Guest Blog – Depaul MK

This week we have been joined by Megan from Depaul UK, MK to share the work of the organisation which is working to prevent youth homelessness across MK. We love hearing about the work of the voluntary and community sector if you or your group would like to blog with us just email – support@communityactionmk.org. Now to hear from Depaul UK, thank you for sharing with us.

Depaul logo

Hi there and welcome to Depaul UK, MK. We are new to Milton Keynes but Depaul UK has more than 30 years of experience working with young people facing homelessness.

The service in Milton Keynes is run by me, Megan, along with my colleagues Catherine, Gladys, and our new in post Nightstop Coordinator, who we will introduce very soon. Between us, we have a wealth of experience supporting young people and their families from both charity and local authority backgrounds. We are all local and are passionate about improving lives of those living within the community. Many will know that there is a need for our service and we are really excited to show you the difference that Depaul can make in the community.

From Left to Right – Gladys, Catherine, Me (Megan)

Relationship breakdown is one of the leading causes of youth homelessness, so in January we launched our Reconnect service. Reconnect supports young people and families to overcome conflict and strengthen relationships through improved communication. Reconnect services elsewhere in the UK have a great track record for helping mend those broken relationships and ensure that young people don’t become homeless.

We have also just launched Nightstop Milton Keynes, which is part of the Nightstop UK network. The service prevents young people from having to sleep on the streets by providing short-term emergency accommodation in the homes of trained and vetted volunteer hosts.

It’s a safe, flexible, tried and tested model that has helped to keep thousands of young people safe and off the streets for over three decades. And, it can’t run without the help of our amazing Nightstop volunteers – people who open their homes to provide a room, a listening ear and a meal.

We are so grateful to our volunteer hosts and drivers already helping Nightstop across the country. Now, we can’t wait to meet and train those who wish to join us in Milton Keynes and we can’t wait to make positive connections within the community.

Please do get in contact and join one of our live online Q&A sessions to learn more about volunteering with us.  

http://twitter.com/depauluk

https://www.facebook.com/DepaulMiltonKeynes

Thank you to Megan and the team at Depaul for ‘blogging’ with us and sharing the work they are doing. Depaul is currently recruiting volunteers. You can read more about their roles through our community platform DoIt where you can also register an interest in volunteering with Depaul. Sign up to join DoIt here – http://bit.ly/CAMK-DO-IT-Vols

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woman with a laptop talking to two other women, who are facing her

AVMKSAASS are hiring!

Aylesbury Vale and Milton Keynes Sexual Assault and Abuse Support Service (AVMKSAASS) provides support, information, advice and guidance to anyone in our area affected by sexual assault and abuse, including non-recent and childhood sexual abuse.

We are currently looking to recruit a Helpline Advisor and an Advocacy Coordinator to join our growing team.

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Winter Night Shelter MK is looking for volunteers – can you help?

Covid-19 has affected the voluntary and community sector in numerous ways, one impact on the Winter Night Shelter Milton Keynes is that their services are going from being seasonal (winter) to all year round. This is to ensure the support is available for the increasing numbers of vulnerable people. Read on to hear from the WNSMK about their work, the impact of Covid-19, their volunteers and how you can get involved. Thank you Winter Night Shelter Milton Keynes for sharing this with us and all the amazing work you do! To apply for a role this spring/summer please complete this application form: WNSMK volunteer application form (spring/summer 2021)

Volunteer handing out a hot drink at Unity Park Station

The Winter Night Shelter Milton Keynes has been supporting the homeless and vulnerable for the last 10 years. We provide year-round welfare and practical support from our centre, Unity Park Station (the old bus station in town on Elder Gate).

We not only support rough sleepers but help a growing number of individuals who are not yet homeless but faced with crisis, in order to ensure they don’t end up on the streets in the first place.

In normal times we would also provide supervised overnight accommodation and meals to homeless people who would otherwise be rough sleeping in Milton Keynes during the coldest months of the year, although over the winter just gone we have been focusing on providing help to people placed into emergency accommodation under the government’s ‘Everyone In’ policy.

Our Welfare Team enable our guests to recover lost ID, access benefits, access drug and alcohol support services, to obtain housing advice, move on to longer-term accommodation and to find work.

