Soroptimist International Milton Keynes was chartered in 2015 and in 2021 we reached our 6th Charter year anniversary. In that time, we have carried out a number of projects supporting our local community, aiming to Educate, Empower and Enable.
Between 2015 and 2018 we run:
- awareness workshops in schools on Domestic Violence
- Forced Marriage workshops to raise awareness in schools and colleges
YMCA MK – sponsoring a room
2019/20 resulted in the achievement of our most significant and biggest project undertaken to-date. SI:MK raised £2,605 to sponsor a room at the new YMCA facility in Central Milton Keynes and made 30 quilts so that each resident could have their own quilt on their journey back into the community. To read more about how we did this click here
How to follow that? We have all year round projects supporting our linked charities (scroll down this page to see more) and we try to have a major project on the go to. In 2020 we piloted our “Escape the Trap” project in association with MK Act and outlined below:
‘Escape the Trap’ (Teenage Relationship Abuse Programme)
|“MK has the highest level of domestic abuse occurrences in the Thames Valley area and deals with 17% of all TVP reports.”|
About Soroptimists International:Milton Keynes (SI:MK)
SI:MK is the local branch of a global organisation advocating for human rights and gender equality for women and girls and represented at the UN. Soroptimists transform the lives and status of women and girls through education, empowerment and enabling opportunities https://sigbi.org/
Locally we deliver primarily by supporting four respected charities who work directly with vulnerable young women locally:
- Milton Keynes Red Cross working with refugee women and children;
- Milton Keynes YMCA working with homeless women;
- Works for Us supporting women into work; and
- MK ACT supporting victims of domestic violence.
About MK ACT
MK ACT is an independent charity in Milton Keynes, which has provided a range of high-quality support services to families experiencing domestic abuse and sexual violence in Milton Keynes for over 35 years. Safe emergency accommodation for 22 families is also provided.
It is accredited by the Women’s Aid Federation of England http://www.mkact.com
‘Escape the Trap’ (Teenage Relationship Abuse Programme)
MK ACT will deliver the “Escape the Trap” projects across Milton Keynes through both secondary and primary schools. As a second phase we are planning to apply for further funding to deliver the courses to young people involved in the YOT as well as Pupil Referral Units in Milton Keynes.
‘It is important to make children and young people aware of behaviour towards them that is not acceptable and how they can help keep themselves safe. The non-statutory framework for PSHE provides opportunities for children and young people to learn about keeping safe and who to ask for help if their safety is threatened.’
Safeguarding Children in Education, DfES 2004 (latest paper)
Work to date
Our plan is to work with MK Act and we have obtained funding of £10,200 to train its staff to develop and carry out a pilot scheme firstly at Ousedale School and then to roll out to further schools once the pilot has been evaluated.
The pilot programme started in January 2020 and involved a group of 12 young women identified by the school. The workshops were delivered by the same two MK Act staff thus building relationships on a weekly basis. They will resume, socially distanced, when the school reopens.
Two other schools have agreed to hold workshops post lockdown and we are now raising the funds for future workshops, although this has taken a bit of a halt due to the cancellation of various fund-raising activities.
And we are now pleased to report that in 2022 Milton Keynes Council are now offering this training to schools.
If you feel strongly about this area of work and can spare us a donation, please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org
Your support and donations are much appreciated in helping us deliver this project, even more so now in these very difficult times. Coronavirus has seen an increase in domestic abuse and illustrates even more how important it is to provide this help to youngsters.
But that was not all we were doing in 2020/21. And the Coronavirus pandemic did not get in our way:
Our newest project is linked to MK Act, the Women’s Refuge. They told us that one of the things they need help with is providing cleaning materials for the families when they move out. “Clean Start” is our new project to provide a bucket full of cleaning essentials to each family as they move out. We have found that we can make a bucket up of various cleaning essentials for UNDER £20.
