Three of our churches/partnerships are Member Institutions of Citizens:MK, a diverse alliance of community organisations acting together for a thriving, inclusive and fairer Milton Keynes. On 16 March, Citizens:MK partnered with the YMCA Milton Keynes for a day of action to promote awareness and support for the new strategy of MK Homelessness Partnership and MK Council in addressing homelessness in MK. The aims of the Day were to:
1.Educate MK residents (including children) about homelessness and what city organisations such as MK Council, voluntary organisations and businesses are doing about it;
2.Celebrate the achievement of MK Homelessness Partnership (MKHP) producing its first ‘Strategic Review December 2017’, and MK Council approving a new ‘Rough Sleeping Reduction Strategy’ to reduce the number of people sleeping rough to zero by 2021; and
3.Collaborate in building power to support MK Council and MK Homelessness Partnership in achieving their goals.
First, at lunch time, pupils from three local primary schools enjoyed a facilitated Q&A session with four people who have experienced rough sleeping.
At 7.30pm, guests had an opportunity to quiz those in positions of leadership in addressing homelessness: Cllr Peter Marland, Leader of the Council; Gamiel Yafai, Chair of MK Homelessness Partnership; Simon Green, CEO of YMCA MK; Lawrence Morgan and Suzanna Raymond of the Citizens:MK’s ‘House the Homeless’ campaign. Guests asked questions about the recommendations in the Strategic Review and their personal experiences of developing and delivering them.
At 9.00pm, 55 guests attended a ‘House the Homeless Assembly’ at which Gamiel Yafai received a Citizens:MK Gold Award for MK Homelessness Partnership for developing a strategy with the goal of ending homelessness in MK. Our 3 church Member Institutions (Christ the Cornerstone; St Frideswide’s and Stantonbury & Willen Ecumenical Partnership) sent members to support this community action.
Towards the end of the Assembly, a film was shown of Summerfield School Choir singing a song about homelessness, ‘We Will Fix You’. It was a really moving rendition, and there was much blowing into tissues at the end of it.
After the Assembly, Ian Roberts and band played live music to entertain ‘Sleep Easy’ volunteers as they prepared to bed down in the cold to raise money for the YMCA. Although the temperature didn’t get below freezing until 6.00am, the one-night volunteer ‘rough sleepers’ felt the chill and discomfort of sleeping rough in winter.
Truby’s Garden Tea Room, sponsored by Meals by Malik (a local Muslim Woman caterer) and the owner of a small Muslim led printing company Good Response, provided meals for those sleeping out and refreshments for those attending the Assembly.