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.

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Volunteer Opportunity of the Week: Al’s Pals

Al’s Pals are a local cancer support charity, who are recruiting volunteers. Read on for more about this impactful charity, and how you can support their work:

The Story Behind Al’s Pals

“ Al’s Pals is named after Alan Dumbell, who received cancer treatment at Milton Keynes University Hospital. Alan noticed that throughout his treatment, although he was surrounded by his loving family, he still felt very lonely and lost at times, and he often discussed having a ‘buddy’ to support and help him where he felt things were missing. It was his legacy to have a cancer buddy scheme like this and with the passion of his daughter, Al’s Pals was born.”

Volunteer Role Description

Becoming an Al’s Pals volunteer entails supporting those affected by cancer, this can change over time, but activities can include:

  • Accompanying a person to their hospital appointments
  • Providing a friendly person to chat to 
  • Signposting to services
  • Follow up phone calls
  • Manning the Al’s Pals stand in the Cancer Centre, MK Hospital

DBS checks and an induction will be arranged by Al’s Pals.

More information about the role can be found here, as well as how to apply.

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Volunteer Opportunity of the Week: Harry’s Rainbow

Harry’s Rainbow, a charity which supports bereaved children and their families in Milton Keynes, and surrounding areas, are looking for volunteers to help at their Christmas celebration on Saturday 26th November 12-5pm.

“This is an event for our families to have some fun and be supported through what can be a hard time of the year.”

They have lots of festive fun planned, and would like volunteers to help with craft activities, which include making reindeer food and  creating Christmas tree decorations. Volunteers are also needed to assist with serving teas and coffees, helping Santa in his grotto, and welcoming families in the reception area.

If you feel you can support this special event, then please do get in touch with Rachel, Family Liaison Officer, by:

 email rachel@harrysrainbow.co.uk or call 01908 061676.


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Volunteer Opportunity of the Week: Knife Angel Volunteer Marshals

The National Monument against Violence & Aggression (Knife Angel) is being hosted in Milton Keynes this December and January at MK Dons Stadium. Thames Valley police are seeking volunteer marshals to provide information and answer questions from the large footfall the monument is likely to attract. You can read more about the creation of the Knife Angel here. 

Can you give a few hours of your time to stand with the Angel and promote the anti-violence message? It could act as a team-building day for a workforce, or for a charity to share its own anti-violence message. A one-hour online training session and briefing pack will be provided to those who volunteer.

Marshalls Dates and Times:

Times are available between 10am-2pm or 2pm-6pm daily, between 3rd December to 7th January.

All volunteers must be 18 years or over, unless accompanied by an appropriate adult registered and authorised to volunteer for this initiative.

Venue Location:

Gate 1, Stadium MK, Denbigh, Milton Keynes, MK1 1ST.

For travel information, visit: www.mkdons.com/club/visit-stadiummk

The recruitment deadline is this Friday 18th November.

For further information, please email : knifeangelvolunteers@thamesvalley.police.uk or haydn.lewis@thamesvalley.police.uk.

Image Credit: British Ironwork Centre

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Trustees’ Week 7-11 November

We’re in the midst of Trustees’ Week, an opportunity to highlight the vital role trustees play in  charities. This year’s theme is ‘making a difference in changing times’, a reflection of the uncertain and difficult landscape faced by the sector and society as a whole. It is also an opportunity to celebrate the achievements and impact of trustees;their voluntary commitment ensures charities and groups can continue to support communities in Milton Keynes and beyond.

You can read more about the Community Action: MK trustees here. Their dedication, knowledge of Milton Keynes communities and wealth of experience provides invaluable support for the work of Community Action: MK, we’d like to thank them for their year-round efforts, including appearances as Easter bunnies (!), representing Community Action: MK on national news, supporting events, and the behind-the-scenes diligence that ensures we can strengthen the Milton Keynes community and VCSE sector. 

Thinking of becoming a trustee?

If our trustees have inspired you, and you’re interested in finding a trustee role, you can join our community on the volunteering platform DoIt. life, where you can browse opportunities by searching for ‘trustee’. You can also book a support session with our Volunteering Coordinator, who will help you connect to a role, email support@communityactionmk.org if you’d like to find out more.

Becoming a trustee has many benefits, it can provide connections, it’s also a valuable CPD opportunity. Read more about the positive impact of becoming a trustee here. 

Are you looking for a trustee?

If you have vacant trustee roles and would like our support getting to word out, we can promote the opportunity across our social media channels, on our website and in the weekly newsletter which reaches 1300 inboxes. Email support@communityactionmk.org with the role description and contact details.