These essentials include – Bucket, Scrubbing Brush, White/Blue cloths, Dustpan and Brush, Toilet Brush, Washing up Liquid, Dish Brush, Sponge scourers, Ciff cream, Bleach, Anti-bacterial cleaner, Household gloves and Black bin bags.
Buckets of cleaning materials given to families, homeless and residents from our charities finally setting up their own homes
When a family is ready to leave we present them with a bucket and a certificate wishing them all the best in their new life.
When Kathy Howard of the Welfare Team at The Winter Night Shelter heard about this project she asked if we could also provide buckets for those homeless people her team help back into accommodation and work. Kathy asked us if we could provide these buckets to give to people starting out again, because usually they have nothing to start a new life.
And our other linked charity YMCA will also be provided with these buckets for when their residents finally leave the sanctuary of the YMCA and start out a new.
Really pleased to announce in 2022 we now have a Project Sponsor in Dunelm in Milton Keynes who will be providing us with 3 buckets of cleaning items for our charities. Thank you Dunelm
Save our Toiletries (SOS) – we collect toiletry items for our SOS packs for vulnerable people, especially women and girls. You would be shocked to know just how many women and young girls cannot afford the most essential items like Sanitary products.
We work in partnership with “MK Act – The Women’s Refuge”, “YMCA MK”, “The British Red Cross” and Winter Night Shelter MK. This was one of the first projects we started in 2015 and by the middle of 2021 we had donated over £4,000 in value of toiletries to these charities and this is one of our projects we do all year round.
If you can help us, please donate any new and unused toiletries. Here is a short list below:
Sanitary Products Soap Shower Gel Toothpaste and Toothbrushes
Deodorant Combs Hand and Body Cream Perfume
Collection venues include –
Great Linford Parish Council Offices,
Mead Centre in Newport Pagnell,
MK Snap, 20 Bourton Low, Walnut Tree
Redhouse Surgeries, Bletchley; Or the items can be collected if you email us at email@example.com.
We are hoping to add new donation collection stations soon. If you know of anywhere that would be happy to take on a SOS donation station please contact us. Thank you.
Many thanks for your help and please keep donating.
NHS Hearts for Hope
In April 2021 during the first lockdown Milton Keynes Soroptimist Club acted as a coordinator in Milton Keynes for the NHS Hearts for Hope activity, national group set up to enable stitchers to come together in a supportive way in order to make textile hearts to give to NHS staff who work in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) wards. It includes all staff from the cleaners and porters to the doctors, consultants, nurses and everybody in between.
We put an article on our website, on our Twitter page and asked all our members and friends if they could help us.
158 Hearts for Hope were made by members and friends which we donated to MK University Hospital Intensive Care Unit and MK Cancer Centre in May.
These Hearts were to say thank you for all their hard work, we are thinking of them and value their efforts.
Cakes for MK Act
Sue Burke, the Director of MK Act contacted one of our members to ask if there was anything we can do to help their residents at the Women’s Refuge. During Covid the residents had to all self isolate. They had 70 “bodies” living in the 28 flats and Sue said the families were finding this very hard and morale was low.
We agreed to provide a little treat each week in the form of some little homemade cakes which will be left at each flat door with the hope that they would have something to look forward to each week and it would help to perk them up.
During the first lockdown back in April 2020, we baked over 1,500 “Cakes for MK Act”. Not only our own members have been baking but a number of our friends too and a big thank you to them.
We started up again at the beginning of 2021 and when we concluded in May we had baked over 2,000 cakes at an approx. cost of £1,048. The important part of this project was to look after people’s mental health and let them know they were not forgotten.
Afghan Refugees arrive in MK
On the 18 Aug 2021, we heard that the first families airlifted from the terrible situation in Afghanistan were to be housed here in Milton Keynes. We immediately contacted our local Councillors to find out how we could help and were told they would need clothing, toiletries, and toys. We reached out to all our friends and what great friends they are.
