50 MK organisations create Weaving Trust 50 – 28.1.17

On Saturday 28th January 2-4pm, 90 individuals from 50 MK organisations took part in the ‘Weaving Trust 50’ event to celebrate MK’s 50th birthday.

Following short testimonies from individuals of different faiths, talking about their experiences living in Milton Keynes, participants had seven conversations about their own experiences in a carousel of six-minute conversations with people they didn’t know.

“It is so important to talk to new people,” wrote one participant at the end.  “We are often so busy in our own world, jobs that it takes someone to set up an opportunity for us to be able to have the time and space to meet other people from all walks of life in MK. It can only serve to bring communities together.”

Another participant wrote:  “It’s really opened up my eyes to the diversity of people, faiths and groups in Milton Keynes and how many community and charitable organisations there are which are dedicated to the social cohesion and celebration of them. Perhaps this is what makes MK so different. We’re not just roundabouts and concrete cows after all!”

“It was lovely to talk to so many interesting and MK committed people,” said Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher, Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire.

“The feedback has been wonderful,” said Alan Bainbridge, of MK Quaker Meeting, who chairs the Weaving Trust campaign team and facilitated the event.  “It was marvellous to stand on the podium and gaze down to see 90 people engaged with each other and so obviously enjoying the experience, and clearly getting a lot out of it.”

 

Weaving Trust at HMP Woodhill – 6.12.16

Alan Bainbridge, Chair of the Weaving Trust action team, writes:

We met seven prisoners and Alan Hodgetts, the managing chaplain acting as a host. I  introduced the session by saying that Weaving Trust is simply about meeting people we otherwise wouldn’t and through personal contact getting a fuller appreciation of each other’s lives. This may not immediately create trust, but without contact and conversation trust is impossible.

I was initially a bit apprehensive about meeting prisoners, some of whom were serving long sentences, but by the end of the session I was no longer apprehensive and I think that sums up the event. I learned a lot about prison life and found the prisoners to be reflective and insightful.

One interesting observation that came out strongly was that the prisoners wanted there to be more prison officers on duty. This reflects and supports the recent strong representations made by prison officers themselves that they are too few in number. The prisoners were generally respectful of the prison officers and recognised that they make the environment safer and enable prisoners to have more freedom within the prison, rather than being locked in their cells or ”behind the door” as they called it. I learned that prison life is tough, but not as tough, or cruel, as it is sometimes represented on television or in the press. The major difficulty was boredom, and the prisoners themselves seemed to greatly appreciate the opportunity to meet people from beyond the wall.

I came away from the event strangely conflicted because the people I met seemed remarkably ordinary, and yet they were prisoners and, as they all acknowledged, were there because they had done something wrong. In Weaving Trust we don’t expect any outcome, other than greater understanding, and I think I will reflect on this experience for some time. I wish all the people I met well.

Leaders Forum bursting with issues and ideas – 22.11.16

On Tuesday 22nd November, MK Academy hosted our annual Leaders Forum.  This is where leaders from member institutions share their findings from listening campaigns  and seek partners to research those issues and craft SMART campaign goals.

The room was bursting with 57 people representing 20 member institutions.

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And there was no shortage of stories about issues affecting our communities.

“We heard about a lot of very serious issues, perhaps too many to ultimately take forward,” said Tom Robbins of Q:alliance.  “There was a lot of energy and a sense of being the right people, in the right place, at the right time to address them.”

Six research teams were created, each with a leader and representatives of at least three member institutions, to find out more about the following issues (leaders in brackets):

  • Air pollution (Michael Sheppard, Transition MK)
  • Hate (Fidele Mutwarasibo and Anthony Okotcha, Church of Christ the Cornerstone)
  • Homelessness and housing (Chloe Markevics, YMCA, and Anna Kearns, St. Mary Magdalene’s Catholic Church)
  • Mental health (James Cartman, Q:alliance and Imogene Okotcha, Church of Christ the Cornerstone)
  • One-stop cultural centre (Liz Kasibo, Global Outreach Foundation)
  • Redways (Josephine Osei, MK Academy).

Any proposals for new campaigns must gain the consent of our members’ alliance at Delegates Assembly on 7th February, when current campaigns may also be proposed further work in the year ahead.  We can proceed only with campaigns which have SMART goals and which we have sufficient support.

