Category Archives: Testimonial

Nikki’s experience of 18.10.17 action

I loved the Fight Against Hate action day that I attended and found it a hugely motivational and positive event. It was great that the children were so involved too, not only when singing the song, but when they had the opportunity to question and listen to others and share their own experiences of hate.

It was particularly beneficial for them to hear from other people’s experiences as this helps them to understand that words and actions have consequences but also that they are not alone if they have experienced hate directed at them.

Following on from my Leadership Training with Citizens MK, the importance of reaching significant power holders was demonstrated at the action day when pledges were made by people in power to support the anti hate campaign. This also showed the children how powerful we can all be in making a change and working together.

When writing the Love is Stronger Than Hate song, I really wanted it to highlight that differences are not reasons to divide and that all our friends are different from us but fundamentally we all want and need the same things. We are responsible for our feelings and actions and, by working together, we are powerful enough to make changes without pointing blame at others. When we are young, many of our thoughts are shaped by others’ opinions so it is important for children to question things and really recognise that hate is due to lack of understanding and isn’t based in fact.

The children love singing and I love writing songs and lyrics to teach them about their world and what a positive impact they can have.

Listen to ‘Love is stronger than hate’.

Josephine Osei – Citizens:mk Youth Leader of 2016-17

After a year leading the Redways Relaunch campaign, 18-year-old Josephine Osei of MK Academy has been awarded Citizens:mk’s Young Leader of the Year Award.  This is a new award recognising the extraordinary talents of MK’s most able youth leaders.

“Before I started the Citizens:mk program, I was just like any other teenager who had something that they were angry about but did not have any power or motivation to create a change,” said Josephine.  “Then I attended a one day training and realised that actually I could have the power to make a real change in my community.”

In its first year, the Redways Relaunch campaign has had remarkable success.  First, a student-led survey of more than 2,000 students in five MK schools showed that, while 80% used the Redways (pedestrian and cycle paths) only 40% felt safe on them.  Most thought that three things could be done to make a difference:  improving lighting, cutting back bushes and reducing litter.

“Young people like the Redways, but want them to be brighter, safer and cleaner,” said Josephine.  “Through this Citizens program I have learnt to be a leader, one who knows what is right and does it by collaborating with people in power.  Through this journey, I have seen my actions inspiring other people and this has been very fulfilling for me.

“One thing that I have been able to overcome is my fear of speaking in an open crowd.  It has actually made me feel unstoppable.  Now, if I want to do something, I feel empowered to do it because my self confidence has increased greatly.”

In her role as campaign leader, Josephine addressed  various audiences including 70 business people gathered at MK’s City Breakfast Club at thestadium:mk.

“Josephine has increased her confidence and developed her leadership skills to such an extent she can now communicate with all elements of the community,” said MK Academy teacher Debbie Gockelen, “sometimes leading adults much older than herself.”

“I would personally recommend this role to each and every student who knows that they also want to be a part of a change,” said Josephine.

Pictured above, Josephine speaks directly to the Leader of the Council in front of 400 school pupils outside Marks & Spencer in the city centre.  On behalf of the pupils in five schools she asked for, and won, a pledge in MK’s 50th birthday year to make 50 improvements to the Redways.

Ayser Al Jawad, Middle Eastern Cultural Group

What is your proudest Citizens moment?

Witnessing  important issues, being presented by normal people (citizens) working together toward a common goal and achieving it.  I observed stake holders including the city councillors from all different political parties and MPs agree to the people’s requests for accepting more refugees, to sign up to Living Wage and more.  The most recent proud moment was being part of the team that planned the Great Get Together Iftaar on 16th June.

What’s the impact of membership been on you and your institution? 

This year, our community took part in various events and actions.   We developed strong links and relationships, both personal and as an organisation., friendships with people from all walks of life and from many local and national organisations.   We achieved exposure for our work and goals, and found common ground, values, aims and passions, shared with many in our wider MK community.

What are you most looking forward to over the next 12 months?

I am looking forward to the next task;  planning and organising a Fight Against Hate summit during national Hate Crime Awareness Week which will be mid-October.  We will be supporting Citizens:mk’s Fight Against Hate campaign team.   As a community we are looking forward to achieving more, grabbing opportunities, developing and making greater impact in our society under the Citizens:mk umbrella.

What’s it like, Penny?

Penny Souster from St. Augustine’s RC Church spoke at our Delegates Assembly and Accountability Assembly in 2015.  Afterwards she said:

“My experience of speaking at the Assembly  was filled with a mixture of emotions.  I had witnessed many negative aspects of working in a care home in MK and speaking about them to a wide and varied audience was both relieving and revealing to them, I hope, and widened their scope about the kind of care they would plan for both their elderly loved ones and themselves in the future.

“The audience was very receptive to my disclosures and I was emotionally moved by their acknowledgement, affirmation and applause.

“Since then changes for the better in living wages for care workers and others are being implemented by the government which makes my very small part in bringing it about worthwhile.”