You are Welcome!
Thursday June 20th: To celebrate World Refugee Day meet us at 6pm at the MK Rose in Campbell Park for a short ‘gathering’. Deputy Mayor Andrew Geary to attend.
6.30pm onwards at MK Gallery event space (short, accessible walk from the Rose) for informal celebration, conversation, nibbles and soft drinks.
Come to both or either.
The Deanery Leadership Team (DLT) consists of the eight Deanery officers, who meet regularly to plan activity and share leadership.
The Diocese is working on a Common Vision which includes seven big strands of work. One of these is to “Celebrate and Bless Milton Keynes” – on the basis that it is the fastest growing city in the four counties. A working group was formed by the Archdeacon – and consisted of people from MK and elsewhere.
In July the working group (known as WG6) presented some initial thoughts to Bishop’s Council. These were warmly received, with a specific encouragement to develop a funding bid. Bishop’s Council also encouraged the Working Group to involve more lay people and ecumenical partners.
The report can be found on the Celebrate and Bless page on our web site.
The big themes of the report were the rapid changes that are taking place in Milton Keynes with further expansion, the Oxford Cambridge Arc and deepening poverty. The report also argues that Milton Keynes is under-resourced for mission.
The working Group made a number of key proposals, including:
- An Archdeacon of Milton Keynes with a focus on the Oxford-MK-Cambridge Arc
- A Learning Centre for Pioneer Ministry, Community Organising and Mission
- At least three “resource” churches that are planting and supporting new worshipping communities
- The provision of new missional posts equivalent to eight full-time ministers (or more)
- Partnerships for the Common Good
- Involvement in Milton Keynes University
Many of these will need to be explored further by the Diocese or the Deanery. Some of them will require external funding, so there will be more work to do.
We have set up a Steering Group and three new working groups to
develop detailed plans and proposals…
The three new working groups will be:
Learning:To create a unique learning environment to equip the church of the future in mission – and draw up plans for how that learning environment will be created. John Robertson is chairing this group with the help of Keith Straughan and Alison Drury.
Growing: To draw up plans for a programme which will enable us to a) plant or grow new and sustainable Christian communities in Milton Keynes, and b) build up existing churches so that they can plant and support new Christian communities in Milton Keynes. These plans will need to include criteria for determining which projects to invest in and how they will be assessed. Paul Oxley will be chairing this group with the help of Ruth Maxey and David McDougall.
Funding:To coordinate the creation of a bid for Strategic Development Fund (or other) investment. This will require input and involvement from the other three working groups. Steve Snook will be chairing this group with the help of Kevin Lovell.
It’s going to be a long-term project, so don’t expect to see anything happen quickly. We hope to have a developed plan by summer 2019!! In the meantime there will be lots of opportunities for consultation and conversation. Please take advantage of these opportunities when they come!
We were visited by Alan Cruickshank, the Senior Strategy Consultant for the Church of England. He wanted to see what was going on in Milton Keynes, and how the national church can help.
He picked up a conker from outside Christ the Vine Church. He said it was going to sit on his desk at Church House Westminster as a reminder to pray for the Church in MK – which can often be small and toughened by difficult circumstances – but its waiting to burst forth into new life. I hope you will keep praying for the growth of the Church in MK over the coming year!
I hope you had a good summer – it does feel a long time ago now!! One of the highlights of my summer was the Greenbelt Festival near Kettering. I lead a team from Citizens UK to promote the work of Citizens across the country and talk about community organising. The best moment was seeing a woman from London hear the news that her group was going to receive its first family of Syrian refugees. It’s great to see words become action!
On a related theme, I had planned to step down as chair of Refugees Welcome following the vote at Deanery Synod. I hope you don’t mind, but it seems a bit early to step back from this work. We have now received sixteen families into Milton Keynes, but the journey toward integration is much slower than we’d hoped – and there are opportunities to do more, if we are willing to seize them!
There is work moving ahead as a result of our Deanery Synod priorities. We plan to focus on one of them at each Synod meeting. The November meeting will look at Mental Health.
Every two years, there is a national conference for Anglican Deaneries. I’m on the steering group for the National Deaneries Network, so was heavily involved in organising the event.
We are not doing a major Christmas campaign this year, but will be encouraging churches to make use of the resources produced by the Church of England. This reflects the change in priorities that came from Deanery Synod and the advertising strategy emerging from DMPC.
As always, there is so much else we could talk about:
- Sanctuary Training
- LEP Constitutions and Sharing Agreements
- CLT funding
- Ecumenical Reviews
- Church Inspections
- Annual MOTH service
- Council of Faiths
- New Communities
- and so on…
Please pray for the Church in Milton Keynes, that we would continue to grow in depth of relationships, clarity of purpose, and the fulfilment that comes from making a real difference.