Getting on Board supports the diversification of boards, providing guidance and empowering individuals from all sectors of society in becoming a trustee. They also provide guidance for organisations in their commitment to recruiting a representative board.

Their Festival of Trusteeship offers a programme of online events this Trustees’ Week, with info and panel sessions demystifying trusteeship.

Are you already a trustee, looking for resources to help you in your role?

Trustees’ Week has compiled a comprehensive compendium of resources, including links to the Charity Commission’s 5-minute reads for potential and existing trustees.

The National Council for Voluntary Action (NCVO) offers a concise run-down of the legal duties of trustees, with the Resource Centre providing a checklist of the responsibilities of management committees.  You can also find further guidance in our Information Sheets. 

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Trustees’ Week: Milton Keynes City Discovery Centre are seeking a Trustee with Legal Experience

As part of Trustees’ Week, we’re highlighting trustee roles in Milton Keynes.

Milton Keynes City Discovery Centre (MKCDC) is a Registered Educational Charity with a Trading Arm, and is a company limited by guarantee.

MKCDC are based at the beautiful Scheduled Ancient Monument medieval site of Bradwell Abbey, with several medieval buildings in situ, and 13 acres of woodland and landscaping. Their site and business are a hidden gem within the modern city of Milton Keynes.

They have recently completed a conservation project, and as a result, are ready to action the parts of their Business Plan that will see the site developing into an operational heritage attraction. 

They are now looking for a new Trustee with legal experience, to start immediately once interviews and checks have taken place. The role is voluntary, but expenses are offered:

Trustee with Legal Experience

Reports to: The Board

Purpose of the role:

In partnership with the Director to advise on and ensure the legal compliance of the organisation

Advise on appropriate legal matters where necessary

Main duties:

Advise as necessary/appropriate on legal matters affecting the organisation

Communicate with relevant staff and other committee members so as to maintain a clear picture of the legal compliance of the organisation as and when necessary

With the Director, advise on appropriate organisation policy and procedure

Key qualities:

A knowledge of legal requirements for charities and trading bodies

Ability to communicate and advise on legal practice relating to charities and trading bodies

Any legal background considered, although property, and/or staff and/or contract experience is desirable.

Please contact the Director, Noël James, via email if you are interested: 

Director@mkcdc.org.uk, attaching CV and cover letter, or alternatively post to Dr. Noël James. MKCDC, Bradwell Abbey, Alston Drive, Milton Keynes,MK13 9AP.

Please call 07951 997334 if you would like to discuss before applying.

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Volunteer Opportunity of the Week: The Winter Night Shelter Milton Keynes

This week’s Volunteer Opportunity of the Week comes from The Winter Night Shelter Milton Keynes:

“Originally set up to help the homeless during the coldest months of the year, The Winter Night Shelter MK now operates all year round, due to the demand and increase in need for our services. We provide welfare support, enabling our guests to access drug and alcohol support services, obtain housing advice, move on to longer-term accommodation and to find work. We also provide overnight accommodation to homeless and vulnerable people who would otherwise be rough sleeping in Milton Keynes during the coldest months of the year (November–March).

We work in partnership with churches and community centres across the city who offer their facilities as an overnight venue and operate with teams of trained volunteers to provide beds and overnight supervision. This winter will be our 12th year of running our overnight accommodation.”


The Night Shelter will be hosted at the following venues on the following days:

Mon pm – Tue am: Loughton Baptist Church

Tue pm – Wed am: Newport Pagnell Baptist Church

Wed pm – Thu am: The Ridgeway Centre (Wolverton) & Shenley Christian Fellowship – alternative fortnights

Thu pm – Fri am: Stony Stratford Community Church & The Ridgeway Centre (Wolverton) – alternative fortnights

Fri pm – Sat am: St George’s Church (Wolverton) & MK Christian Foundation (Wolverton)

Sat pm – Sun am: Christ the Vine Community Church (Coffee Hall) & Church of the Holy Cross (Two Mile Ash)

Sun pm – Mon am: St Mary’s Church (Woburn) & Whaddon Way Church (Bletchley)

Opening the doors of The Winter Night Shelter to those who need a warm welcome would not be possible without the help of dedicated volunteers.

If you’d like to join the volunteer team, or would like to read further details of the varying roles, including welcoming guests, forming part of the Nightwatch, or preparing refreshments, click here:

Volunteer | Winter Night Shelter Milton Keynes (winternightsheltermk.org)

Images: The Winter Night Shelter

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