to get there.

Then cycle parking campaigner Hazel Dean explained what’s needed to get bicycle parking at Sainsbury’s in CMK (details below).

After a ride briefing, the cyclists then set off up Midsummer Boulevard, with the Mayor accompanied by riders from Breeze Women’s Cycling Group, from Station Square to Campbell Park Light Pyramid.

Then a smaller group of cyclists stopped at Sainsbury’s to talk to the store manager about next steps in the campaign for better parking:

  • What’s currently wrong with the Sainsbury’s bike parking – underground and dangerous to get to with no infrastructure to secure bikes
  • What we want to see made available for bike parking at Sainsbury’s – better placed and secure racking outside the store with easy access
  • Why they have turned down helping us – say they have no money for such things even after another year of record profits
  • What we can do to change their minds – let’s go shopping and show them that cyclist are real people who buy stuff.

That’s another story.

Below: MK 2050 painting by local artist Tim Layden, below, will be hung in the Mayor’s parlour.

Thanks to MK’s outgoing Mayor and Mayoress, Cllr Mick and Mandy Legg, for their support of cycling in their mayoral year. At three Mayor’s Cycling Awards events they have presented 23 awards (7 businesses, 16 schools) for achievements in the Business Cycling Challenge and Schools Cycling Challenge.

Caroline Haslett, Bushfield and Oxley Park through to Bikeability Olympics final

40 Year 5-6 pupils from six schools participated in Heat 1 of this year’s Bikeability Olympics. Hosted by Bushfield School in Wolverton, and attended by Deputy Mayor Marie Bradburn, who presented the certificates, the Heat ended in a close contest for three team entries in the final at thecentre:mk on 5th July. With just 19 points separating the top five teams, the winning three were: Caroline Haslett (71 points), Bushfield (68 points) and Oxley Park (55 points) – see full results.

Heat 2 will be hosted by Two Mile Ash School on Tuesday 12th June.

Cycle parking action on CMK Sainsburys

On an evening of high wind and rain, a group of 10 hardy cyclists met in Station Square.

After an introduction from Ian Revell, CEO of MK Community Foundation, a message of cycling support from MK Mayoress Mandy Legg, and prizes for best dressed cyclist (chocolate eggs donated by John Lewis), a large cycling rabbit led the ride up Midsummer Boulevard and across The Hub to Sainsbury’s.

For several months, campaigners have been appealing to Sainsbury’s to provide a few cycle parking spaces to encourage shoppers to cycle, at a cost approximately equal to one minute of Sainsburys’ annual profit. Currently there are none, only an allocated ‘Bicycle Parking’ area in the car park with no fixings, so cycles have to be parked against a nearby road safety railing.

In a recent email response, Sainsburys has said no ‘because of the cost’.

The aim of this action was to politely ask for a reconsideration and to ask where we’re supposed to park our bikes…

The cyclists were eventually met by a duty manager, who received the latest request, along with two draft press releases – ‘Sainsburys says No to cycle parking’ and ‘Sainsburys says Yes to cycle parking’), and agreed to communicate the further appeal to senior managers.

See that funny bunny hop while warming up for the action…

…and later trying to shop.

In a post-action evaluation, the cycling campaigners said they felt energised by the action, satisfied they had progressed the relationship with Sainsburys, and willing to return soon, if necessary, to continue the campaign for a deal.

Cycling CitizensMK launches Year 7 School Travel report

Following a survey of 1,173 Year 7 students across 12 MK secondary schools, the following report has been launched.

Cllr Zoe Nolan, Cabinet Member for Children & Families, said:  ‘We know children learn more easily when they get enough physical exercise, so cycling or walking to school is a pro-brainer!  That’s why MK City Council has set a target of 80% of Year 6 pupils receiving Bikeability training.  Now we need more schools and parents to help achieve it.”

Cllr Emily Darlington, Cabinet Member for Adults, Housing and Healthy Communities, said:  “We know 40% of our children in MK’s most deprived neighbours are undertaking less than 30 minutes of exercise a day, which is less than medical experts say they need.  Walking or cycling to school is such an easy way for children and young people to get the exercise they need.  We want to do all we can to help with this.”

Cllr Jane Carr, Cabinet Member for Tackling Social Inequalities, said:  “One in five MK households has no access to a car, so freedom to travel around our city is in issue of social equality.  For people who live in these households, we want to make walking and cycling as safe and attractive as we can.”

Jim Parker, Executive Principal of Lord Grey and Stantonbury secondary schools, will say:  “There are obvious health benefits to having twice daily exercise.  It could be the start of a lifetime exercise habit.  I used to cycle to school every day and still do cycle to work when I can.  There are big social benefits too of being with your friends as you walk, scoot or cycle to school.”

Julie Dawes, Events & Community Engagement Manager at The Parks Trust, a founder member of Cycling CitizensMK alliance, said:  “We welcome this report. We encourage people to walk and cycle in our parks, and we’re pleased the ‘Follow the Rabbit’ ride will end at the Light Pyramid in Campbell Park so everyone can enjoy the view.”

Ringway hosts Mayor’s Cycling Awards Tea

On Thursday 14th March, primary school leaders from across Milton Keynes received Mayor’s Cycling Awards for their achievements in Bikeability training and Modeshift STARS progress. The event was hosted by Ringway Infrastructure Services and attended by 25 guests. Awards were also made to secondary schools which have excelled in the MK Secondary Schools Cycling Challenge.

After a welcome from Ringway’s Daniel Mullins, and an update on the Cycling Citizens alliance’s data monitoring from Michael Pattinson of PWC, Organiser Tom Bulman presented the summary findings of the new report on Year 7 cycling to school.

MK Mayor and Mayoress Mick and Mandy Legg presented the following awards:

  • Top Cycling Secondary School (most cycles on site per 100 students in March 2024) – Glebe Farm School (10.7)
  • Top Cycling Primary School (most progress on Modeshift STARS) – Cold Harbour (‘Very Good’), Two Mile Ash (‘Good’), Barleyhurst (‘Approved’)
  • Top Cycling Primary School (high % Year 5 & 6 pupils on Bikeability training in 2023-24) – Knowles (68.5%), Barleyhurst (56.9%)
  • Bikeability Champion Schools pledging 80% participation by March 2025 – Giffard Park, The Premier Academy, Two Mile Ash.

Cllr Zoe Nolan, Cabinet Member for Children & Families (main picture above), spoke about the importance of MK City Council’s target of 80% children receiving Bikeability training and pledged to promote the recommendations of the report (above). Bikeability instructors Richard Allman and Maria Riding spoke about the progress primary schools are making in Bikeability training and in using the Modeshift STARS platform for recording and monitoring achievements in promoting active travel.

Jane Whild, of Voices of Women in Milton Keynes, talked about the recently launched campaign to increase cycling by women and asked all attendees to complete this survey

and encourage others to do the same. Ann Shrimpton, leader of Breeze rides for women, celebrated last week’s ride to celebrate International Women’s Day, and Ian Revell, CEO of MK Community Foundation, outlined the upcoming City rides planned in March, May, July, September, December) including the Follow The Rabbit ride on Thursday 28th March.

Finally attendees had a chance to see up close an e-assisted quadra-cycle (see below), similar to the one intended for next year’s MK Mayor, as outlined by Tristan Allen of Fully-charged e-bikes.

Other winners unable to attend were:

  • Top Cycling Secondary School (most students in Year 7 travel survey) – Watling Academy (220)
  • Top Cycling Secondary School (highest % students in Year 7 travel survey)Kents Hill Park (91%)
  • Top Cycling Secondary School (most cycling promotion initiatives) – Walton High (7)

Cycling Santas ready to ride again in 2024

At 10.30am on Saturday 14th December 2024, 500 MK residents will rally at Station Square, MK9 1LA, and set off on a short ride through Central Milton Keynes to Campbell Park and back (see photo story of last year’s event). This will be a formal world record attempt.

Register here now to participate, including a free Santa costume and/or free Tier/Santander hire bike on the day, if you need it.

There will be awards for the company and the school with the most registered Cycling Santas, and prizes for the best blinged bikes!

As well as creating fun, the event will bring together leaders from different business, education and community organisations who are members or supporters of a new broad-based alliance to get more people cycling in MK. This will be an opportunity from our civic and political leaders about their visions for cycling in MK.

The route itself is an easy ride, suitable for adults and children (with parents). The Cycling Santas will pedal up Midsummer Boulevard in the left-hand lane, as legally permitted, led and supported by 16 Guide Riders wearing pink hi-viz jackets, whose role includes making all junctions safe as the cyclists pass through. Cyclists will dismount to walk between thecentre:mk and Midsummer Place, the cycle together to MK Rose, and round and round it a few times, where mince pies and fruit will be shared. From there, most will return to Station Square by the same route (some will leave for home). For details, see Route & Risk Assessment.

For further information, contact cyclingmk@citizensuk.org, 07962 838685.

Cycling Santas thrill CMK shoppers

Shoppers stopped to cheer and wave as 135 MK residents, including MK’s Deputy-Mayor and senior councillors, cycled through the city centre in Santa suits.

At 10.30am on Saturday 16th December, the Cycling Santas rallied at Station Square for a short ride to Campbell Park. Following last year’s pilot ride, this was a rehearsal for a formal world record attempt next year, which will encourage 500 people to participate. The event was reported by BBC News (online story) and ITV Anglia News (TV report).

Father Christmas (aka actor Dave Lovesy) led the proceedings with some hilarity.

As well as creating fun, the event brought together leaders from different business, education and community organisations who are members or supporters of a new broad-based alliance to get more people cycling in MK, especially children.

It was an opportunity to hear from civic and political leaders about their visions for cycling in MK and secure important pledges.

