Staff and students from MK College Group spent yesterday volunteering their time to support charities and community groups across Milton Keynes.
The College Group’s first ever College in the Community Day involved more than 600 students and staff supporting 35 projects around the city for organisations whose vital work helps to tackle a range of issues including isolation, food poverty, bereavement, homelessness and community cohesion. With the cost-of-living crisis having a huge impact on both individuals and organisations, the College Group’s support is very timely for the communities of Milton Keynes.
Some of the projects that students and staff supported on the day included:
· Sorting and delivering 687 items donated by staff and students to MK Foodbank, St Mark’s Meals, MK Act and the Milton Keynes Winter Night Shelter.
· Barbering, Hairdressing and Beauty students offering free haircuts, styles and mini manicures to residents at Milton Keynes YMCA.
· Hosting a free lunch at the College’s Brasserie restaurant for around 20 older residents from West Bletchley.
· Painting and Decorating students redecorating the Wellbeing room for mental health charity YiS, creating a safe space for young people with mental health challenges.
· Litter picking in areas including Great Linford and Woughton.
· Packing memory boxes for Harry’s Rainbow, a local charity providing support to bereaved children.
· Writing and sending more than 100 “postcards of kindness” to local care home residents.
· Games and Animation students designing avatars for the mascots of MK Snap and Willen Hospice.
Nia Haines from YMCA MK commented: “YMCA Milton Keynes was delighted to welcome MK College to campus this morning as part of their College in the Community Day. It was great to see so many residents getting involved, having their nails done or getting their hair cut, a treat and a cost saving in the current cost-of-living crisis. We are delighted to work with MK College and are very grateful for their ongoing support.”
Angie Row from St Mark’s Meals said: “MK College provide us with fantastic support by fundraising and collecting food for our meal kits. We also provide meal boxes to support students at MK College who need extra support.
“The students who visited today have raised over £400 for St Mark's Meals. It's great to meet them today and show the behind-the-scenes charity operations and pack some boxes together. The money raised will help us to provide 66 meal kit boxes to support families who need it. Each box feeds a family, so that's 264 plates of dinner on the table where it's needed most.
“We saw a 32% rise in need in 2022 with the cost-of-living crisis on top of the demands of an extraordinary 2021. As a charity we have been blown away by the community in Milton Keynes who just keeps stepping up to support us, from individuals giving £6 per month, to companies giving more, schools and MK College holding fundraisers for us and people running in the MK Marathon.”
Alasdair McWilliams, Data Protection Officer at MK College Group who volunteered at MK Foodbank and St Mark’s Meals, said: “It was really great to see the work the foodbank does, and sobering to hear how the demand for their service has increased so dramatically over the last few years and how much pressure that has put on dwindling contributions. The encouraging thing was to hear from other volunteers about how much they value and enjoy the work they do, and how committed they are. They were very welcoming and were keen to let us know how much they appreciated our assistance, reassuring us we were a genuine help, and not a hindrance. It was good to know that we were making a positive contribution to an important service; one that makes such a vital difference to people’s daily lives”.
Sally Alexander, Group Principal and CEO of Milton Keynes College Group, said: “Our first College in the Community Day was a huge success. From visiting many of the projects, it was clear to see that our students and staff were incredibly enthusiastic about supporting these vital organisations and the feedback from the groups themselves has been extremely positive.
“The College in the Community Day came about as we wanted to support our local Milton Keynes communities who we know are struggling with a range of issues, which have of course been exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis. And we wanted our students to have the opportunity to use the skills they’re developing with us out in their local communities. We hope that we’ve taken even one small step on the journey to building fairer futures with our College in the Community Day, and are looking forward to building on our relationships with these fantastic organisations, to help them keep doing their work that’s much-needed across Milton Keynes”.