The World Refugee Crisis – by the Numbers
We are living through a massive refugee crisis. It is one of the most serious problems that the World faces today.
By the end of 2017 68.5 million people had been driven from their homes across the world – more people than the entire population of Thailand.
Last year 25.4 million people fled their countries to escape conflict and persecution – nearly 3 million more than in 2016 – the biggest increase ever recorded in a single year.
New displacement is also growing, with 16.2 million people displaced during 2017. That is an average of one person displaced every two seconds.
The largest numbers of new refugees are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and Myanmar – where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees have escaped to Bangladesh.
85 per cent of refugees live in developing countries, many of which are desperately poor and receive little support to care for these new populations.
Four out of five refugees remain in countries next door to their own.
Refugees in the UK
In 2016, the UK received applications for asylum for 39,000 individuals – far less than Germany which received 92,000, Italy with 117,000 and France with 83,000.
The UK ranks 17th in Europe in terms of asylum applications per head of the population.
In 2015 the UK government pledged to receive 20,000 people from Syria through the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme. 11,649 refugees have now been taken in under VPRS by 283 different local authorities – including Milton Keynes where we have now welcomed 13 families.
The VPRS scheme is about to be reviewed and there is a real danger that numbers and resources will be cut. Citizens UK is now calling on government to “Extend the Welcome”.
Red Cross Numbers for Milton Keynes
There are refugees and asylum seekers in Milton Keynes from a range of different origins.
Since start of 2018 the Red Cross has been visited by 137 individuals seeking support, some with many dependants.
68 of those individuals are living in abject poverty.
Our top 5 nationalities in need here in Milton Keynes are Syria, Sri Lanka, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran and Ghana
60% of our clients are female, 40% male.
Christmas Starts with Christ – and a costume…
We took the lead on the Christmas Starts with Christ campaign in Milton Keynes once again. The project team included some new partners from the city – and beyond. This year we raised enough money to spend £2,572.81 on airtime, and were also given a grant from the Jerusalem Trust to write and produce three new adverts – which were used as far away as Shetland! For a brief report, click here.
The radio adverts were linked to a tentative social-media campaign on the theme “Where’s Jesus?” The idea was to create images of Jesus in unlikely places – reminding people that Jesus was born for all – not just the “important” people. Tim was called back from sabbatical to put on the costume. The role required a beard, and a willingness to look very silly!
Our Deanery Mission and Pastoral Committee has been working on a set of goals for the next three years. They’re keen to focus on mission and church growth. The conversations have been making huge progress, but they’re not quite there yet. They hope to have something ready for the next Synod meeting in May…
Celebrating and Blessing Milton Keynes
In the meantime, the Diocese is thinking about how they might “Celebrate and bless our largest, fastest growing city” (which is Milton Keynes, if you’re not sure…) There have been two meetings of the working group so far, and various MK people are on it, including Tim Norwood, David Thom, Paul Oxley, Sharon Grenham-Thompson, David McDougall and John Robertson. It’s early days still, but this conversation is vital as we look to the future. In the meantime, the National Infrastructure Commission has published its report into the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford Arc. This new mini-region is going to be a big feature in our lives over the next few decades, so it’s crucial that we start thinking about how we respond.
MK people are also on other Diocesan working groups, including “Making a bigger difference in the world and serving the poor” (Tim) and “Planting new congregations and churches everywhere we can” (David McDougall). It’s great that Milton Keynes is contributing to the wider agenda!
The good news is that we have now welcomed twelve families into the city through the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme. This is an amazing achievement, but many of the families are coming to the end of their initial period of support. There’s a need to think about continuing support for language, employment and social engagement. We held a “Do something Big” summit in February which has led to a few significant offers. This is an area we need to keep working on…
New agenda for Citizens MK
Three of our parishes are currently members of Citizens MK and the alliance has set four goals for 2018. These are:
- House the Homeless (new campaign)
- Life Skills for Young People (new campaign)
- Mental Health (continuing)
- Fight Against Hate (continuing).
Members of Christ the Cornerstone have taken a particular lead on “Mental Health” and “Fight Against Hate”. Tim is working with the “House the Homeless” team and is pulling together a campaign to develop a Community Land Trust for Milton Keynes. This is a mechanism for providing permanent genuinely affordable homes and could be a really exciting development. For more about CLTs see the National Community Land Trust Network.
The next big event is the Sleepeazy with the YMCA on March 16th.
And in other news…
- Ian Herbert is now Rector of Woughton
- Tim Norwood spent three months on Sabbatical
- Ross Northing is now on Sabbatical
- We’re starting a series of three open Synod meetings which will use community organising to turn dreams into action…
Tim’s new book, “Organising Prayer” is now available. It can be ordered online from Lulu and will be available for sale at Cornerstone. It costs £2.50 and contains the morning prayer outlines used at Cornerstone at 8.30am from Monday to Thursday.