  • Dame Ann Limb, High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire, said: “I am totally behind MK Council’s ambition to find ways to get more children cycling to school. Walking and cycling are good for people, places, and the planet which is at the heart of my sustainability focus as High Sheriff.”
  • Cllr Emily Darlington, Cabinet Member for Adults, Housing & Healthy Communities, said: “Research shows active travel leads to longer, healthier lives.  I pledge to do all I can to help MK City Council make walking and cycling easier and more attractive to MK residents.”
  • Cllr Zoe Nolan, Cabinet Member for Children & Families said: “We know cycling to school makes a big difference to children’s health and wellbeing. We want more children and young people to cycle to school. Last year MK Council delivered Bikeability Training to 35% of all 9-11-year-olds and we’re doing all we can to increase it to 60% this year. I pledged to work with our schools to find ways we can work together with the Cycling Citizens alliance to achieve this goal, and get to 80% by 2025.”

Mayor’s Cycling Awards were presented by Deputy-Mayor Cllr Marie Bradburn:

Then it was time for the Santas to cycle! MK’s Panacea Samba band provided the drum beat as they left the Square for Midsummer Boulevard.

With the help of 16 Guide Riders in hi-viz pink, the route was easy ride, attracting participants aged from 5 to 75 and a passenger dog!

The Cycling Santas pedalled up Midsummer Boulevard,

then dismounted at the ‘Cyclists Dismount’ sign to walk between thecentre:mk and Midsummer Place,

then circled MK Rose in Campbell Park

(video courtesy of Venkat Krishnan)

before stopping for mince pies and fruit.

Some pedalled on to the Light Pyramid and back.

before finally heading back to Station Square.

Thanks to MK Community Foundation for providing staging, Cycle Saviours (MK Christian Foundation) for providing transport and bike repairs, The Parks Trust for providing sound, Fully Charged for pedal haulage, and JAR Photography for the professional images above.

Madison Cycles hosts Mayor’s Cycling Awards

On Thursday 23rd November, Madison Cycles’ CEO Dom Langan welcomed 34 people from 19 MK’s businesses and education organisations to celebrate the results of this term’s MK Business Cycling Challenge and MK Schools Cycling Challenge.

“It was a pleasure to host the Cycling Citizens MK awards at Madison and to be joined by the Mayor and Lady Mayoress,” said Dom afterwards. “There were some emotional speeches about how cycling has changed their lives and some inspirational speeches about how teaching children to cycle is changing their lives for the better. Milton Keynes is very lucky to have such a motivated group of people promoting cycling for our community.”

After an update on Cycling CitizensMK’s strategy from Malcolm Davies of Trek Bikes and Michael Pattinson of PWC, Cllr Jennifer Wilson-Marklew, Cabinet Member for Sustainability and Action on Climate Change, gave her reflections on the importance of cycling to MK. She pledged to attend a meeting with the Cycling CitizensMK strategy group in the next three months.

Awards were then presented by Mayor & Mayoress Mick & Mandy Legg:

  • Top Cycling Secondary School (most students in Year 7 travel survey and most cycles on site per 100 students) – Watling Academy (220 Year 7 students, 12.4 bikes per 100) – collected by Assistant Headteacher Cameron Parks (first picture below).
  • Top Cycling Company (biggest increase in cycles on site compared with May23) – The Open University (9%) – collected by the OU’s Jodi Houghton (third picture below)
  • Top Cycling Company (most cycles on site per 100 employees) – Gemini Rail Services (7 bicycles)
  • Best new cycle parking provision – Unity Place – collected by Nathan Kennard (pictured above)
  • Services to Cycling – Ringway Infrastructure Services, for maintaining roads and redways through winter.

Then John Wilkinson of Volkswagen Financial Services spoke about ‘What we have done to increase cycling among our staff’ (pictured below)

and Sarah James from MK City Council spoke about ‘How cycling helps achieve Healthy Workplace Standards’.

Teachers Rich Hill of Bushfield Primary School and Jake Saville of Two Mile Ash School (pictured afterwards below) talked about ‘What we have done to increase cycling among our pupils’,

Simon Rudiger, CEO of MK Christian Foundation/Cycle Saviours, talked about ‘How we help MK access and fix bicycles’ and Mary King gave her personal testimony of e-bike benefit.

Richard Allman & Paul Hammond of MK Council Bikeability talked about routine Bikeability training in primary schools and the upcoming Bikeability Olympics 2024 competition. And Ian Revell, CEO of MK Community Foundation, encouraged people to sign up for Cycling Santas 2023. As well as fun, this will be an opportunity to get pro-cycling pledges from Cllr Zoe Nolan, Cabinet Member for Children & Families: Cllr Emily Darlington, Cabinet Member for Adults, Housing & Healthy Communities; Cllr Marie Bradburn, MK’s Deputy-Mayor; and Dr. Ann Limb, High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire.

Finally Jane Whild of Voices of Women in MK and Ann Shrimpton of Broughton Cycling Group, talked about the importance of including women when planning for cycle promotion in MK.

Then more refreshments were served, courtesy of Madison Cycles.

Photos by Jos Dyer, Madison Cycles.

Cyclists rally to praise Council

Following last year’s inaugural city status celebration ride (photo story & video), 90 cyclists from across the city rallied at The Old Bus Station to thank MK City Council for its leadership and ambition in recent efforts to promote cycling to school and work.

Business and school leaders were welcomed by the High Sheriff of Buckingham and Mayor’s Cycling Awards were presented.

Before the presentations, Cycle Saviours provided Dr. Bike services, Panacea Samba band played music and cyclists met a cycling dinosaur and automota created from bicycle parts by Festive Road.

There was also a break-dancing display from Kev Kallon and free hot food from Namji’s Restaurant.

While the awards are being presented, free hot snacks will be provided by Namji Restaurant.

After a welcome from Ian Revell, CEO of MK Community Foundation (pictured below left), there was a speech from Dame Ann Limb, High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire (pictured below centre), who later joined the cycle ride. “Cycling plays an important role in tackling inequality and reducing inclusion,” she said. “MK’s cycling infrastructure is for everyone, not just cycling fanatics.” She pledged to join a Mayor’s Cycling Breakfast next year and promote cycling at other events across the county.

Victoria Miles MBE, CEO of The Parks Trust (pictured above right), spoke about how MK’s parks provide excellent opportunities for leisure cycling as well as routes to school and work.

Then the Mayor’s Cycling Awards were presented by Deputy-Mayor Marie Bradburn.

  • Top Cycling Companies (based on results here) were introduced by Grant Wildman of Schwalbe Tyres, pledging a prize set of new Green Marathon tyres to the winner:
    • Top Company Cycling Promotion Initiatives (per 100 employees) – 1st place, Gemini Rail Services (2.36) – collected by David Smith
    • Top Company Cycling Promotion Initiatives (per 100 employees)– 2nd place, ICAEW (0.80) – collected by Liz Tribe
    • Top Company Cycling Promotion Initiatives (per 100 employees) – 3rd place, Volkswagen Financial Services (0.43) – collected by Mel Welburn.
  • Bikeability Olympics 2022-23 awards for primary schools, introduced by Nicky Newlands, Bikeability Instructor, who announced that MK City Council has provided Bikeability cycle training to 20,000 local people in the past 10 years, including 2,187 in 2022-23:
    • Gold Award – Bushfield – collected by pupils
    • Silver Award – Giles Brook – collected by pupil Thomas Winepress
    • Bronze Award – Two Mile Ash – collected by teacher Jake Saville.

Then Cllr Zoe Nolan, Cabinet Member for Children & Families (pictured below), talked about why and how MK City Council wants to increase cycling among Year 7 school students.

And Murray Woodburn, the Council’s new Head of Traffic & Transportation (pictured below), talked about why and how MK City Council wants to improve its national Active Travel rating.

Then Eliza Ahad, Year 8 student from Stantonbury Campus (pictured below), spoke about why she likes cycling.

“Cycling gives me freedom to explore my neighbourhood and makes me feel independent,” she said.  “I like cycling around my area, but would like it even better if more other people of my age did it too.”

Then Councillor Nolan accepted a gift for Council leader Pete Marland, to say thank you for including in the Council’s new Delivery Plan a goal to increase MK’s Active Travel rating from 1 to 2 in the next one year and also a goal to support a pilot project to get more Year 7 pupils cycling to school. Both Cllr Nolan and Officer Woodburn pledged to continue their support for these initiatives.

After a safety briefing from Dave Lewis of MK Parks Trust (route map & risk assessment), the cyclists set off up Midsummer Boulevard for a ride to the Light Pyramid in Campbell Park.

Free bikes for the event

People were invited to take up the Nextbike of free Santander bicycle use for three hours. “We want to be part of the MK community,” said nextbike’s Leigh Richards, “really want to be engaged with it.”

BetterPoints

Cyclists using the Better Points app were given an extra 250 Better Points on their account for recording a cycle ride of more than half a mile to Campbell Park between 5 and 6.30pm.

Thanks to Ringway Infrastructure Services for providing cones.

Flyer: download event flyer here.

Photos: by Sagar Kharecha.

Film: click here to see Thomas Gray’s fantastic new film about cycling in MK, Grid Spinners.

Other rides. Cycling enthusiasts meet for a short ride through CMK every Thursday 5.30pm. Just show up at Station Square.

Bushfield School wins Bikeability Olympics final

On Friday 7th July, 36 Year 5-6 pupils from 9 primary schools competed in the final of Bikeability Olympics 2023 at Sports Central in Central Milton Keynes. This followed heats in March, May and June.

Events included an obstacle course (pictured above), relay race, slow race, bike detectives (organised by Cycle Saviours) and road ride.  Each event tested different cycling skills taught to 2,000 pupils in Bikeability training sessions run by MK City Council over the past school year.