To support research teams, a training event will be held at MK Academy on Tuesday 6th December, 5.30-8pm.  We strongly recommend that all members of research teams attend this session.   Click here to book places.

Standing Room Only To Welcome Refugees – 14.11.16

On Monday 14th November, more than 150 MK citizens packed into the Guildhall at the city centre church yesterday evening to formally welcome five Syrian refugee families who have arrived in MK this year.

Following a negotiation immediately before with the leaders of three main political parties at MK Council offices, Council Leader Peter Marland said:  “The Council is committed to increasing the number of refugee families welcomed to 50 if the Refugees Welcome campaign group will continue to help us find new private accommodation.  The more you can help, the more we will take.  MK will never turn its back on refugees.”

Campaign leader David Wolfson thanked MK Council for taking a lead on welcoming refugees:  “Again and again we are hearing from around the country that we are doing this well in MK…but there is more to do.”

One member of the campaign group, Marie Gracie, said:  “Council officer Jeremy Beake has been a star, supporting refugees in so many ways.  We’re very committed to helping him develop relationships with local landlords.”

One of the refugees, Assad, spoke through a translator of his thanks for all MK Council and the British Red Cross have done to welcome his family.  “I feel lucky to have been born again twice…first when I found my children alive in the rubble, and again when we arrived in MK.”

“MK is my new country,” said another.

Click here for longer article.

MK Businesses Celebrate Real Living Wage Progress – 3.11.16

On Thursday 3rd November, lawyers Dentons hosted a Living Wage Business Breakfast for MK’s accredited Living Wage employers and others at their offices on Midsummer Boulevard.  Business, faith and civic leaders celebrated the benefits of paying the real Living Wage, whose new hourly rate is £8.45 per hour outside London.

This is the amount of pay per hour which is independently calculated to be enough for workers and their families to live on.  It is higher than the government’s national minimum rate.

The audience of 45 heard the latest statistical analysis from KPMG showing the staff recruitment, productivity and retention benefits of being a real Living Wage employer.

Employers also celebrated MK’s Living Wage campaign achieving two-thirds of its goal of 50 accredited employers in MK by the end of 2017, MK’s 50th birthday. See short film about the ’50’ campaign.

Ian Revell, Chief Executive of MK Community Foundation, said: “”Our Vital Signs 2016 report shows that, whilst the local economy continues to grow there are many workers left behind that are struggling to make ends meet and where wages have not kept pace with the cost of living locally.”

Cllr Peter Marland, Leader of MK Council, said: “It’s only right that every worker gets a decent day’s pay for a decent day’s work.  MK should become the first Living Wage city.”

Tony Berwick, Head teacher of Jubilee Wood Primary School, said:  “Our greatest ambassadors are our children and staff.  Morally, paying the Living Wage is the right thing to do, but it also makes business sense, makes my staff feel good about their work.”

Nick Peacock of Ascendant Recruitment, an MK company newly considering becoming a Living Wage employer, said:  “Our net profitability would increase.”

Lucian Hudson, Director of Communications at The Open University and Chair of Citizens:mk, said:  “It is exciting for Citizens:mk to be working with some of MK’s most successful businesses.  I hope we can develop these partnerships to address other social issues so that MK’s impressive prosperity is increasingly shared by all its people.”

Next November, the campaign expects to be celebrating 50 Living Wage accredited employers in MK’s 50th birthday, a remarkable achievement accomplished by a remarkable partnership of MK’s civil society and business communities.

Leaders Complete Two-Day Training – 24.9.16

On Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th September, 19 leaders from 10 member institutions completed a two-day course on the Craft of Community Leadership hosted by MK Quaker Centre.

The aim was to prepare a group of diverse leaders to develop skills and knowledge to use in community organising, especially to co-ordinate listening campaigns within their own institutions and report the issues back to Leaders Forum on 22nd November.

“It gave me a self-critical tool to see my strengths and weaknesses as a leader,” said Fr Bernard Barrett of St. Francis de Sales & St. Mary Magdalene’s Catholic Church.  “It gave me a clear pathway for both finding and forming people as leaders in my community for mission and community development.”