Highlights of the meeting included our requests for people to help with (a) the integration of families in Milton Keynes [especially work opportunities and mentoring], (b) welcoming families [especially coordinating the teams who have already volunteered], and (c) raising awareness of the issues affecting refugees and migrants [especially helping to write articles and speak at events].
A PDF version of the slides from the evening (for those who missed it or would like a record/reminder of what was said and the contact details) can be found by clicking on the following link:
A lively series of discussions followed the presentations, and several concrete actions are already forthcoming: we will be following up these actions and describing them in future articles and meetings. Many thanks to the MK Academy for hosting the event, and to all our attendees.
Thanks for helping and heeding our call, and don’t forget to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you can assist with the specific requests in our slides.
Tim Norwood, Chair, Refugees Welcome Milton Keynes, rwmk.org.uk
The work with refugees in MK is reaching an important crossroads! As we mentioned in our previous newsletter, we are looking to you, our supporters, to help us make decisions about the way forward.
Our group Refugees Welcome Milton Keynes (RWMK) began two years ago as a Citizens MK campaign, and is now an independent charity. It has been an amazing two years! We have been privileged to welcome ten families to MK through the Government’s Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme – sixty three people in all!
If you have been closely involved with any of this, you will know how good it has been to meet our new friends and welcome them to our city. You will also know how careful we have to be about safeguarding, professional boundaries and data protection – which means we can’t talk publicly about all the things we do because of the need to preserve family privacy and safety. Some people have been closely involved, but many haven’t had a chance to help yet…
But we are aware of the danger that our initial enthusiasm and energy might evaporate if we don’t revitalize our ideas and rethink our work. To address this we are going to have two very special Supporters’ Summits:
7.00pm on Monday 13 November at the Church of the Holy Cross in Two Mile Ash
At this first meeting we will hear from refugees and volunteers about the challenges that need to be addressed and welcome ideas from you all for future action. The meeting will begin with some testimonials from refugees and volunteers about the work of the past two years, and then move into breakout sessions with key themes about how to move forward. At the end of the evening we hope to form some ‘research groups’ to explore ideas in more detail. The full address of the venue is 2 Church Hill, Two Mile Ash, Milton Keynes MK8 8EQ.
7.00pm on Monday 19 February 2018 at Milton Keynes Academy
At this meeting we will decide what projects will be taken forward to set the agenda for the coming year. The address of the venue is Fulwoods Drive,Leadenhall, Milton Keynes MK6 5L
Please join us for these important meetings, and help us welcome more refugees even more effectively in Milton Keynes! Late-breaking details about the meetings will be provided on our Events page: rwmk.org.uk/events
Citizens UK has agreed to be an Associate Sponsor of this year’s Greenbelt Festival. Greenbelt has been going for over 40 years. It is a Christian Festival, focussed on arts, faith and justice. It is an open and inclusive festival, so people come from all faiths and none. It aims to be an inclusive space for families to meet, learn, debate and socialise together in pursuit of the common good. There will be Catholic mass and a Muslim prayer tent.
Many people involved in Citizens have also been part of the Greenbelt story. They’ve been speakers, campers, volunteers and festival-goers. Last year a few of us ran a seminar about our work. This year we plan to do a lot more! Citizens UK will be a significant presence at this year’s festival. We will be running a series of events on the Monday. Luke Bretheton and Anna Rowlands will be speaking. We will also have an “event tent” which we hope to use in a creative way…
Citizens UK has negotiated 210 adult tickets at the reduced price of £100 each! Tickets for 18-25 year olds are already subsidised at £83; Youth and children are £50 There are also existing concessions for students, over 65’s and those on benefits Day tickets are £30.00 each person.
There will be roughly 20 reduced price tickets per chapter, so you will need to move fast. We need to know the names and email addresses of people from your who want to go ASAP We can then issue discount codes directly to those people so they can book their tickets. If there are any places left after this, we may be able to offer more. It would also be good to know is anyone is keen to help with the event tent….
Contact Tim for more information
Kim Opszala of Dentons LLP UKMEA was formally thanked by members of the Refugees Welcome MK team, Marc Eisenstadt (pictured left) and Tim Norwood (right), for her and her colleagues’ pro bono work in producing legal documents for their constitution as a charitable incorporated organisation.
“I look forward to continuing to work with Refugees Welcome in the next phase of the charity’s development,” said Kim.
For further information about Refugees Welcome MK, visit www.rwmk.org.uk
For Dentons, it’s www.dentons.com.