Volunteering with BucksVision

Today’s guest blog is from BucksVision, who are currently recruiting for a number of volunteer roles across Milton Keynes. Read on for all the details:

We are your local society dedicated to supporting visually impaired people across Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes.

If you would like to make a difference, this is an opportunity for you to join our fantastic team of volunteers, and to be a vital part of BucksVision’s commitment to sight loss prevention and support.

Becoming a volunteer can be very rewarding and there are many ways that you can help support us. By volunteering with us you can get involved in our wide range of services such as Fundraising, Home Services, and our Social & Activity groups.

We make every effort to ensure that you receive the appropriate support and training, so that you can realise your full potential as a volunteer helping people with visual impairment.

The Roles

Partridge Social Club

Peartree Centre, MK6 3EB

Volunteer Drivers and Social Club helpers needed. Meet fortnightly on a Thursday, 2.30pm – 4.30pm

Wolverton Social Club

Herons Court, MK12 6DQ

Volunteer Drivers and Social Club helpers needed. Meet fortnightly on a Tuesday, 2pm – 4pm.

Technology Group

SARC Offices, MK9 2AH

Volunteer Technology Support Advisers, we’re looking for volunteers who have experience with smartphones and other devices who can help visually impaired people become digitally included.

Meeting the last Friday of every month, 10.30am – 12.30am.

Walking Group (Long Walks)

Various locations across MK

Volunteer Drivers and Guides, we’re in need of volunteers to collect and guide our members. Volunteers will need to be physically able and comfortable walking for 2 hours.

Meeting one Saturday a month across the MK area.

Walking Group (Short Walks)

As above but walking for 1 hour.

Meeting 2nd Sunday of the month at 10.30am across the MK area.

For how to apply for any of these roles, click here.

Blog Post Strengthening Groups Volunteering

College in the Community Day – Tuesday 21st February

Are you looking for volunteer power to help boost any of your upcoming projects? Then keep reading, as today’s guest blog comes from MK College, with more about their College in the Community Day:

MK College are planning a day of action across Milton Keynes where as many of their students and staff as possible support the community and are looking for groups to work with on this. It could be a skills-based activity or something anyone could do, for a couple of hours or the whole day, at one of our campuses or in your project setting – if you have something they could get involved in, they want to hear from you!

If you have any questions or would like to discuss project ideas, please contact Rebecca Myrie, Community Engagement Manager (rebecca.myrie@mkcollege.ac.uk).

The picture is of Painting & Decorating students working on Woughton Community Centre in January 2020.

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Guest Blog by Poorvi Srivastava: Spotlight on Homelessness Resources

Poorvi has been volunteering her time with us since September 2022, and she has created this guest blog to highlight resources tackling homelessness. Many thanks to Poorvi for her much-appreciated contributions to the work of Community Action: MK!

With the winter and colder days fast approaching and the overall concerns around the Cost of Living crisis, it’s always a time when we think more about the needs of the most vulnerable people in our communities, including those that are homeless.

The cause for homelessness is commonly misunderstood as laziness. Contrary to belief, there are many socioeconomic factors that play a role in homelessness. Lack of affordable housing, rising unemployment, mental or physical health problems are just a few of the many reasons causing homelessness. People who leave prison, care or the armed forces may not have a support system and may be unable to provide for themselves. 

It can be a huge struggle to get out of homeless as people search for employment. They have no home address to fill in, no phone number to give and sometimes may not have adequate qualifications. All of these problems can be difficult to deal with, especially without a warm, safe environment to go to every night. People sleeping on the street are almost 17 times more likely to have been victims of violence. 

However there are many outlets all over Milton Keynes that anybody can be a part of to help the community and people that are struggling, particularly with the coldest months of the year looming. 

Winter Nights Shelter MK is a year- round charity that provides services, hot meals and food supplies that can be taken away. They also have clothing, sleeping supplies and toiletries available. If you are interested in volunteering more information can be found on the website here. 

Depaul’s is another great charity that improves access to education, training and employment opportunities for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. More information can be found here

Keeping Kids Off The Streets (KKOTS) is a non-profit organisation, every Friday they cook over 700 meals for the homeless and struggling families, they also host community events, more information can be found here

MK food bank is a great way to indirectly have a huge impact on people’s lives so any donations or volunteers would be amazing for the community!

Homelessnes has so many different forms – it’s not just those that are forced to live on the streets, but also individuals and families that are living in temporary accommodation such motels or B&Bs and those that are sofa-surfing, or the Refugees that had to flee from places affected by war or other political/ economical upheavals. According to Shelter, the national housing and homelessness charity, there are currently over 115,000 children who are homeless in the UK and the cost of living crisis is posing a great risk of even more individuals and families becoming homeless in the coming months. There are a number of national and local organisations that campaign for and provide advice, support and volunteering opportunities to support individuals and families that are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Shelter, mentioned above, is one of them. In Milton Keynes, MK Homelessness Partnership is coordinating the work and related to supporting the local homelessness community and you can find out more about their work here. You can also access useful signposting information on our website here.