In a close contest, Bushfield School took team Gold (pictured above), with Giles Brook running second to take Silver (pictured below left) and Two Mile Ash taking Bronze (pictured below right).

Presenting the awards, Emily Cherry, CEO of Bikeability Trust UK, commended the pupils’ skills and attitude.  She thanked the organisers and instructors for creating Bikeability Olympics. “It’s the only one of its kind in the country,” she said.  “You should all be proud of what you’ve achieved.”

MK Mayor Cllr Mick Legg (pictured left below), told the children, teachers and parents: “Our Council is proud of what you’ve done. We want more children to cycle to school.”

SONY DSC

The action

The winners (full results here):

  • Bike Detectives
    • Gold: Thusani Suseelan, Water Hall School
    • Silver: Patrik Konya, New Bradwell School
    • Bronze: Ivy Thota, Loughton School
  • Obstacle Course
    • Gold: Rae Langston, Giles Brook School
    • Silver: Jake, Bushfield School
    • Bronze: Sophie Christie, Barleyhurst School
  • Relay Race
    • Gold: Ted, Bushfield School
    • Silver: Thomas Jolly, Giles Brook School
    • Bronze: Dylan G, Two Miles Ash School
  • Slow Race
    • Gold: Ito P, Two Mile Ash School
    • Silver: George Jackson, Giles Brook School
    • Bronze: Ted, Bushfield School
  • Road Ride
    • Gold: Edie, Bushfield School
    • Silver: Ara S, Two Mile Ash School
    • Bronze: Natalia Hearn-Kasimi, Loughton School
  • Overall school winners
    • Gold: Bushfield School
    • Silver: Giles Brook School
    • Bronze: Two Mile Ash School

The presentations

Thanks to all teachers and parents who enabled their children to participate in Bikeability Olympics 2022-23.

Photos by Erin and Zdenka Mgbolu

Final presentations

Engraved trophies were presented to each of the winning schools by Deputy-Mayor Marie Bradburn at the CMK Carnival Cycle Ride on 13th July.

Supported by

With their European head office and Campbell Wharf store in Milton Keynes, Trek is excited to be part of this project encouraging kids and families to enjoy all the benefits that cycling brings.

in partnership with

MK Council has a goal to make Milton Keynes the UK’s leading city for cycle infrastructure.

and

with thanks too for support from Martin Swift of Cycle Saviours and Chris Barltrop of Avanti Cycling.

The inaugural Bikeability Olympics was held in MK on 7th July 2022 (see photo story). Plans are underway for Bikeability Olympics 2023-24.

Loughton School reaches Bikeability Olympics final

On Friday 30th June at Sports Central in CMK, Loughton School progressed to the Final of Bikeability Olympics 2023 on 7th July. There they will join Bushfield and Two Mile Ash, whose second teams also progressed to the final.

In drizzly weather, 26 pupils from 7 schools competed in each of five contests, including a road ride around Loughton.

“Thanks to all (Bikeability) instructors for another amazing event today,” said Jake Saville, Head of PE & Enrichment Coordinator at Two Mile Ash.

The final results were as follows (3 points for a contest win, 2 for 2nd place, 1 for 3rd place):

Schools

  • Two Mile Ash – 14 points
  • Loughton – 6 points
  • Bushfield – 4 points
  • New Bradwell – 3 points
  • Water Hall – 3 points

Individuals

  • Marshall B, Two Mile Ash – 6 points
  • Darragh B-A,  Two Mile Ash – 4 points
  • Ito P, Two Mile Ash – 3 points
  • Natalia Hearn-Kasimi, Loughton – 3 points
  • Patrik Konya, New Bradwell – 3 points
  • Thushani Suseelan, Water Hall – 3 points

Lauren Townsend, MK City Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Realm, presented the certificates and encouraged them to continue cycling.

Supported by

With their European head office and Campbell Wharf store in Milton Keynes, Trek is excited to be part of this project encouraging kids and families to enjoy all the benefits that cycling brings.

in partnership with

MK Council has a goal to make Milton Keynes the UK’s leading city for cycle infrastructure.

and

Mayor’s Cycling Breakfast 6.7.23

On Thursday 6th July, 20 leaders from 13 business and education institutions attended the third Mayor’s Cycle Breakfast & Awards of the year, which was hosted by The Open University (photo story of last one on 16th March). The meeting was organised by Cycling CitizensMK, a project funded by grants from MK City Council’s Economic Recovery Fund and Capability Fund, using monies from Active Travel England and the Department for Transport.

Following a welcome from event Chair Deborah Cooper, of MK Cycle Forum, Professor Nick Braithwaite, VCE Sponsor for Sustainability and Executive Dean at The OU gave an opening address: “We aim to be carbon neutral by 2030.  I see it as my job, stimulated by this morning, to increase the number of people cycling to The Open University. You can rely on us doing our bit as a relatively large employer in the region.”

Then Adam Sciberras, Special Projects Director of MK Development Partnership, shared some of the ideas driving MK planning for 2050. “For too long the city has been steered by a small group of people who have lived here a long while. We’re trying to listen to those people who are moving here and will be here in the future. We’re trying to introduce cycling as a more sustainable way of getting around the city.”

Cllr Jenny Wilson-Marklew, Cabinet Member for Climate Action & Sustainability, said: “As a city we need to not just take our cycling infrastructure for granted and think, well obviously we’re going to be an active travel city, and think more about what that network needs to look like so people can use it efficiently.

“The way I am trying to work in my role and to promote active travel and public transport is to bring it into the round, so it’s about making the conversation not just about cycling, but about the health benefits of active travel, and frame it around poverty.”

Murray Woodburn, the Council’s new Head of Traffic & Transport, will say: “There are some things we can do which are quick wins.  Lighting, surfacing, priorities and removing obstructions, are relatively cheap and can be done relatively quickly.”

Then the Top Cycling Company awards were presented by MK Mayor Mick Legg and Mayoress Mandy Legg based on bike counts and the number of cycling promotion initiatives undertaken (full results here). The winners were: The Open University, Network Rail, Niftylift, MK Council and Volkswagen Financial Services. Walton High won the Top Cycling School award.

The OU’s Neville the Newt also visited.

The meeting also enjoyed presentations from Dave Lewis of The Parks Trust, Chris Brittain of Walton High and Clive Faine of Abbeygate and MK Cycle Forum, and finally heard from Ian Revell, CEO of MK Community Foundation, about the upcoming CMK Carnival Cycle Ride on Thursday 13th July.

Cyclists rally for CMK Egg Hunt 6.4.23

On 6th April, 35 cyclists rallied for Mayor’s Cycling Awards at The Old Bus Station and an Egg Hunt ride through CMK.

Logo designed by Tim Layden, photos by Jane Russell of JAR Photography.

Following free Dr Bike services from Cycle Saviours and a Bunny Hop contest for a £25 prize won by teenager Dominic H,

MK’s Deputy Mayor & Mayoress presented awards for cycling achievements in the MK Business Cycling Challenge and the MK Schools Cycling Challenge and to Adam Sciberras of MK Development Partnership for his participation in the Better Points reward scheme.

While the awards were being presented, free hot snacks were provided by Namji’s Restaurant in Xscape.

MC Richard Allman of MK Bikeability introduced Cllr Jennifer Wilson-Marklew, City Council Cabinet Member for Climate Action and Sustainability, who gave a short speech about why cycling is important to the Council’s plans to promote active travel.

She talked about the health and sustainability benefits of cycling. “We must get people out of their cars,” she said. “We must make it easier for people to use cycle routes or any new infrastructure we build to allow them to get to places they need to go” (see video from Paul Lane).

Julie Dawes & Lutin Smuts of The Parks Trust talked about the launch of its new 30 Mile Cycle Challenge.

Richard Allman briefed riders on the Cycling Egg Hunt challenge through CMK to Campbell Park Light Pyramid. This involved cycling to collect mystery numbers along Midsummer Boulevard.

Six teams contested the challenge.

The challege was won by a four-person team including the winner of last year’s Cycle Egg Hunt, Miles Gray (pictured second from left below, with Elaine Wales second from right).

A large chocolate Easter egg prize was presented by Elaine Wales of John Lewis,

with additional chocolate eggs donated by Liz Tribe of ICAEW.

Finally three contestants took part in the Pyramid Leap challenge, a timed competition to cycle down the pyramid hill, around the nearest tree and back to the top.

This contest was won by Tam Sheikh of Trek Bikes, who received a £25 prize.

Free bike vouchers for the Cycle Egg Hunt were made available by nextbike “We want to be part of the MK community,” said nextbike’s Leigh Richards, “really want to be engaged with it.”

Nextbike enables a user friendly service that supports cities in creating sustainable and integrated travel solutions.

The next big ride through CMK will be on Thursday 13th July (see calendar for details). All welcome.

City leaders welcome report on cycling to school

Leaders from MK business, Council and voluntary organisations reacted positively to the findings of a large-scale survey of students’ travel behaviours and attitudes.

The survey of 2500 secondary school students showed 12% of Year 7 students cycle to school while 50% are driven. And of those living within a 15-minute cycle ride, nearly 40% are driven.

The report recommends action from schools and MK City Council to promote cycling to school in order to achieve personal health & wellbeing and net-zero carbon goals.

Cllr Emily Darlington, Cabinet Member for Adults, Housing and Healthy Communities, said: “If we could get more people cycling for leisure, exercise and transport, we could transform the mental health of people in this city.”

Cllr Zoe Nolan, Cabinet Member for Children & Families, said: “Imagine the difference we could make if we could get 1000 more Year 7 students cycling to school rather than being driven. Promoting cycling from the earliest age is so important. Talking to parents about how their children can cycle safely to school is vital. I am certain we can increase the 12% who are currently cycling.”

The event also celebrated the achievements of participants in the 2022-23 Business Cycling Challenge and the Schools Cycling Challenge. Mayor Amanda Marlow presented the following awards:

  • Top Cycling Company (most cycles on site one day) – Niftylift
  • Top Cycling Company (biggest increase in cycles on site since December) – Volkswagen Financial Services
  • Top Cycling School (most students in travel survey) – Walton High
  • Top Cycling School (most bicycles at school one day), 3rd Place – Lord Grey Academy

Ian Revell, CEO of MK Community Foundation, talked to the video of Cycling Santas 22.12.22 and outlined plans for the CMK Egg Hunt ride 6.4.23, inviting all join.

Bikeability Instructor Dave Lewis outlined plans for the launch of Bikeability Olympics 2023 (to video of Bikeability Olympics 2022).

Jacqueline Fairclough of MK City Council’s Transport Planning team announced the launch of Better Points 2023, the app which enables MK residents to accumulate points for goods and services or charity donations simply by walking, cycling or using public transport.

Finally Clive Faine of MK Cycle Forum and Malcolm Davies of Trek Bikes talked about the need to follow up the report, and the MK Cycle City Vision meeting at Trek Bikes on 2.2.23, and plan next steps towards building a sustainable alliance of business and voluntary organisations to help the Council increase cycling.

Michael Pattinson, Director of Mobility at PWC, explained there would be a follow-on meeting for potential alliance members across the road at PWC. At this meeting, it was agreed that a prospectus would be drawn up for potential members to consider and respond to within the next month.

Fishermead Citizens Assembly with Lord Lieutenant 23.2.23

More than 100 Fishermead residents and leaders of local civil society institutions – churches, mosque, schools and other community groups – attended a meeting with the Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire, The Countess Howe, hosted by the Chinese Overseas Church Mission (COCM) on Padstow Ave. They wanted to know if she could help them get a visit from the Royal Family later to celebrate the estate’s 50th birthday later in the year.

This followed an assembly with the High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire three months ago to celebrate Fishermead’s successes and talk about plans celebration (see photo story).

The evening began with a warm welcome to COCM from Rev Henry Lu and (above) an introduction from Fola Komolafe, MBE, President of MK Community Foundation (below) .

Then Lady Howe (below) told residents about her role as Lord Lieutenant and what had it been like for me so far.

Ophelia Cole of Action Speaks introduced Alix Saunders (below) , Enhanced Practitioner at Pebbles Children Centre, who talked about what her Centre had learned about early years education. She was surprised by the loudness of the timing bell (rung by Derek Bayley of Trinity Centre)!

There was more excitement when Jubilee Wood Primary School choir (below) thrilled the audience with a Cornish sea song (relating to all Fishermead’s streets being named after places in Cornwall).

Then Mike Kelly of MK Samaritans and Clare Doughty of Salvation Army Lifehouse talked about what they had learned about supporting mental health and wellbeing.

In a show of great personal kindness, young Muhammed of MK Gallacticos Football Club (above) won the keepyuppies football contest in front of the audience – by 100 touches! – and generously shared his £30 cash prize with the two other contestants.

Badr Zamaan, representing local shop Sabeeh Mini Market (above), explained why Fishermead is unhappy with its reputation and said ‘If a Prince comes to Fishermead, who can say it is not safe here?’

then Ursy White (above) outlined plans for about Fishermead. She told the story of how the alien Zarina landed at Fishermead’s junior school one night in 1988 and enthralled the pupils for several weeks and explained the plan to both screen a film of that project and make another film about ‘Fishermead landings’ with today’s residents in May-June this year.

Various leaders then explained why they wanted a Royal Visit for Fishermead: Rev Ian Herbert of Trinity Centre Anglican Church (below);

Matt O’Brien, Headteacher of Jubilee Wood Primary School, which has 530 pupils and 70 staff, (on video link and pictured below) ;

Nana K of Xtrim Hair and Beauty salon (below),

and Benson of Freestyle Cosmetics Salon (on video link) (below):

Maria Affa of the Make Good Better Breakfast Club (below) ;

Cllr Zamzam Osman of Campbell Park Parish Council (below).

Then the Lord Lieutenant was presented with a small gift (from the Zarina Project) (below)

and gave her reaction to what she had seen and heard during the evening, how positively it made her think about Fishermead, and how pleased she was that the process for requesting a Royal Visit was underway (although she didn’t have the power to actually make it happen). Countess Howe pledged to return to Fishermead on 2nd July to present awards at the Fishermead 50 celebration party (below)

and received a loud round of applause.

The assembly ended off with positive comments from its co-chairs – David Hart, Pavle Trajkovski, Ophelia Cole and Ruth Legh-Smith – and a call to action for residents to attend an open planning meeting on Thursday 9th March for the celebration event on Sunday 2nd July.

Then Fishermead resident Harold Sharpe MBE, Headcoach of Special Needs Units Gymnastics (SNUGS) showed the medals won by his daughter Jennifer in world competition.

And finally, there was a wonderful display of Bulgarian dancing led by Krasimira Valcheva (below).

In post-event evaluation, participants said they felt ‘positive’, ‘inspired’ and ‘uplifted’, and rated the event 8.5 out of 10, with points lost for a lack of turnout from senior staff in local schools.

Fishermead shopkeepers pledge to support 50th birthday celebration

(Pictures by Sagar Kharecha.)

On 27th January six shopkeepers in Fishermead met at Frank Howe Court and agreed to work together to organise a celebration of the estate’s 50th birthday this summer.

The meeting was organised by Ruth Legh-Smith, a resident of Frank Howe Court, and attended by Cllr Terry Baines, Chair of Campbell Park Parish Council and fellow councillors Martin Petchey and Zamzam Osman; also Pavle Trajkovski, Pastor of Fishermead Seventh Day Adventist Church.

The shops were represented as follows:

  • Nana K of Xtrim Hair & Beauty
  • Benson of Freestyle Salon
  • Nuzral of XLN Take Away
  • MD Acam of Sabeeh Mini Market
  • Gloria of Testimony Ghana Food
  • Ali Asghar of Evergreen Foods.

A follow up meeting of the shopkeepers will be held in three months time, when plans for the Fishermead Is 50 celebrations are further advanced.

Cycling Santas bring joy to city centre

On 22nd December, 42 Cycling Santas left The Old Bus Station for a short ride through Central Milton Keynes to Campbell Park and back and made many friends. This was the second year of preparation for a world record-breaking attempt in 2023 (see video and photos of last year here).

The event was reported by BBC TV (above) and on BBC online and YouTube (Adventures of Paul). (Photos below are by Jane Russell Photograph unless otherwise indicated.)

As well as creating fun, the aim was to bring together leaders from different business, education and community organisations towards building a broad-based alliance to get more people cycling in MK.

Following free Dr Bike services from Cycle Saviours, a Winter Wheelie stunt contest (£50 prize won by Loven Prentice, pictured left in main picture below)

and breakdancing display from MK’s own Kevin Kallon

MK’s Deputy-Mayor and -Mayoress, Cllr Mick and Mandy Legg,

(photo by Sagar Kharecha)

presented awards to schools and businesses for cycling achievements this winter (listed below).

Jodi Houghton (pictured below) spoke about why cycling is important to The Open University and what they are doing to encourage cycling there

and a raffle was drawn. Then the Cycling Santas rode out to the drums of new MK band Panacea Samba.

and proceeded up Midsummer Boulevard.

Along the walkway between thecentre:mk and Midsummer Place, the Santas dismounted, in accordance with instruction on blue sign

(photo by Sagar Kharecha)

and distributed flyers promoting cycling to shoppers,

then circled outside MK Theatre

(photo by Sagar Kharecha)

and around MK Rose

Cycling Santas circling the MK Rose (filmed by Iain Talbot)

before the final stretch

(photo by Sagar Kharecha)

to the Light Pyramid for a final hohoho

(photo by Sagar Kharecha)

and turnaround for the ride back to The Old Bus Station (see video from The Salvage Hacker).

(photo by Sagar Kharecha)

Mayor’s Winter Cycling Awards 2022

  • Top Bikeability School 2022 (total no. trainee riders) – Middleton Primary School (246 riders), collected by Philip Morris.
  • Top Cycling Hardiness School (lowest decrease in no. cycles parked at end of term compared with beginning) – Lord Grey Academy (-11%), collected by Tim Layden
  • Top Cycling Innovation School (highest number of Cycling Initiatives per student) – Watling Academy (0.36)
  • Top Cycling Research School (highest number of survey respondents per 100 pupils) – Walton High (36)
  • Wheelie Contest Winner (£50 cash prize) – Loven Prentice
  • Top Cycling Company (highest no. cycles this month) – The Open University (22), collected by Jodi Houghton, and Santander (22)
  • Top Cycling Company (highest no. cycles per 100 staff one day this month) – Gemini Rail Services (7.87)
  • Services to Cycling – MK Highways Department for gritting the roads in freezing weather, collected by Naveed Ahmed.

Thanks to Nextbike for providing free Santander bicycles for those who needed them. “We want to be part of the MK community,” said nextbike’s Leigh Richards, “really want to be engaged with it.”

Thanks to Ringway Infrastructure Services for providing cones.

And thanks to Jane Russell Photography and Sagar Khachera (where indicated above) for the photos.

Discerning Assembly 3.12.22

It is hard to convey why a Citizens Assembly is so special.  OK, so 40 people from a dozen different institutions in MK gathered at Cornerstone Church for two hours on a Saturday morning to agree on their campaigns for next year. Big yawn, surely? Was it to avoid doing the Christmas shopping?

No!  It because Assemblies are fun and inspiring!  Because a buzz develops. Because that’s what happens when you have one-to-one conversations meeting new people; when you hear of campaigns making a difference in people’s lives; when you experience a different sort of democracy in action; and come to understand how we can make properly make our private concerns into public action on things that really matter to us.  It is extraordinary: an Assembly is carefully orchestrated – and yet you don’t know what will happen.  

On this occasion a member of the MK Muslim Association, attending for the first time, gave impromptu testimony, speaking right from the heart.  A new campaign was born.

Regie Kpobi talked about knife crime

Suresh Nesaratnam of MK Council of Faiths (right in picture below) said: “Regie Kpobi’s efforts to combat knife crime, through presentations to vulnerable youngsters at places of worship, sounded like a campaign that was truly needed in MK – and I duly signed-up for it.”

Rob Paton of MK Quaker Meeting (right in picture below) said: “As one of the leaders of Action on Climate and the Environment, I was astonished at how many people moved over to stand by the climate campaign placard at the end – what a boost.  I went home elated.”

Jane Whild of The Open University (third from left in picture below) said: “It was wonderful to be assembled in person again and see many new faces as well as old friends. Our Misogyny Campaign Team attracted new representatives and I look forward to planning our next actions with them in January.”

Attendees show support for individual campaigns

Rev Catherine Butt of St. Frideswide’s Church (front of picture below), who co-chaired the assembly, said:  “There was a great energy in the room. It was wonderful to see familiar faces and meet new people who are passionate about seeing change in our city. Here’s to an action-packed 2023!”

Lest you are thinking this is too good to be true (puff and PR, surely?) another feature of Assemblies is the rapid ‘shout-out’ evaluations at the end. 

Post-assembly evaluation led by Rev Tim Norwood

We ask ‘How did we do?’  Indeed, one indicator of a good assembly is when lots of people stay to join in and are truthful about the shortcomings as well as the achievements. Which is exactly what happened.  In a lively few minutes we gave ourselves 8.5 out of 10 while also agreeing that we really must use microphones properly when we speak; and if we meet at this time of day, we need to offer childcare.

Assemblies are why so many of us love Citizens . Come to the next one and find out for yourself!

121 conversations

Fishermead residents get High Sheriff support for royal visit

125 Fishermead residents and guests filled Trinity Community Centre for a celebration assembly and meeting with powerholders including the Mayor of Milton Keynes (2nd from left below) and High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire (far left below)

The assembly was organised by a group of Fishermead residents and workers who are building a citizens alliance of Fishermead institutions as part of a Community Organising project funded by MK Community Foundation. (Hear Assembly audio recording.)

Rev Pavle Trajovski, Fishermead Seventh Day Adventist Church, Assembly Co-Chair

Their goal was to strengthen relationships with powerholders and get pledges of support from them for the idea of a royal visit to celebrate Fishermead’s 50th birthday next year.

In 1973, the first house was built in Fishermead. Today there are 1,400 households and a proudly diverse community. One thing residents are not proud of is Fishermead’s reputation, which they think is unfairly negative.

Cllr Amanda Marlow, Mayor of MK, told the Assembly: “When MK was founded, the builders moved in pretty early to start building Fishermead. So many of you are original inhabitants of Fishermead, which makes such a difference.  You are encouraging people to stay and to grow their families here and to make a difference to future generations.”

Awards were presented to Fishermead heroes, including The Co-op store staff and security guard Abdul; the Landscaping team of Campbell Park Parish Council (collected by Council Chair, Terry Baines); and PCSO Craig Hawksworth.

Following video testimonies from the children of Willows First School, in which they described all the things they liked about Fishermead, there was a breakdancing display led by Kevin Kallon (bottom right below), who grew up on Fishermead and now runs breakdancing classes at Trinity Centre on Monday evenings.

Young football players of MK Galacticos FC took part in a ‘keepyuppies’ contest, with the £30 cash prize going to winner Mohammed.

Then the choir of Jubilee Wood School sang ‘Count On Me’ while the Royal Visit Petition signatures were counted.

Assembly Co-chair David Hart then announced the total number was 580 signatures (representing nearly half of all Fishermead households). The High Sheriff later described this as “an incredible community building initiative”.

12 Community leaders, including Willows First Headteacher Jo Orbell and Parish Council Chair Terry Baines, took turns to say what it would mean to their institution if a royal visit could be arranged.

Badir Zamaan Mustapha, representing the owner of Sabeeh Market shops on Gurnards Avenue, lifted the roof when he said: “What we must do together is slay the Fishermead reputation dragon and rescue the princess of real Fishermead!”

Then High Sheriff Debbie Brock responded with details of what next steps would be required.  She emphasised the importance of acting quickly to get a chance of a royal visit next summer (see transcript of High Sheriff’s speech) and pledged to contact the Lord Lieutenant stating her support for the idea. “It’s been really inspirational,” she said.

(Afterwards, the High Sheriff wrote: “It was spectacularly well attended with great contributions and real vitality. The collection of signatures was a great community building exercise in its own right and it would be great to keep them as a real public record of the support for the visit and celebrations”).

The organising team is appealing to Fishermead residents to add their signatures to the Royal Visit Petition online (if they haven’t already signed the paper petition) and get involved in preparations for Fishermead’s 50th birthday celebrations in 2023.

A short group evaluation immediately after the Assembly gave a score of 8/9 out of 10, noting the absence of the Headteacher of Jubilee Wood Primary School and insufficient audio amplification. One participant said: “The children were amazing, I would never have dared to do what they did tonight when I was their age, and the people who came with them.” Total turnout was 125 people.

For more information, contact Community Organiser Tom Bulman, fishermead@citizensuk.org, 07962 838685.

Thanks to Sagar Kharecha for photography (up to 7pm) and Maria Affa and Derek Bailey (below) for refreshments.

Other photos from the evening

(Main picture above shows Sophie Richens of Fishermead Trinity Centre.)

The picture below shows Rev Ian Herbert of Fishermead Trinity Church presenting the award to Sharona Edwards, collecting on behalf of The Co-op Convenience Store, three weeks after the Assembly (thanks to Ruth Legh-Smith).

Women enjoy Learn To Ride on Saturday morning

On the morning of Saturday 12th November six women joined a Learn To Ride course provided by MK Council and led by Bikeability trainers Nicky and Maria. The location was Hollin Lane in Stacey Bushes, home of Cycle Saviours who loaned the bikes.

“It was helpful and very enjoyable,” said Kurshida Mirza of Truby’s Garden Tea Room. “When we can we do more?”

A series of five further sessions is being planned for Spring 2023. If you are interested to attend, contact Tom Bulman, cyclingmk@citizensuk.org, tel 07962 838685.

Mayor’s Cycling & Sustainability Awards, Autumn 2022

Following the 50-Day Workplace Challenger recorded by the Better Points app the first phase of MK Schools Cycling Challenge 2022-23, MK Mayor Amanda Marlow presented the awards at a breakfast hosted by Network Rail on 10th November.

35 people attended from 19 MK business, education and voluntary organisations interested in increasing the number of people cycling to work and school in MK.

The presentation began with a film about cycling in MK produced by MK Grid Spinners and was then introduced by Deborah Cooper of MK Cycle Forum; Jo Lewington, Chief Environment & Sustainability Officer of Network Rail; Cllr Zoe Nolan, Cabinet member for Children and Families, MK Council, and Ian Revell, CEO of MK Community Foundation.

Cllr Zoe Nolan

Mayor Amanda Marlow said “encouraging children and young people to cycle is important for their wellbeing” and presented the following awards:

  • Top Cycling School (most bicycles at school one day) – 1st place, Walton High (227), collected by Chris Brittain
  • Top Cycling School (most bicycles at one school per 100 pupils) – 1st place, Watling Academy (10.71), collected by Jo Barford
  • Top Cycling Company (most cycling activities & miles cycled) – 1st place, Gemini Rail Services (285 & 3793) – collected by David Smith, Free Dr. Bike Repair Day prize donated to Watling Academy
  • Top Cycling Company (most cycling activities & miles cycled) – 2nd place, The Open University (208 & 1074) – collected by Jodi Houghton
  • Top Cycling Company (most cycling activities per employee) – ICAEW (35.2) – collected by Liz Tribe
  • Top Cycling Individual (most cycling activities) – 1st place, Ann Kiceluk, World Vision (93) – prize Cycling Helmet (from Cycling CitizensMK)
  • Top Cycling Individual (most cycling activities) – 2nd place, Alan Dewick, Gemini Rail Services (87) – prize £50 voucher (from Better Points)
  • Top Cycling Individual (most cycling activities) – 3rd place, David Smith, Gemini Rail Services (71) – prize T-shirt/tote bag (from MK Council)
  • Winning Walker (most walking activities) – 1st place, Steve Porritt, Gemini Rail Services (221) – prize Bone conducting headphones (from MK Council)
  • Winning Walker (most walking activities) – 2nd place, Charlie Byron, Gemini Rail Services (112) – prize T-shirt/tote bag (from MK Council)
  • C02 Saver (most CO2 saved from walking and sustainable journey modes) – 1st place, Steve Porritt, Gemini Rail Services (265) – prize £50 voucher (from Better Points)
  • C02 Saver (most CO2 saved from walking and sustainable journey modes) – 2nd place, Alan Dewick, Gemini Rail Services (179) – prize T-shirt/tote bag (from MK Council)
  • Most Sustainable Traveler (most sustainable bus journeys – bus, train, MK connect, eScooter, Car Club Journey) – 1st place – Maham Khan, Network Rail (38) – prize £50 voucher (from Better Points)
  • Most Sustainable Traveler (most sustainable bus journeys – bus, train, MK connect, eScooter, Car Club Journey) – 2nd place – Ian Turvey, World Vision (17) – prize T-shirt/tote bag (from MK Council)
  • Top Better Points Company (most engagements per person) – Gemini Rail Services – donation of £200 to Willen Hospice (from Better Points).

“Taking part in competitions like this improves morale in our workplace,” said David Smith of Gemini Rail Services.

Richard Allman, Bikeability Instructor with MK Council, announced the launch of Bikeability Olympics 2023 for primary schools (including video of Bikeability Olympics 2022) and Raeesa Chowdhury of MK Council Transport Planning team gave an update on current initiatives.

Primary school pupil in action at Bikeability Olylmpics 2022

Clive Faine of Abbeygate Development and MK Cycle Forum talked about the importance of continued support for Cycling CitizensMK’s behaviour change agenda, and Malcolm Davies talked about Trek Bikes’ rationale for supporting it.

Then all participants went outside for a photo to celebrate Network Rail’s recent instalment of visitor cycle racks resulting from Cycling CitizensMK’s agitation.

It was announced that this year’s Cycling Santas ride would be on 15th December leaving The Old Bus Station at 6pm, all welcome.

After the photo call, 10 participants attended a ‘How To Promote Cycling In My Institution’ workshop sharing best practice of businesses and schools and agreed a series of follow up actions.

(Thanks to Lisa Hathway of GGS UK for standing in at short notice to take photos of the award winners!)

Fishermead residents petition to reduce car speeds

Following a serious car accident and a series of near misses involving children, more than 500 residents of Fishermead have signed a petition demanding slower car speeds.

“My 12-year-old niece was killed in a car accident and my own kids have had their own near misses,” said Sophie Richens (photo below). “For the climate we need our kids walking to school, but only if it’s safe from speeding cars.”

Sophie is one of a fast-growing group of Fishermead residents campaigning for car speeds to be reduced to 20mph on the estate.

David Hart, one of the campaign leaders and a resident of Fishermead for more than 30 years (pictured below), said: “The design of the estate streets mean that in many places cars travel inches away from children on the pavement.  Research shows that a 20mph speed limit would mean a sevenfold reduction in the change of serious injury compared to 30mph. We just need a majority of residents to sign the petition.”

One Saturday, following a short training including a briefing from the Police on safe door-knocking techniques, campaigners visited more than two hundred houses and flats to gather signatures for the petition.  Campaigners also stood outside the Co-Op collecting signatures.

A group of campaigners sets off to collect signatures.

The petition was submitted to MK Council on 31st August and is now in process of consideration.  Campaigners are confident the Council will agree to implement a new 20mph zone across Fishermead during 2023, coinciding with Fishermead’s 50th birthday celebrations.

If you haven’t added your name to the petition and would like to, you can do so online by clicking tinyurl.com/20mph4us.

Tom Bulman, Community Organiser for a project to build the power of Fishermead Citizens, funded by MK Community Foundation, said: “We hope this campaign will bring the community together to make a difference on Fishermead. Most residents feel proud of their estate and want to feel safe. This will make them feel safer.”

MK new kid on block for cycling

120 people from across Milton Keynes gathered for a short cycle ride through the city centre to celebrate MK’s new city status and recent increases in cycling to school and work in MK delivered by Cycling CitizensMK. See:

“I always thought Cambridge was the cycling capital of our region,” said ITV News reporter Matt Hudson, “but there’s a new kid on the block. The city of Milton Keynes wants to be the place which has the most people using pedal power.”

The ride was organised by Cycling CitizensMK, a project funded by MK Council. The riders included MK Councillors, business and school leaders, primary school pupils, teenagers and vintage bicyclists in their 70s. See film produced by Real Solid Media.

10-year-old Luca Galeanu, who recently helped Bradwell Village School win MK’s (and UK’s) first Bikeability Olympics competition between primary schools, said: “Cycling is important because I learn new things and make new friends, plus it keeps you healthy.”

Teenager Charlotte of MK Youth Cabinet said: “I really enjoy cycling with my friends, I just find it’s an easy way to get around.”

“Cycling is a Council priority,” said Cllr Mick Legg, Deputy Mayor of Milton Keynes (below), who presented the Mayor’s Cycling Awards. “It goes to our cycling strategy and our target to halve our carbon emissions by 2030. We’ve long been a supporter of cycling. We’ve got over 300 miles of redway network.”

“For us it’s a real win-win,” said Richard Scott of Volkswagen Financial Services (above), winner of the award for large company with the highest number of cycle trips per employee. “Cycling is good for our colleagues’ health, not only physical but also mental health. Our group cycle rides in the evenings help camaraderie, bring colleagues together.”

“Cycling Citizens MK has given us motivation to get out and about in MK,” said Liz Tribe, Senior Employer Training and CPD Support Executive at the Institute of Chartered Accountants, winner of the Top Large Companies (average trips per employee) award.

The Mayor’s Cycling Awards presentation took place on Thursday 14th July at The Old Bus Station (schedule), following a Vintage Bicycle Competition (see bikes) and Bunny Hop and Wheelie stunt contests (see trailer) – award winners listed below. MC for the presentation was Ian Revell, CEO of MK Community Foundation.

MK Council’s Highways department received a Special Thanks award, presented by Dylan Murray, Deputy Member of Youth Parliament MK South, and collected by Andy Dickinson, Client Services Manager of MK Highways. “Without your hard work maintaining our roads and redways,” said Ian Revell, “none of us would be able to cycle in MK.”

Andy Dickinson receives Special Thanks award and garland designed by local artist Philippa Tipper.

The awards were preceded by a short performance from MK champion break dancer Kevin Kallon and hot snacks from Namji’s Restaurant were served during the awards presentation.

Breakdancer Kevin Kallon

Former Mayor Cllr Mohammed Khan told the riders how proud he had been to see city status achieved during his time as MK Mayor and how important cycling was to MK’s vision of itself as a city.

The riders set off for the short ride to Campbell Park shortly after 6pm.

The ride proceeded up Midsummer Boulevard.

And arrived at the Light Pyramid in Campbell Park for a final celebration.

The award winners (photos below)

  • Category 1: MK’s Top Large Companies (average trips per employee):
    • ICAEW (0.89) – Liz Tribe, Senior Employer Training and CPD Support Executive
    • Volkswagen Financial Services (0.76) – Richard Scott, Chair of Employee Forum
    • The Open University (0.48) – Nick Braithwaite, Head of Sustainability
    • Gemini Rail Services UK (0.45) – David Smith, Change Control Manager
    • Red Bull Technology (0.35) – Phill Elvidge, Production Control
  • Category 2: MK’s Top Secondary Schools (average trips per student & staff member):
    • The Radcliffe School (1.29) – Paula Lawson, Headteacher
    • Watling Academy (0.51) – Ian Bacon, Headteacher
    • Ousedale School (0.26) – Tim Coffey, Teacher
  • Category 3: MK Bikeability Olympics Awards for primary schools:
    • Gold Award: Giles Brook School
    • Silver Award: Bradwell Village School
    • Bronze Award: Oxley Park School
  • Category 4: Contest Awards organised by Cycle Saviours and Iain Talbot
    • Stunt Contest Gold Award (£100 cash prize): Brandon
    • Stunt Contest Silver Award (£50 cash prize): Tim
    • Stunt Contest Bronze Award (£50 Madison voucher): Alex
    • Vintage Bicycle Gold Award (£50 Madison voucher): Allan
    • Vintage Bicycle Silver Award (£10 John Lewis voucher): Barry
    • Vintage Bicycle Competition Bronze Award (£10 John Lewis voucher): Steve
  • Category 4: Special Award
    • MK Council Head of Highways – Thank you for providing our roads and redways. Collected by Andy Dickinson, Client Services Manager.

The contests

Bunny Hop

Vintage Bicycles

Iain Talbot (front) and Chris Bridgman

Award winners

Business winners

Secondary schools winner

Paula Lawson, Headteacher of The Radcliffe School

Primary Schools (Bikeability Olympics)

Vintage Bicycle contest winners

Stunt contest winners

All winners

Special thanks to MK Development Partnership for permitting use of the area outside The Old Bus Station and Ringway Infrastructure Services for providing cones and tape to mark the area off for safety.

See how MKFM Radio trailed the event.

For more information, contact:

Note: Category 1 and 2 awards were based on business and schools’ performances over four cycling competitions 2021-22 (Bike Month June 2021Cycle September 2021Winter Wheelers 2021Ride Anywhere March 2022)

Photos by Jane Russell Photography.

Film: click here to see Thomas Gray’s fantastic new film about cycling in MK, Grid Spinners.

Future rides. Cycling enthusiasts meet for a short ride through CMK every Thursday 5.30pm. Just show up at The Old Bus Station.

Fishermead Community Walk part 2

Five leaders from four Fishermead institutions visited four others on another sunny day in Fishermead. Those giving short talks at their institution’s doors were: Mike Kelly, Director of MK Samaritans; Jo Orbell, Headteacher of Willows First School; Clare Doughty, Assistant Support Worker at the Salvation Army Life House; Don Mahon, Treasurer of Fishermead Trinity Church; and Gonzalez, Deputy Manager of The Coop Convenience Store.

After the walk, Clare (pictured outside the entrance to Life House above), wrote, “How great it was to get to know you all and hear your interesting talks about each institution”, and reached out to offer marketing support to Mike and metal fabrication support to Don.

Listening to Jo Orbell (second from left) outisde Willows First School
Listening to Don Mahon (second from right) outside Trinity Church and Centre

A Community Walk part 3 is being planned for September.

Primary pupils compete in MK’s first Bikeability Olympics

To celebrate MK as a cycling city, children from nine MK primary schools showed off their cycling skills in MK’s first ever Bikeability Olympics competition.  Events included an Obstacle Course, Relay Race, Slow Race and Road Ride testing Bikeability skills. See:

Obstacle Course

This was the culmination of a year in which 3,000 pupils have been trained to achieve Bikeability levels 1 and 2 in 40 primary schools.  The event was the first of its kind – with branding permission from The Bikeability Trust – and a celebration of MK’s promotion of cycling as clean, low-cost and healthy way to get to travel around the city.