Our volunteers based at Unity Park Station enable the provision of ‘wrap around’ support for our guests, including access to showers and washing machines, refreshments, hot meals and takeaway food parcels. Covid in general and lockdown in particular means that we have been a lifeline to many, as most support services have been suspended or have been offering online access only. 

Recruiting more volunteers to address growing need

The Covid legacy for us this year is that we are going from being a ‘seasonal’ charity to needing to maintain our level of operations year-round because of growing need.

Usually we are ‘off-peak’ over spring and summer, focusing on fundraising and preparations for autumn.  However, we do not want to reduce our services at the current time, when many people need us more than ever. The number of homeless people we are helping has doubled since the beginning of this year, and we are seeing people newly in crisis arrive daily at Unity Park Station for help. 

We are therefore making plans to maintain and build on our current food and welfare operations, to bridge the gap between last winter and the next in a way that we have never had to do before. 

We are currently looking for new volunteers to join our team in order to keep our services going through spring/summer and to relieve some of our current volunteer cohort who may be returning to work or needing to step down for a break after a busy winter season. Will you join us? 

Volunteer helping with food preparation

Our volunteer roles

We require volunteers for the following roles on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9.30am-2pm: 

  • Kitchen duty: food preparation
  • Kitchen duty: drinks preparation
  • Table service and guest interaction
  • Supervision of showers and toilets
  • Additional cleaning
  • Clothing management
Volunteer helping with clothing management

The additional cleaning roles are important for things such as wiping down frequently touched surfaces, to maintain a safe environment and minimise the risk of Covid transmission. These roles are essential; if we don’t have enough volunteers willing to do these roles we are not able to operate safely. 

Due to Covid roles this year will be fixed in team bubbles and shifts are typically once a fortnight.

In addition to our active volunteers we also need a bank of reserve volunteers to be available to help on a more occasional basis to fill gaps if other volunteers are unable to attend their shift for any reason. Due to Covid we require more reserve volunteers than ever before, to keep services running if people find that they need to self-isolate or if they need to look after dependents such as children whose school bubble may be required to isolate.

How to apply

We welcome applications from people of all backgrounds and levels of experience. Training will be given, the main things that are required are compassion for the homeless and willingness to work collaboratively as part of a friendly team. 

To apply for a role this spring/summer please complete this application form: WNSMK volunteer application form (spring/summer 2021)

Alternatively, for further information please contact Jana Turner: opsassistant@winternightsheltermk.com.

For more information about the Winter Night Shelter Milton Keynes visit – www.winternightsheltermk.com.

Increased cleaning is vital to allow the service to run, volunteer helping keep Unity Park Station clean
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Inclusive Communications Session from Sensory Advice Resource Centre

SARC are running a training and awareness session on inclusive communications for people with sight and hearing loss.

Image caption: Sensory Advice Resource Centre logo

This FREE training and awareness raising session will be focused on sharing practical tools that can allow your organisations to be more inclusive of those with sight and hearing loss. It is vital that we are all learning how to do better and be more inclusive so that everyone can access the amazing services that are on offer across MK. The session will touch on the lived experiences of SARC’s service users and the ways that organisations can adapt. 

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Sign Up Now – Our New Volunteering Platform

In 2021 we’ve been making some changes and hoping to improve our volunteering platform to suit the evolving needs that we have come across throughout the pandemic and adjust and adapt as we move into this New Year. 

With this in mind we have transitioned to and created a Community Action: MK, Doit.Org site. We feel that this platform will better suit the needs of groups and volunteers as we move forwards. We’d like to encourage organisations to create their profile page and begin uploading volunteering opportunities so that volunteers can see the variety of opportunities available in MK. More details below including, videos guiding you through the platform and ways to access support.

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Volunteer recruitment and management in the age of COVID

FREE Zoom training
26th January 2021, 10am – 12pm

A well thought out volunteering programme has always been necessary for effective
volunteer recruitment and management. But it may be difficult to know where to start if
you are new to volunteer management or want to refresh your approach – and the current
coronavirus pandemic brings an additional set of challenges.

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