Blog Post Strengthening Groups Volunteering

Creating the Community Action: MK Five Year Plan 2023-28

We’re currently collating feedback to inform our next Five Year Plan (2023-28), and we need the voices of the Milton Keynes’ Voluntary and Community Groups and Organisations.

We’re focusing on how Community Action: MK can best support MK groups to:

  • Access funding and other opportunities for growth and collaboration
  • Develop and maintain a thriving volunteer community
  • Help position the VCSE in Milton Keynes as a strategic partner within the local decision and policy making in the City

With this in mind, we’re posing two questions for consideration:

  1. What should our priorities in the above areas be? Are there any gaps we have missed?
  2. How can CA: MK share the impact of Milton Keynes’ Voluntary and Community Groups and Organisations?

You can answer these questions via this Google Jamboard, a virtual flip chart, where you can add ‘sticky notes’ using the menu found on the left hand side of the page.

Sharing your thoughts will take around 5 minutes, and your opinions will be anonymous.

The Jamboard will be open until the first week of December. You can also read our current Five Year plan here, and the responses to the two questions gathered during our October 2022 AGM here.

Many thanks for taking the time to complete the board, your insights will be invaluable in ensuring we can continue to strengthen groups, communities and the VCSE sector in Milton Keynes.
 If you would like to discuss any of the topics in more detail, please email support@communityactionmk.org to arrange a support session with a member of the team.

Blog Post Mobilising Communities Shaping Decision Making and Policy Strengthening Groups Volunteering

Volunteer Opportunity of the Week: Milton Keynes MS Society Group

Do you relish being organised? Are you reliable and efficient? The Milton Keynes MS Society are recruiting for a number of volunteer roles, where these qualities will shine. 

The Roles

Minutes Secretary– Great at the finer details? You’ll be taking minutes on monthly Zoom meetings, held on the second Wednesday of the month, 2.30-4pm.  

Bucket Collectors – Can you spare a couple of hours at the weekends to help raise funds? Collections have previously taken place in MK supermarkets or CMK.

Communications Volunteer – Do you love words? This role will involve writing newsletters and creating engaging content for social media.

Admin Volunteer – This role involves organising, facilitation, and general assistance. A great all-rounder would be ideal for this varied opportunity.

Volunteers do not need any knowledge of MS. Full training will be given.

If you’re interested in finding our more, or would like to apply please email Jo at miltonkeynessupport@mssociety.org.uk

Blog Post Strengthening Groups Volunteering

Volunteer Opportunity of the Week – Diabetes UK Milton Keynes

Who are Diabetes UK Milton Keynes?

Diabetes UK Milton Keynes aim to provide help and support to people living with or who are affected by diabetes in our area.

 Their  monthly peer support meetings provide a safe and friendly environment, and are usually held on the third Thursday of the month,  at Centrecom Meeting Place in the City Centre. Meetings start at 7pm and are usually finished by 9pm.

The Volunteer Opportunity 

Diabetes UK Milton Keynes are looking for a volunteer to help facilitate meetings by helping set out chairs and tables, plus making tea or coffee. and ideally help clear up after meeting.

This involves a volunteer commitment of approximately 3-3.5 hours per month.

If you’d like to find out more, please email: miltonkeynes.diabetesukgroup@gmail.com

@MKDiabetesUK Facebook Group.

Blog Post Strengthening Groups Volunteering

Coping with the Cost of Living

The increases in the cost of living are ever prevalent, but there are both local and national organisations that can provide help and support.

Cost of Living Payments

If you are claiming a low-income benefit and think that you are entitled to a Cost of Living Payment, you
don’t need to do anything. You’ll get the payments automatically. The first instalment of the £650 Cost of Living Payments will be paid automatically to eligible people, between 14 – 31 July. The remaining £324 will be paid in autumn. To find out more visit Cost of Living Payment .

Help for Households: a summary of government support.

General Articles

Cost of living: Why are things so hard for so many people? – BBC News

Citizens Advice Monthly Briefing on Cost of Living Crisis

The energy crisis: impact on charities | Harrison Clark Rickerbys (hcrlaw.com)

Guardian article – impact on single parents and their children 

ACEVO, the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations has compiled a range of links to reports, surveys and data sources to support civil society leaders to understand the impact of the Cost of Living crisis.

Keeping Warm

Good Law Project

Regularly publishing ‘Empowered’ articles on different themes related to the cost-of-living support available and consumer rights.

The first article examines energy bill support and discounts.

