Marston Vale Forest Centre – Guided Visit and Talk on Renewable Energy

Transition MK are partnering with the Beds.Climate Change Forum to offer people a guided tour and talk on the Marston Vale Forest Centre and its renewable energy activities.

See and hear about 3 types of renewable energy, and enjoy an informative talk by James Russell, Forest Director.

The evening costs £3.50 (payable on the evening) and this includes the tour, talk and light refreshments.

Book online using the Transition MK website or visit their Eventbrite page to sign up

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Blog Post

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.

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Communities Engage MK Volunteering

Employee Volunteering: Small team makes a big impact at St Mungos!

Home Retail Group supported to access volunteering thanks to Community Action: MK

Volunteering and making a difference isn’t always about a big team making a big statement – just ask Abbegail Sawney and her team of 2! Originally the team were about 8-10 people in size but due to sickness and other commitments on the day the team shrunk. However, the group of 3 from Home Retail Group made a big impact on one of the gardens that St Mungos own. St Mungos support young people and provide a safe place to live for a period of time. They support people who are at risk and vulnerable and include isolated people with mental health or drug problems, current and ex offenders, former rough sleepers now in their own homes and people who are begging or street drinking. This is a vital service across the country and here in MK. St Mungos have various locations across MK and the small team from HRG dedicated their volunteering day at one location tidying up their garden and planting flowers.

Community Action: MK run a brokerage service between charities/local groups and cooperates who are looking for volunteering days across the city. We were able to support the group to find a great volunteering opportunity.

“This was the first time we were able to volunteer as a team at a local community organisation. We wanted to support a smaller charity as smaller groups are often over-looked. We had a site visit before hand and we really welcomed by the staff. None of our team lives in MK but we wanted to give something back to the community that we work in. We are all amateur gardeners but we have made a real impact today on the garden and it’s fantastic to see all the hard work we have put in has paid off!” – Abbegail, Home Retail Group

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“It’s so important that we can provide a quiet, calm and inviting outdoor space for those who live here. The team have been great, they have worked really hard to transform the space and I know how grateful everyone will be. We need to organise a summer BBQ now, as the space is more accessible and I am sure it will be used a lot this summer!” – Eli, St Mungos

Volunteering provides an opportunity to give back and make a difference whether you are just one person or a team of 100 you can help make an impact in people’s lives.

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If you are a business, charity or community group in Milton Keynes and would like to know more information about the programme please contact us at ev@communityactionmk.org or call 01908 661623.

Employee Volunteering Projects

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 www.ourmk.org, 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.

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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 www.ourmk.org.

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

Employee Volunteering: CA:MK ‘bridge the gap’ in providing Volunteering for Home Retail Group Staff!

With over 20 years experience working with the charities and voluntary groups, we are the leading organisation on community involvement in Milton Keynes.

Community is the foundation of a good and healthy society. It is not simply a group of random individuals who share close proximity. It is a powerful force that can bring unity, purpose and action as well as security and contentment.

“Volunteers are not worthless they are priceless.”

Community Action MK acts as a brokerage service with corporates, charities and volunteer groups. An example of this is working with Home Retail Group. We provide volunteering opportunities for their staff. We were able to link a team with Stowe National Trust and in May 13 employees  spent the day at Stowe painting a bridge and were able to make the bridge look its best.

“The wooden bridge had not been painted for 5 years, it’s a really significant landmark, as it can been seen from many points in the gardens. Ideally it needs to be painted every year, so without the support of this team this probably would not have happened this year as we have many priorities to deal with at Stowe. The bridge now looks fantastic, which visitors will be able to enjoy. We would definitely like more volunteers in the future and have many restoration projects on the go and would love more teams to come out to help us” – Patrick Green from Stowe

“Overall we had a fantastic day as a team. It was a great opportunity to give something back as well as an opportunity to bond together as a team. I would recommend others coming here for a team building day” – Pete Wilks, Team Leader from Home Retail Group

If you are a business, charity or community group in Milton Keynes and would like to know more information about the programme please contact us at ev@communityactionmk.org or call 01908 661623.

Employee Volunteering News from and for the VCS Projects

Research & Reports Round-up: VAT, Safeguarding Report, Barriers to Top Jobs, Charitable Business Plans, Engagement, Payment by Results and Sustainable Volunteering

Updated direct mail VAT guidance published

Updated guidance on VAT on direct mail has now been published by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The Charity Tax Group says that this will ‘provide certainty and clarity for charities’ following HMRC’s change of view on the issue.


How safe are our children?

NSPCC has published a report that compiles and analyses the most robust and up-to-date child protection data that exists across the UK. The report sets out 20 different indicators and each one looks at ‘how safe are our children?’ from a different perspective.


Study into non-educational barriers to top jobs published

The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission has published research on ‘Non educational barriers to the elite profession evaluation‘ showing that working-class applicants struggle to get access to top jobs in the UK. The research is the product of extensive interviews with staff from 13 elite law, accountancy and financial services firms, who together are responsible for 45,000 of the best jobs in the country.


How to eliminate weak spots in a charitable business plan

Carolyn Sims, head of banking at Charity Bank, has written a blog that describes six ways to help a charity plan for the future.


Engaging people with lived experience of severe and multiple disadvantage

Shaping Our Lives and User Voice have produced a report, ‘Engaging people with lived experience of severe and multiple disadvantage’.


Payment by Results

A new report by the National Audit Office says that, without a common source of shared expertise and a strong evidence base, Payment by Results schemes may be poorly designed and implemented, and commissioners are in danger of ‘reinventing the wheel’ for each new scheme.


Society is changing in ways that have specific consequences for volunteering

An article written by Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, explains why charities need to respond to changes in society to ensure that volunteering is sustainable.

Blog Post Charities & Community Groups News from and for the VCS Volunteering

News Round-up: Select Committees, Civil Society Debate, State of the Sector Survey, Better Opportunities Fund

Winning candidates for select committees announced

Nominations for chairs of the 26 elected select committees and the chair of the Backbench Business Committee closed on 10 June and elections were held by secret ballot on 17 June. Clive Betts has been elected as chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee. Full list is here.


House of Lords debates civil society

Members of the House of Lords have debated the role of civil society following the publishing of a Church of England pastoral letter ‘who is my neighbour?’. The Lords discussed decreased voting levels, political apathy and increases in loneliness within society.


State of the sector surveyClinks

Clinks is asking for organisations that work with criminal offenders and/or in criminal justice to participate in a survey. The survey is open to voluntary sector organisations and hopes to gather information on the current state of the sector and how it impacts voluntary organisations and the criminal offenders it works with.


Building Better Opportunities fund 

The Big Lottery Fund opened applications for a regional £15 million fund to tackle social exclusion and long term unemployment. The funding is part of BIG’s Building Better Opportunities fund.


 (Stories via NAVCA)

Blog Post News from and for the VCS