Making a Bigger Difference with Thames Valley

Citizens from across the Thames Valley area will be gathering on the 11th June. This assembly will not happen at the Church of Christ the Cornerstone – as originally planned – but online using Zoom.

This will be a significant event, marking the launch of Thames Valley Citizens – which will link community alliances in Milton Keynes, Oxford and Reading. 

This is a high priority for Milton Keynes Deanery, and is supported by the Diocese of Oxford, as part of the “Making a Bigger Difference” priority.  The Bishop of Oxford will be speaking, and the agenda will reflect issues that have been agreed by local people.

The aims are to:

  1. Bring key leaders from MK, Reading and Oxford together to take action together as part of Thames Valley Citizens;
  2. Enable civil society institutions across the Thames Valley to reflect together on the challenges they face because of Covid-19, encourage solidarity, and begin to envision what a more just post-Covid Thames Valley could look like;
  3. Celebrate the contribution made by local government, NHS, police and emergency services, listen to the Covid-related challenges they face now and in the future, offer the support of civil society, and seek their support to make the Thames Valley a more just place post-Covid.

We need to get as many people to come to the event as possible, because “turnout” demonstrates our interest.  Three of our parishes are members of Citizens MK in their own right, but we have committed to bring a further forty from the rest of the Deanery.  Please register here if you want a Deanery ticket.

11th June 2020 from 6:30 to 8:30pm

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Meet the Candidates

There will be a General Election on December 12th.  As Christians we are called to play our part as members of society.  For some, this means standing for election, but all of us have an opportunity to engage positively and vote.  We are therefore organising an Assembly with our partners in Citizens MK.  This will be an opportunity for us to talk about the issues that our members are most concerned about, to listen to what the candidates have to say, and to ask questions.

It’s really important that we get as many people there as possible, so that we can show how much we care.  The issues that our members will raise will be:

  • Mental Health – the top priority identified by MK Deanery
  • Climate Change – a Diocesan priority and a big concern for local schools
  • Refugees – which has been a big priority for us as churches since 2015
  • Hate Crime – which is a big issue in our diverse city
  • Fair Work – which is about the way people are treated by employers

If you want to know more and book a ticket, please see Eventbrite

This is an important opportunity to speak to people who may have the power to make a difference.  We want to have a positive relationship with the MPs in Milton Keynes – whatever party they may belong to.  This will be a way to build that relationship so that we can work together with them for a better MK!

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Making a difference nationally

The Citizens UK Council meeting on Thursday was very productive, in spite of the snow! We had a record turnout of leaders with all eleven chapters represented in some way. It was a challenging meeting (starting late, finishing early and a delayed lunch) but everyone was disciplined and we got through the agenda (mostly).

Tim was chairing the meeting (which was fun!)

From the MK perspective there are a couple of things to note:

a) Voting Age Campaign: We approved a campaign around lowering the voting age to 16. Some of our Secondary schools will be keen to get involved in this.

b) National Organising: We had presentations from the five National Organising teams: Fair Deal, Welcome not Hate, Refugees and Migrants, Mental Health, and Housing and Homelessness. There will be paper reports from the teams in the next two weeks and local chapters (like CitizensMK) will be asked to look at them. On June 29th there will be a national assembly at which we will be asked to vote to approve the national campaigns. We will also have a public action on one of the campaigns – probably refugees and migrants, since Council voted this as the top priority for this occasion.

c) Refugees and Migrants: The Refugees and Migrants campaign will probably be the focus of the June 29th action. Although Refugees Welcome is not a core campaign for Citizens MK this year, we did set up Refugees Welcome MK (which is now a CIO in its own right). Key themes are likely to be: 1) maintaining the levels of refugees welcome under VPRS and Community Sponsorship, 2) Cutting the costs of citizenship for children to cost price, c) ensuring that ESOL provision is available at local level.

It’s great to be involved in big national issues like these, and MK people are very involved!

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Delegates Assembly launches new campaigns

The 2018 Delegates Assembly of Citizens MK has agreed to support four campaigns for 2018. These are: Mental Health, Fight Against Hate, Housing and Homelessness, and Young People’s Voices.

Cornerstone Church was particularly well represented, with Fidele Mutwarasibo, taking the lead on Hate Crime, and Tess Price convening the Mental Health group.

Tim Norwood spoke as part of the Housing and Homelessness presentation, helping to launch a new campaign around Community Land Trusts, which could make housing available at a cost linked to local income.

It was an energetic and passionate evening for Citizens MK. New leaders stepped forward and took on new roles.  Member institutions made commitments to attend two assemblies: the sleepeasy with YMCA on the 16th March, and the Accountability Assembly in April.

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Love not Hate

The Church of Christ the Cornerstone hosted a very exciting day as part of the Fight Against Hate campaign. There were moving testimonies from people who had been personally affected by hate crime or predjudice, and commitments from the police, the council, Ariva Buses and Citizens MK members.

Tim interviewed the winner of the poster competition, and Summerfield School sang their latest song – “Love is Stronger than Hate”.

John Robertson spoke on behalf of the Bishop of Oxford, who launched the poster competition in March. The day finished with a session with CUK leaders from across the country who joined us for a mini Weaving Trust event and a discussion about local and national follow-up.

The general feeling was that it had been a useful day, but there was much still to do…

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