“The Two-Day Training has given me more understanding about what being a leader means,” said Elizabeth Kasibo of Global Outreach  Foundation, “and also opened my eyes to the other passions and needs that are being focused on within MK.”

“I felt well supported throughout the course,” said Chloe Markevics of MK YMCA.

“The course has helped me to be determined to actually reach my goals,” said Kate Abrahams of Church of Christ the Cornerstone.  “I feel that what I thought would not be possible now might very well be possible.”

The training included a new Annual Hearing of short testimonies of current  issues of social concern in MK, such as homelessness, hate crime and the impact of ‘Brexit’ on MK employees from Europe.

It is expected that both the Two-Day Training and the Annual Hearing will be expanded next year.

Weaving Trust at MK Synagogue – 18.9.16

On Sunday 18th September, 20 guests from Citizens:mk were hosted by 10 members of MK & District Reform Synagogue in Giffard Park.

After a warm welcome from Henry Fried, Chair of the Synagogue (pictured below), and some delicious cakes and tea, the series of six-minute conversations began.

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At the end of the event, several people commented positively about the event, which the evaluation group awarded a score of 10 out of 10.

“Just hearing of others’ experiences was an eye opener,” said Marion, who has been worshiping at the synagogue for 38 years.

“The door was opened, I was welcomed and I feel enlightened,” said Debbie Wilson, a guest from MK Quakers.

“This was my first visit to the Synagogue,” said Ayesha Peeran of MK Muslim Association.  “It was so interesting to find out how you conduct services here.”

“My life and faith is put into perspective by a group like this,” said Kate Abrahams of Church of Christ the Cornerstone.

“I realised you can sit with anyone and feel you can have a cup of coffee with them,” said James Cartman of Q:alliance.

“I really appreciated the open-mindedness of all the guests to Judaism, ” said Andy Gilbert of the Synagogue.

“Weaving Trust is about opening new doors of unexpected understanding,” said Carol Barac of Transition MK.

The event ended with Chair Henry Friel offering to host a similar Weaving Trust event next year.

Weaving Trust with MK Quakers – 10.9.16

On Saturday 10th September, 26 people participated in a Weaving Trust event hosted by MK Quaker Meeting.

“I am purring with delight,” said Eva Barton of MK Quakers, immediately after the event.

“It’s a great way to get to k now people in 3-D,” said Don Rowe, also of MK Quakers.

“I feel I’ve grown a lot today,” said Kurshida Mirza, visiting from MK Muslim Association.  “I’ve learned a lot about the Quakers and found we have so much in common.”

“It’s a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon,” said Azra Peeran, also of MKMA, “better than anything I expected.”

Parishes can benefit from community-owned energy – 15.8.16

Community Action: MK is inviting members of Parish Councils in Milton Keynes to a special event being organised during the national Community Energy Fortnight taking place between 3rd-18th September.

The event will take place at the Imovation Centre at Transport Systems Catapult (170 Midsummer Boulevard) between 5-7pm on Tuesday 13th September.

This short and practical session will provide useful information about the role that your parish council could play in promoting community ownership of energy. We will be using case studies of successful MK-based projects, such as Wolverton Community Energy, to illustrate how this model can act as a vehicle for community cohesion, at the same time as raising income for community investment in your area. In particular, we will be exploring:

  • Planning for sustainability and resilience – how you can include community energy outcomes in your Neighbourhood Plan, Parish/Business Plan or other strategic documents
  • Ways of improving efficiency of local buildings
  • Community ownership model – challenges and benefits
  • CAPE, Community Action Platform for Energy – new project in Milton Keynes

There will be an opportunity to network with representatives of other parish councils from across MK Borough and to find out about the exciting new MK Community Energy Alliance, and how your parish could become a part of it.

If you would like to represent your parish council at the event, please RSVP to anna@communityactionmk.org.

The event is being organised in collaboration between CAPE, Community Action Platform for Energy (one of Community Action: MK’s projects) and Wolverton Community Energy.

Thank you to Transport Systems Catapult for providing the venue. 

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You can see this and other events listed on the official Community Energy Fortnight 2016 website and follow updates on Twitter through #CEF16: