MK:Smart holds its first project advice workshop!

Exploring great ideas for MK

The MK:Smart Citizen Innovation team hosted the first in a series of advice workshops this week, organised to support MK Citizens with great project ideas to apply for funding through the Citizens Ideas Competition. The Competition is open to projects aimed at improving transport, energy, water, health or environment in MK. The successful entries will be granted funding to help them start or develop their projects in the coming months.

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The workshop featured an opening presentation from Gerd Kortuem and Daniel Gooch at the Open University, and Rebecca Brown from Community Action: MK, who deliver the Citizen Innovation work-package within the MK:Smart project. The session covered the key facts about MK:Smart project and its objectives, and explained the process behind the MK:Smart Citizen Innovation Fund.

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This introductory part was followed by interactive sessions with a number of advice stations for the attendees, offering information and advice in the areas such as:

  • Community Enterprise
  • Starting up a new group
  • Involving Citizens
  • Bid writing tips
  • Our MK: technical support

The attendees had a chance to ask questions, browse the materials showcased at each of the advice stations, and take some resources with them. The session was also a great opportunity for them to network and chat about their ideas to fellow citizens, identifying areas of synergy and potential for collaboration. Rebecca, from Community Action: MK said “We heard a range of different project ideas from the citizens and we were able to offer them guidance on how to make their ideas a reality using this opportunity”. Ten Citizens attended this workshop from groups such as Wolverton Community Energy and Transition MK, as well as individuals across the city. We expect a similar number and range of people again next week.

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We were delighted to see a wide range of interesting projects being represented at the workshop: from the Urban Farm concepts to community energy and white-coated rooftops generating renewable energy. We are now looking forward to seeing some of these ideas developed into projects and entered into the competition officially. You can see all the project ideas on our new interactive website, OurMK.

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The feedback from the attendees has been very positive and we are already aware of some of the project owners talking to one another to connect their ideas and find areas of synergy.

The next advice workshop is taking place on Wednesday 29th of July and we are encouraging all citizens who have ideas for projects to submit them on OurMK and come along to the workshop to find out more about the competition and the MK:Smart project in general. Sign-up via Eventbrite here.

You can follow our MK:Smart updates through #MKSmart #ChallengeMK or sign up here to receive our monthly newsletter.


Funding for Big Ideas in MK

Have you got a great idea for an innovative project in MK?
Enter Our MK Citizen Ideas Competition for a chance to win funding to run your project!

Our MK* is bringing together communities, data and enterprise to transform Milton Keynes. We want your innovative ideas for transport, energy, water, health and environment in our city, and to support you to develop these ideas into citizen-led projects.

Our MK is powered by MK:Smart**, working to bring MK to the forefront of innovation, technology and data. Our MK now has funding available for your projects that could help MK achieve this. Could you use up to £5k to get your project off the ground?

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The deadline for the first round of this competition funding is 16th August, and support to develop your project will be given at a series of workshops before this date. For further information about how you can apply, visit

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*Our MK ( is a website, created as part of the MK:Smart programme, to gather citizens’ ideas and develop them into projects.  MK:Smart will be providing funding and support to turn some of these projects into citizen-led action.   Our MK is led by The Open University and has been created in partnership with Community Action: MK and GrayMatter.

**MK:Smart ( is an Open University-led consortium of local and national partners in a significant Big Data initiative that will see Milton Keynes benefit from a £16m Higher Education Funding Council for England Catalyst grant funded project. MK:Smart will develop innovative ways of supporting the significant forecast growth in Milton Keynes through curation of the data that drives the city’s key transport, water and energy infrastructure.  Our aim is to help Milton Keynes face the sustainability issues that are a result of our growth as a city.

For more information please contact Community Action: MK’s MK:Smart Contract Lead,

Blog Post MK:Smart

Embracing social media as part of Engage MK Networking Event on ‘Building Your e-Community’

Community Action: MK held a networking event for frontline community workers and local groups, and volunteers in Milton Keynes on Monday 22nd of June 2015 at Cruck Barn, Bradwell Abbey.

The event, organised as part of the Engage MK project and funded by Safer MK, focused on the effective use of social media to promote local groups and projects and communicate with their supporters and service-users. The aim of the event was to explore how community workers could use digital communications to better connect with the communities in which they work.

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Two speakers shared shared their knowledge of social media through their interactive presentations. We heard from Sarah Moran, a freelance social media consultant and an associate with the successful local marketing agency, Jersey Road, giving useful tips on how to use social media to communicate and grow local causes. Hywel Jones, Campaign and Marketing Manager at the Milton Keynes based charity, Willen Hospice, showcased the charity’s successful way of working with social media on some of their very successful digital campaigns.

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Aside from exploring the ways of using digital media as part of the community work, the event was also an opportunity to network and share useful contacts between the attendees.

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Attendees also had a chance to explore the stalls showcasing the work that Community Action: MK does through digital media. This included stalls with information about our online volunteering recruitment service, the QuickChat mobile and desktop app used by Community Mobilisers as part of their community engagement, and OurMK, a brand new interactive website launched as part of the MK:Smart project, which allows every citizen on Milton Keynes to share their ideas on how to improve the use of transport, energy, water, health and environment in the city.

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The Engage MK Network is a partnership project between Community Action: MK and Safer MK. Our events bring together staff, volunteers and community groups working to support MK communities. We welcome all staff and volunteers who work with local communities in MK to join our network.

You can follow updates about the project, including news about our future events, through #EngageMK.


Communities Engage MK Volunteering

MK Smart project takes OurMK to local community

The MK Smart Citizen Engagement team were very excited to launch a new #MKSmart collaboration platform called OurMK last week.

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Accessible at, the platform is an interactive website available to MK citizens. Every citizen can set-up their own profile on the website and upload any ideas (or even more detailed projects) they might have for improving the following areas in MK:

  • Transport
  • Energy
  • Water
  • Health
  • Environment

In the future, some of these ideas will be developed into projects, which – if successful – will become eligible to apply for funds and turned into tangible initiatives.

Our team took this exciting new website to various events and activities taking place last week.

On Monday 22nd of June we showcased the project and the platform at the Engage MK networking event at Bradwell Abbey, which focused on the effective use of social media to drive community-based groups and projects.

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On Friday 26th of June we visited the weekly coffee morning at Moorlands Centre in Benhill, a hugely popular local community activity. We talked to residents there about the new website and updated them on the progress of the MK Smart project, following our visit earlier this year. As always in Beanhill, we received lots of useful feedback and suggestions, and two local residents have successfully created their profiles on OurMK, and uploaded their own ideas on the site – one of them on how to improve the water distribution in the city.


Raymond Wall talked to us with passion about how, he believes, preserving rain-water as part of every household maintenance would benefit the environment and our health, giving us a sense of wellbeing by working with nature.

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We loved Ray’s vision and would love to see more MK citizens sharing their ideas on OurMK! To find out more about Ray’s and many other interesting concepts already uploaded on the site, please visit

We look forward to seeing your great ideas, which will help to shift people’s approach to the local environment and, ultimately, turn Milton Keynes into a truly sustainable SMART city.

Follow updates about the project via #MKSmart and tag your ideas as #ChallengeMK.

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Blog Post MK:Smart

Engage MK: PCSOs workshop with YMCA on supporting homeless and vulnerably-housed residents

This week a group of PCSOs, working in various parts of Milton Keynes attended our Engage MK workshop focused on supporting residents who are affected by homelessness or housing issues.

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The workshop, hosted by Community Action: MK, was facilitated by Simon Green, Director of Operations at Milton Keynes YMCA, a flagship local charity providing accommodation and support to people affected by bad housing.

The PCSOs learnt about the facilities and services offered by YMCA, including their flats, the hostel and a programme of support activities to help people get out from their housing crisis. To find out about the services offered by YMCA, please visit their website: You can also follow their work on Twitter @MKYMCA and Facebook.