The winning school was Giles Brook Primary School, whose team of five contestants achieved two Golds and one Bronze medal.  Bradwell Village took second place, with pupil Luca Galeanu achieving the highest individual medal tally of all contestants, and Oxley Park came third (individual medalists listed below).

Winners Giles Brook School with Jo Lewington of Network Rail

Jo Lewington, Chief Environment and Sustainability Officer of Network Rail, who presented the medals, said: “We are always looking for new ways to promote sustainability.  We’re delighted to have Network Rail staff playing their part as volunteer marshals at this Bikeability Olympics event.”

Volunteer marshals from Network Rail with Thank You trophy

Councillor Lauren Townsend, Cabinet Member for Public Realm who attended Bikeability Olympics, said: “This is a great way to encourage children to cycle more.  We know it’s good for health and can save money as well as saving the environment.  It’s impressive that we have so many young people cycling safely to school.  MK Council is proud to have the ambitious goal of becoming the UK’s leading city for cycling infrastructure”.

Teacher Luke Bartishel from Orchard Academy primary school said: “Our school has purchased enough bicycles for all our pupils to do Bikeability training.  The Bikeability Olympics was an amazing event, a great idea, and the kids loved it.”

Slow Race

Bikeability Instructor Nicky Newlands, who has trained many children this year, said: “It’s wonderful to see how much the cyclists have improved and now competing together.  I hope to see many more next year, please talk to your school.”

Pump Relay Race

Dave Lewis, the Bikeability Instructor who led the ‘Quadrathon’ Road Ride through Loughton, said: “What an amazing afternoon. The students on the road ride were all fantastic, and as an instructor it’s such a proud moment to reconnect with former students.” 

Daniel Mullins, Operations Director of Ringway Infrastructure Services, said: “This is a fantastic event and we’re delighted to be supporting the event by lending some traffic management equipment to help mark out the various contest areas and help the children to cycle safely while competing.”

Martin Swift of Cycle Saviours, who created the unique Bikeability Olympics trophies, said: “Cycle Saviours is proud to have supported this event, helping younger children enjoy the fresh air and exercise.”

Luca Galeanu of Bradwell Village School, Victor Ludorum

Jonathan Stone, Manager of Trek Bikes’ new store at Campbell Wharf, which lent bicycles for the Bike Detectives contest, said:  “We want more people in MK to cycle.  It is great to be involved in the local community and we are always on the lookout for opportunities to help with local cycling events and initiatives to get more bums on bikes!”

MK Deputy-Mayor Mick Legg presented certificates to the school winners of Bikeability Olympics at the Mayor’s Cycling Awards and City Status Cycle Ride the following week.

Click here to see how MKFM promoted it.

In post-event feedback, parents and teachers scored 4.8/5.0 ‘the likelihood I would recommend the event to someone else’ and 4.7/5.0 ‘my feeling that the event would encourage the young people involved to cycle more often’.

The medalists

Photo galleries. All photos by Jane Russell Photography

The contests

The winners

Learning from Fishermead Community Walk

Nine leaders from Fishermead institutions took part in a Community Walk to find out from one another how they see life and times in Fishermead.

The group stopped off at the Seventh Day Adventist Church, Pebbles Nursery (pictured above), the playing field, Campbell Park Parish Council office (main picture), Frank Howe Court and the Chinese Overseas Christian Mission, to hear from leaders at each institution what they do and why, what they see and what they think about it.

Mike Kelly, Director of Samaritans MK, said: “I was really impressed by the strong sense of community support within Fishermead and the range of work being undertaken by the voluntary and other sectors in support of local residents.”

One of the issues discussed during the walk was car speeds. Walkers observed one particularly hazardous pedestrian/cycle crossing at the junction of Pentewan Gate and Child’s Way (pictured below), which is unmarked.

The Community Walk will be continued on Friday 15th July at 10am. If you’re interested to join, please contact Ruth Legh-Smith.

Councillor pledges to support Fishermead citizens’ agenda

23 Fishermead residents and workers representing 12 institutions attended an Accountability Assembly to engage with local Councillor Donna Fuller (top right of main picture and below).

Following a live BBC Look East broadcast from the Trinity Centre earlier in the week, they wanted her reaction to their agenda for change developed at a Delegates Assembly in March.

The Assembly was hosted by the Chinese Overseas Christian Mission on Pentewan Avenue, Fishermead, and began with a welcome from Eric Shan Lin (above) followed by a moment of silence in memory of local Cllr Carole Baume, ‘a special kind of politician’ who recently died.

Representing the local Council electoral candidate from the Labour Party, who was unable to attend, and in the absence of Conservative and LibDem candidates who had also been invited, sitting Councillor Fuller was asked to respond to a series of questions about Road Safety, Crime, Community and the Environment (see below).

Councillor Fuller responded positively to all the asks and pledged to work with the developing Fishermead Citizens Alliance to achieve its goals. She said: “For me this is about building a relationship with you. I am more than happy to represent and advocate for you. I just need you to tell me what you need. I personally commit and (if she is elected) I am sure Amber will too.”

Cllr Fuller’s support was welcomed and it was agreed there would be follow-up meetings with her.

In post-event evaluation, leaders gave a score of 8 out of 10.

Hear audio of the Assembly (with thanks to Eric).

From left to right above: Kay Smith of MK Community Foundation; Maria Affa of MGB Community Service; Jo Orbell, Headteacher of The Willows First School; and Cath Broadhead, Chair of Governors, The Willows First School.
Ruth Legh-Smith on door duty

(Photos by Zdenka Mgbolu.)

The Asks

Road Safety

  • How would you be able to engage with your local supporters to assist with the petition
  • campaign to ensure we gather as many signatures as possible?
  • If elected how would you support the campaign on the local council?

Crime

  • If elected, how would you make crime reduction on Fishermead a key priority?
  • How would you support the establishment of a local shopkeepers forum to share

Community

  • Would you commit to meeting the community at the breakfast club on a monthly basis?
  • When we have identified a long-term solution for managing a community café, would you commit to support in any areas we encounter difficulties?

Environment

  • Will you support local initiatives (clearing up footpaths, organising a community garden, landscaping) on Fishermead both financially and logistically?
  • Will you make the maintenance of Fishermead (landscaping, waste removal, street lights, roads and pavements, proper signage) your priority by facilitating the communication with different authorities and advocating on our behalf?

Fishermead Citizens Leaders Forum

Thursday 9th December, 7-8.30pm

hosted by Fishermead Mosque, Fishermead Blvd MK6 2LA, bringing together leaders from the following Fishermead ‘s civil society institutions, also leaders from partner institutions.

Civil society institutionsLeaders
7th Day Adventist Church Arnold Best, Bryan Maxwell
Action SpeaksOphelia Cole
Chinese Overseas Church MissionRev Henry Lu
Fishermead Community AssociationDarron Kendrick, Tonya Wilson, David & Melania Hart
Frank Howe CourtRuth Legh-Smith, Lizzie, Chris
Fishermead MosqueTajhudeen Lebbe
Jubilee Wood Primary SchoolHeadteacher Matt O’Brien sent apologies
Lifehouse (Salvation Army)Tom Lathwood, Clare Doughty
Trinity Community CentreHeinz Elbers, Sophie Richens
Trinity ChurchRev Ian Herbert, Don Mahon
Willows First SchoolHeadteacher Joanna Orbell
Partner institutions
Campbell Park Parish CouncilCllr Martin Petchey
MK Community FoundationKay Smith
Thames Valley Police
The Co-Op StoreCharlie Bird

AGENDA

(6.45pm Meet & Greet – light refreshments)

7.00 Invitation to witness evening prayers (optional)

7.15 Welcome from Mosque President Thajudeen Lebbe and Secretary Shameela

7.20 Introduction from Fishermead citizens:

  • What is community organising & training – David Hart
  • How Fishermead citizens have acted on Digital Exclusion – Rev Ian Herbert
  • My experience of Citizens action at Willows First School – Ophelia Cole

7.30 Weaving Trust carousel of 5-minute 121 conversations on ‘who are you and what issue(s) would your institution like to see action on to improve Fishermead?’ – Sophie Richens

7.55 Sharing of issues – leaders from each institution take turns to present Fishermead issues of greatest interest to them and their followers – Ruth Legh-Smith

8.10 Discuss and decide on issues for research action

8.25 Agree time and location of Delegates Assembly in Feb/March

8.30 Close & networking

(8.35-45 Shared evaluation)

Clothing: There is no need for women visitors to wear a head scarf.

Covid: For your own and others’ safety, you may wear a face covering.

Details about Fishermead Citizens project.

Mayor presents laptops to Fishermead school and community centre

At a celebration breakfast organised by Citizens:mk and hosted by Fishermead Trinity Community Centre, MK Mayor Mohammed Khan presented community leaders with 35 laptops. 

The devices were donated by Circular Computing, through Veritas Digital Services Ltd.’s Laptops4learning scheme www.laptops4learning.co.uk which tackles digital inequality by the repair and reuse of surplus technology. 

30 devices will be used by pupils of Jubilee Wood Primary School and 5 will be used to start an internet café at Trinity Centre.

This initiative follows a listening campaign involving 61 residents.  41% had trouble accessing the internet and 59% said they would use the internet cafe.

A survey of school pupils showed 114 pupils can’t access devices at home for school work.  “What we have received through this initiative will make a huge difference to them,” said head teacher Matt O’Brien. “It’s good to work alongside others who take pride in the community and want to make it as good as possible for our children.”

28 children from Willows First School, led by head teacher Jo Orbell, sang ‘Together in Electric Dreams’ to great applause.

