Citizens, groups and decision makers urged to take immediate action

A new campaigning group has been formed in Milton Keynes in response to the refugee crisis that has been at the centre of media attention in recent weeks.

The Refugees Welcome campaign is led by a group of citizens from across Milton Keynes, who want to take urgent practical action to ensure that the city, its local authorities, groups and citizens, offer accommodation to at least what really is a fair share of refugees.

Carmel Schmid, the group’s Chair, said:

‘We knew we had to act urgently; we formed a team of resourceful people; took advice from counterparts elsewhere and proceeded to build capacity. We found there was a lot of agreement about what was required: – the agenda was set.”

The Group, supported by Citizens MK, the local chapter of Citizens UK, strongly believes that Milton Keynes must take immediate action to offer refuge to suffering Syrians, as well as to refugees from other parts of the world, in the midst of an overwhelming humanitarian crisis.

The Government has allocated a proportion of the country’s international aid budget, which is to be used to help local authorities cover the costs of housing refugees. Milton Keynes Council is yet to unfold its plans to realize this opportunity and define its offer of helping a ‘fair share’ of refugees.

Carmel added:

“We need to impress upon those in power the possibilities that are in reach, and we need to create possibilities that appear out of reach. MK Council have the power to accept refugees, but it is up to the community to impress upon them the extent of local support to provide refuge in our city”.

Some 23 councils across the UK have committed to taking on their fair share of refugees over the past year, including  – most recently – Barnet Council. Citizens UK have been supporting these initiatives by working in partnership with Avaaz as part of the organisation’s UK-wide campaign. To find out more about the Citizens Refugees campaign, click here.

The campaign’s role is twofold – to put pressure on the Council and to find accommodation. We will involve all those who can assist in the objective, work to resolve blockages and promote to influential members of the business community the benefits of resettling refugees.

To meet the accommodation requirements, the group’s goals are to:

–       Identify private landlords willing to accommodate

–       Identify letting agents with capacity

–       Sign up prospective foster carers

–       Consider conversions of disused public buildings

The group is in the process of collating a Refugees Welcome Directory of local groups, services and commercial providers that have come forward to offer their help as part of this city-wide refugee resettlement action. The group is seeking offers of:

●      Self-contained accommodation (with rent payable)

●      Labour to build or develop existing community buildings

●      English lessons, befriending and other forms of care

Refugees Welcome in MK campaigning group meets on the second Wednesday of each month at 7pm in CMK. If you can offer any assistance to the campaign, please contact the group at:

Follow updates about the Refugees Welcome campaign on social media:

Twitter: @CitizensMK/ #mkrefugees

Facebook: search for CitizensMK