Within the space of 10 days we were able to collect and drop off 5 full car loads of adults and children’s clothing, shoes, toiletries and toys which were then distributed to the Afghan families housed here in Milton Keynes
We are so proud to be able to give some help to these families and hope they are able to make a new and safe life for themselves here.
Postcards of Hope Campaign
Social isolation and loneliness can have a huge impact on mental health during a crisis like Covid-19. Our founder member, Angie Novell, CEO of MK Snap asked us to join a local campaign called Postcards of Hope. Angie asked if we and our friends could help her to keep in touch with over 140 local people with learning disabilities and complex needs that MK Snap charity work with. All we had to do was write a postcard with a message o hope, kindness and encouragement to keep the learners going and to let them know people were thinking of them.
In total over 300 postcards were sent to the learners of which our branch and friends contributed 70 postcards.
It’s the little things that can mean so much and help someone so much.
Ukraine Refugees in MK
In October 2022, after appearing on the Friday Charity Chat show with Thia on Stony Radio, we were kindly invited to meet the Ukranian families living here in Milton Keynes. It was a wonderful get together and with the help of our friends we were able to donate 5 sacks of winter clothing for them.
On the 8 October we held our Music Event in Newport which was a great success and raised over £600. This money was split between Soroptimist International Krakow and their work with Ukraine refugees in Poland and the Ukrainian families living here in Milton Keynes.
The Ukrainian Appeal charity are looking for donations to help provide emergency relief including medical supplies and assistance, provision of clean water, shelter and food and other necessary items. The charity also support internally displaced persons, host communities and refugees in neighbouring countries. Click here to view their website and learn more about what the charity is doing to support the Ukraine crisis.
During November with the continued help of family and friends we donated nearly 3 car loads of winter clothes and blankets to the Ukraine Appeal warehouse at 50 Tanners Drive Blakelands.
And in February 2023 we have now taken on the Ukraine Appeal Charity as another of our link charities and are looking forward to workign with them on projects to help their community.
Violence Against Women – 16 Days of Activism
Soroptimists around the world support the need to End all forms of Violence against Women and Girls and undertake a number of initiatives to raise awareness of this issue and take on projects in their communities.
Rasining awareness includes supporting the Orange the World and 16 Days of Activism initiatives. The Orange the World Campaign started back in 1991, is led by the United Nations (Soroptimist International has a consultavtive voice at the UN on womens issues and VAWG) and is marked every year on the 25 November, which is International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women. It is followed by 16 Days of Activism and ends on Human Rights Day on 10 December. To read more click here for our news article.
SI Milton Keynes raises awareness of both the Orange the World and the White Ribbon initiative, this latter focussing on helping Men end violence against women. We do this via our Twitter and Facebook pages.
We also take part in raising awareness during the 16 Days of Activism and in 2022 undertook a number of initiatives in MK.
At our November 2022 meeting our theme was Orange the World 16 Days of Activism with speakers Debbie Brock the High Sherriff of Buckingham taloking about county lines and the Knife Angel and Kelly Gardner Detective Superintendent Domestic Abuse and Stalking talking about her role in TVP. On 25 November International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and White Ribbon Day, SI MK took part in MK City Council SaferMK team event to promote the day and raise awareness with council staff on ending violence against women and girls. And that was just the start. Each day on our Twitter account along with a number of other Soroptimists clubs we raised the issues of the 16 Days of Activism and ending violence against women.
On the Big screen on 10 Dec 2022 at MK Dons home match, during the interval, the screen presented shots of a MK Dons male and woman player promoting White Ribbon, which we had a part in helping to achieve. And at the Ousedale school for a week our school presentation raising awareness on Violence against women, the 16 Days of Activism, Orange the world and White Ribbon campaigns and useful contact details was presented to their school assemblies.
And like all other Soroptimist clubs we will be planning our project for 2023.
Last updated 11 April 2023