Local resident Ophelia Cole, Chair of Trinity Centre Management Committee, who has been trained by Citizens:mk, said: I strongly believe in working with institutions who contribute towards developing residents and changing the negative press about Fishermead. I hope this centre will one day become the hub where all residents meet to support and encourage each other, where those who are strong give a helping hand to those who are struggling.”

Mayor with representatives of Veritas Digital (Sue Gowling second from right) and Fishermead community leaders (Ophelia Cole (fifth from right)

The event was also attended by Debbie Gockelen, Assistant Principal of MK Academy secondary school, who said: “Our work with the community through Citizens:mk has encouraged active citizenship and empowered our students to make a difference in their communities. It’s good to be here and see other schools getting together to support digital inclusion.”

Sue Gowling, Founder of Veritas Digital Services, said: “We set up Laptops4learning back at the start of the pandemic to get sustainable, affordable tech and donations out to those in need.  We are delighted to be able to help the Fishermead community and look forward to extending our work with Citizens:MK and Citizens UK”.

Rev Ian Herbert, a Trinity Centre trustee, said: “We need to reach out to residents who are digitally excluded.  Working together with schools, faith and other community groups, we can.”

This initiative is part of a project funded by MK Community Foundation to build an alliance of Fishermead community groups to take action together, in partnership with Campbell Park Parish Council, to improve their community. If you would like your community group to be involved, contact Community Organiser Tom Bulman, tel 07962 838685.

(Pictured above: Cllr Mohammed Khan, Mayor of Milton Keynes, presenting 5 laptops and a partnership certificate to Heinz Elbers, Trinity Centre trustee.)

Delegates Assembly agrees campaign Goals

On 23rd March, Thames Valley Citizens held its annual Delegates Assembly online. This followed deeper research by campaign teams formed at Leaders Forum on 10th November. 45 leaders from developing citizens alliances in Oxford and Reading, and 12 Citizens MK member institutions, gave consent for five campaign action teams to present to the Police & Crime Commissioner and Leader of MK Council on 29th April.

CampaignTarget Ask Action Team
Action on Climate Change Police & Crime Commissioner; Leader of MK Council Police to be carbon-neutral by 2030, Council to discuss carbon fee and dividendCornerstone (Rick), MK Green Alliance (Rob, Kirsty, Michael), St. Pauls (Craig), MK Quakers (?), Southwood (?)
Young People & PolicePolice & Crime Commissioner Police to set up youth panel, school police day, pilot police lunches in four primary schools (£10k)MK Academy (Molly), St. Pauls (Annie), Southwood (Kate)
Burial & Death Registration Leader of MK Council Council to provide deaths registration 7dpw and burial facilities in accordance with religious beliefs by Aug 2021MK Deanery (Linda), TGTR (Linda M), MKMA (Hamid & Salim), Reading (Shaheen & Mustafa), Council of Faiths (Arif), OU (Satheesh)
Misogyny as Hate CrimePolice & Crime Commissioner PCC to include intersectional recording of hate crime in quarterly report.Cornerstone (Maggie), MK Academy (Rue & Raphael), OU (Janice & Jane), Q:alliance (Tracie Farrell), TGTR (Alifa & Kurshida), St. Pauls (Elysia)
Digital Inclusion Leader of MK Council Explore cost/benefit and funding of free wifi in Fishermead and Lakes EstateCornerstone (Stuart), MK Deanery (Tim), Reading (Judith), BRC (Scott Pilekas)

24 leaders participated in presentations, some for the first time.

Pledges were made for turnout of 143 at Accountability Assembly 29th April (details below).

In a short evaluation immediately after the Assembly, 20 leaders scored the event 8.5 out of 10. Points lost as process of Institutions reporting their commitments to action teams and assembly turnout could have been clearer.

Recording of the Delegates Assembly (passcode: ^*@nQr04).

Register here to attend Accountability Assembly 29th April.

Turnout pledges for Accountability Assembly (turnout tips):

Oxford developing citizens alliance
Reading developing citizens alliance30
Church of Christ the Cornerstone10
MK Academy10
MK Council of Faiths5
MK Deanery10
MK Green Alliance3
MK Muslim Association20
MK Quaker Meeting10
Open University10
Southwood Primary School10
St. Frideswide’s Church10
St. Paul’s Catholic School10
Truby’s Garden Tea Room5
143

Leaders – get on your bike for ‘Ride It Out’ on Monday 1st March

Please help us show others that cycling is healthy and fun – a good thing for us all to do as we come to the end of Covid lockdown.

Ride a bike on Monday 1st March to help launch MK Council’s Ride It Out challenge, take a photo and say what was good about it for you:

  • either on Twitter @citizensMK @mkcouncil @lovetoride_ @GetSmarterMK #RideItOutTogether
  • or in an email to tom.bulman@citizensuk.org for our website.

This is not about pretending you’re a regular or committed cyclist (if you aren’t one), just that you think it’s a good thing to do at least sometimes.

See leaders participating.

See gallery of riders participating so far.

CAN CITIZENS:MK MEMBERS CYCLE MORE THAN ANY OTHER MK ORGANISATION?

To encourage members of your organisation to participate in Ride It Out in the month of March, please do the following:

That way we can see and celebrate their cycling as individuals, as members of your workplace, and as members and partners of Citizens:mk.

If you have any questions, please contact:

For information about all MK Council’s cycle activities, go to www.getcyclingmk.org.

Weaving Trust – listening for issues in BAME access to health services

20 leaders from 12 MK institutions participated in an online Weaving Trust event focused on the equality of access to MK health services experienced by people from Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities.

The event provided an opportunity to hear testimonies and share experiences – through a carousel of short one-to-one discussions – with various MK health providers. It was hoped this would lead to new opportunities for understanding, collaboration and perhaps action to improve the way things are. 

After an introduction from Chair Kurhshida Mirza, testimonies were heard from:

  • Jabeer Butt, CEO, Race Equality Foundation – national perspective on evidence of health inequalities (read testimony)
  • Dr Aysha Ziauddin – a GP living in MK and working in Northampton – sharing her thoughts on the issues for BAME communities (hear testimony)
  • Mrs Humaira Hasan – a local MK resident – why equal access to health is important to her as a citizen (hear testimony)

Then there were six rounds of 7-minute one-to-one conversations.

At the end of the event, a small team agreed to meet in two weeks to prioritise issues, taking note of comments written in Zoom Chat, and work to set a direction for action to bring about change (read written comments).

Humaira Hasan of Truby’s Garden Tea Room wrote: “It was nice to be able to speak to others whom I wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to interact with. Also nice to have a platform where I can speak freely!”

AGM launches Listening Campaign 2020

17 leaders from 9 member institutions attended the Annual General Meeting on Tuesday 15th September 2020.

Reflections on 2019-20 and what’s needed for more powerful 2020-21

Budget 2020-21

Leadership Group appointed for 2020-21. Welcome Choe, Emma and Harvind from MK Academy. Farewell and thanks to Sheila Bacon.

Leaders asked to attend Unconscious Bias training on Tuesday 29th Sept, 6-7pm, on Zoom

Listening campaign launched: agreed all leaders to have 5 one-to-one conversations in next 8 weeks, ready for Leaders Forum 10th November:

  1. Choose 5 people who interest you and/or are angry about a social injustice
  2. Ask each person these 4 questions (printable version here)
  3. Find other ‘leaders’ who can organise their own 5 one-to-one conversations
  4. Gather information from all your institution’s one-to-one conversations using this summary form. In the score box, please average scores (0-5) from the individual listening forms.

Reflection on organising leaders – ‘snowflake’ model of leadership

Leaders invited to attend Training to Organise Listening Campaign on Saturday 3rd Oct, 9.30am-12pm, on Zoom.

In post-event evaluation, participants gave the action a score of 8 out of 10.

Pledges received for Listening Campaign 2020 (some added afterwards):

NAME OF INSTITUTIONPLEDGED NO. 121sPLEDGED BY
Church of Christ the Cornerstone30 (33)Fidele Mutwarisibo
Congolese Community  
Jubilee Wood Primary School  
MK Academy15Harvind Gill
MK Council of Faiths  
MK Deanery25Tim Norwood
MK Green Alliance 5 Kirsty Forshaw
MK Muslim Association  
MK Quaker Meeting  
Open University20Jane Whild
Orchard Academy  
Q:alliance  
Southwood Primary School  
St. Augustine’s RC Church  
St. Frideswide’s Church30Catherine Butt
St. Paul’s Catholic School  
Stantonbury Ecumenical Partnership  
Truby’s Garden Tea Room  
  

Early in the session, participants observed a 121 between the Co-Chairs and made the following comments:

  • I liked the image of the cheese and celery sandwich over which Jane’s feminism was inspired by her Nanna Gertie!
  • I think it makes a difference whether you know the person well or whether it is your first meeting.  Fidele said that you need to find a hook .
  • inspired by the input Nanna Gertie on Jane
  • The mention of her nanna was powerful because it stared up memories and gave them a shared story…
  • talking properly with someone I wouldn’t normally meet.
  • I really liked the honesty and hearing how someone had influenced Jane’s life.  I think we all have one or more people like that.  It’s good to remember them.
  • We liked the idea of connecting with people’s anger, and using that to light fires in people.  Also digging deeper with asking the question of where that anger comes from.
  • Interesting to hear the campaigns that others are a part of, as well as hearing their stories and the work they’ve done, as well as having a more personal touch.
  • I agree with Sheila s point about prior knowledge of the person.
  • Great way of learning more about what motivates people (especially through our personal stories) and that connects us to them in future.
  • Interesting chat on the difference between leading a campaign and being co-chair! We still need the anger though!
  • It was great that the questions encouraged personal stories as this helps people build connections between people even if they hadn’t know each other prior (also loved Jane’s story

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.

Read Assembly Evaluation.

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.