The PCSOs had a vital input into the workshop, asking practical questions on how to support people in urgent housing need, including people at risk of becoming homeless and about the services, other than YMCA, available in Milton Keynes.


The Engage MK team are creating a comprehensive list of housing & homelessness services that PCSOs and other frontline community workers can sign-post residents to, which will be uploaded on Community Action: MK website soon.

The key contacts for anyone experiencing housing issues or being at risk of becoming homeless are:
T: 01908 295600
T: free housing advice helpline: 0808 800 4444
On-line advice:
MK St. Mungos Broadway
T: 01908 239700
Open Door MK
T: 07873 841 310
Street Ministers
T: 01908 234643
Foodbank MK
T: 01908 322800


Engage MK runs a series of events and workshops for community organisations and frontline community workers. You can follow us at #EngageMK

Our next networking event will be on Monday 22nd of June and will be dedicated to Building e-Communities and using social media effectively to promote local causes and projects, and reaching out to wider audience. Sign up on Eventbrite here.


Blog Post Engage MK

Beanhill Residents Team up for Community Clean Up Day in May

A group of Beanhill residents, with support from their Community Mobiliser, are organising a community-led clean up day on the estate on Wednesday 13th of May.

A number of local residents are volunteering their time to organise the event, hoping to get as many of their neighbours involved on the day as possible.

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Beanhill Action Group and Community & Events Group are also getting behind the initiative to help make it a success.

Both Woughton Community Council and Serco, the cleaning contractor on the estate, have offered their support and will be providing the necessary tools, including litter-pickers.

The Community Life Champion at the local Asda store has also committed to supporting the initiative, donating a £20 food shopping voucher, which will be drawn by the volunteers on the day.

Moorlands Children’s and Community Centre is also supporting the event. The volunteers will meet at the centre after cleaning the streets to have a well-deserved cup of tea and a snack!

The aim of this initiative is to get the local residents together in a joint action that will help to tidy up the badly affected spots on the estate as well as highlight the ongoing environmental issues in Beanhill, including fly-tipping and dumped rubbish. The residents want to take action to send a clear message to the whole of the estate: that a joint effort can help towards making and maintaining Beanhill as a tidy, friendly and desirable place to live.

Local residents in Beanhill have already been initiating some great ‘green’ projects on the estate, like this flower & plant bed and bug-box:

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This community-driven clean event is a sign of a strong community spirit in Beanhill and the fact that the local residents do care about the cleanliness of their estate.

“I hope this initiative will bring the community together and let people know we want a nice clean area. I also hope it will encourage people not to fly tip, but to ask for help with rubbish removal, and encourage residents to help one another”, said Laura Nash, the event’s coordinator, who has also volunteered as a Community Champion in Beanhill.

Any residents wishing to get involved, including those living in the neighbouring estates, can join in on Wednesday 13th of May  – the volunteers will be meeting at 9.30am outside Moorlands Centre.
For more information on how to get involved, please e-mail Anna, Community Mobiliser in Beanhill, at
Blog Post Communities News from and for the VCS

New Knitting & Crafts Group has arrived in Beanhill!

woolMoorlands Children’s and Community Centre has a new and exciting addition to its already busy calendar of events and activities.

The local residents have set up a new knitting and crafts group and proudly called themselves: ‘Creative Stitches’.

Residents involved in creating the group have described it as an opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds to unleash their creativity, spend time with fellow residents and, most importantly, develop new skills.

A number of residents offered their time, skills and even materials to make the initiative successful.

At the first meeting the group facilitators printed out some useful patterns and guidelines for the beginners. The more experienced knitters were helping those new to knitting by showing them techniques and patterns. All this was accompanied by interesting conversations (and a lot of laughs!) as well as tea/coffee and cakes!

Creative Stitches will be meeting every Tuesday 4-5PM at Moorlands Children’s Community Centre: Dodkin, Beanhill,  MK6 4LP.

Blog Post Communities News from and for the VCS