The second article explains how to claim the benefits you’re entitled to.

The third article helps with understanding the rules on energy disconnection and prepayment meters.

Do you have a combi boiler?

Changing your boiler settings, could potentially cut gas use by 6-8% without changing room temperature. Nesta have launched a prototype tool to help optimise their heating: https://www.nesta.org.uk/project/optimising-boilers-reduce-household-emissions/how-to-optimise-your-boiler/

Octopus Energy – Free electric blankets for our most vulnerable

Find out more and register your interest here.

Transition town Milton Keynes

Local community group promoting local action for low-carbon living. Their website offers a range of ideas related to improving energy efficiency of households that could help with reducing costs.

SuperHomes scheme and newsletters: practical advice on keeping homes well-insulated and warm. 

Better Housing and Better Health

Offer impartial advice on reducing heating bills and keeping warm.

Martin Lewis Money Saving Expert

Champion of consumer rights, his website provides a wealth of information on coping strategies and ways to reduce household bills.

National Energy Foundation, Warm Home Discount

Those who need it most can get £140 (inclusive of VAT) off their electricity bill in the winter (September – March). NEF also issues Emergency Energy Cards.

Citizens Advice Bureau

A round up of advice, including Winter Fuel Payments, Cold Weather Payments and links to energy suppliers who offer grants to their customers. CAB also provides links to support if you’re struggling with living costs.

Superhomes

Advice on reducing domestic energy use, sign up to their newsletter for tips.

Money Advice, Budgeting and Funding

MK Money Lifeline

Offering free confidential money advice and resources to anyone in the Milton Keynes area. Their services are provided by a team of trained volunteers who give advice in accordance with the training provided by Community Money Advice.

Milton Keynes Council 

Extra financial help, including assistance with rent, council tax relief, and local welfare provision.

Household support fund | Milton Keynes Council (milton-keynes.gov.uk)

Funding from the Council to help residents who are in financial difficulties and struggling to meet the cost of essential items including:

  • Food
  • Energy and water bills
  • Repair or purchase of essential household appliances
  • Servicing and repair of heating systems
  • School uniform or other essential clothing
  • Other essential living costs

Turn2Us

A national charity who offers assistance to those struggling financially.

Data Poverty: The Good Things Foundation

Supporting people with data connectivity.

Housing and Homelessness

Housing solutions and homelessness advice | Milton Keynes Council (milton-keynes.gov.uk)

Shelter

A national charity that helps people struggling with bad housing or homelessness, or the costs of housing, through  advice, support and legal services. They have a comprehensive resource bank on their website and a free emergency helpline, open Monday to Friday, 8am – 8pm and 9am – 5pm on weekends and bank holidays: 0808 800 4444. 

Winter Night Shelter

WNS support rough sleepers; people in emergency/temporary housing; people in need of support with tenancies and those at risk of homelessness.

Food and Cooking on a Budget

MK Melting Pot

MK Melting Pot aims to help young people, vulnerable families and individuals overcome hunger and integrate, empowering people from diverse cultures with new skills to overcome hardship. Some of their services include: Food Donations, Online Cooking, Employability & Training, Money Management and a Children Club. Contact details: phone – 01908 585537 email – mkmeltingpot@hotmail.com

MK Food Bank

The Food Bank Helpline: 0300 303 4933 or text HELP 07874 964505 open between 9:00am – 3:00pm, Monday – Friday. You can leave a message outside of these times.

FoodCycle

Beginning on the 4 November at the Old Bath House in Wolverton, a chance to enjoy a free, vegetarian 3 course meal in welcoming environment. No vouchers or referrals needed.

Trussell Trust

A charity that connects people to food banks and also offers an advice line

DREAMSAI – Food charity and Shri Shirdi Saibaba Temple Milton Keynes

Cooking Good – Healthy, Community Cooking (cooking-good.co.uk)

Healthy, low-cost meal suggestions and recipes.

Reducing Fuel Use

MK Connect

Innovative and responsive public transport.

MK Connect: Demand-responsive transport in Milton Keynes. – Via Transportation (ridewithvia.com)

Improving your cycling skills

Training courses – Milton Keynes (getaroundmk.org.uk)

Period Poverty

Girl Pack MK  – Girl Pack is for anyone who is in need of sanitary towels and underwear just so they can go to school or work (not means tested). Available in schools, community/children’s and family centres and local council offices all over MK. A list of venues can be found on their Facebook page.

Shopping

Charity shops are good places to find a bargain and a wide variety of stock. With the cost of living crisis leaving the people with less disposable income, second-hand shopping might be a good money-saving option. Just type in ‘charity shops near me’ into your search engine to find your local charity shops.

To see other vital services available in Milton Keynes, please visit our Signposting Channels page: communityactionmk.org/signposting-channels

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