What an amazing event that our local grant-making heroes at Milton Keynes Community Foundation held last Friday (26 January)!
We had a couple of reps there, proud to be representing Planting Up among the diverse crowd of over 200 guests in the Unity Place auditorium as MK Community Foundation launched their 11th Vital Signs MK© annual report.
Dame Anne Limb, the High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire, hosted the event to a full Unity Place auditorium, with representatives from various charities, businesses, and community groups in attendance, including colleagues from Transition Town MK and Doughnut Economics.
Our good friend, Helen Innes, Project Lead for Food Connect with Hubbub, took to the stage for the one-to-one interview covering the Environment section, and did herself and her organisation proud.
She talked about the amazing work of our strong Community Fridge Network in Milton Keynes and the tonnes of surplus food that they save from going to waste from retailers every year, that we’ve come to know her for.
She also hailed her latest inspiring endeavours with Food Connect, a zero emissions food redistribution service that is ‘taking good food further’ in Milton Keynes; describing the positive things they’re doing using a small fleet of e-cargo bikes and e-vans to share good food with the community that would otherwise be wasted.
Huge amounts of resources go into growing, processing, packing, storing and transporting food however 6.4 million tonnes of edible food is wasted yearly by retailers, manufacturers, caterers, restaurants and in people’s homes in the UK. Source: WRAP
Ian Revell, CEO of MK Community Foundation, highlighted how this year’s Vital Signs report demonstrates the challenges posed by the cost-of-living crisis and the post-pandemic climate but also celebrated the unwavering dedication of MK citizens to collaborate and uplift the most vulnerable in our community.
“We were thrilled to see a full auditorium at Unity Place as we launched our 11th edition of Vital Signs. Although it’s clear that the cost-of-living crisis and post-pandemic climate is having a huge impact on our communities, the event also proved the dedication and passion of MK citizens to work together to improve the lives of the most vulnerable in Milton Keynes.” (Ian Revell, MK Community Foundation)
The report gave us a deep dive into the current challenges and opportunities within Milton Keynes with a focus on the cost-of-living crisis, the aftermath of lockdowns and COVID-19, and the impact on people’s education, mental health, families, and the environment. All of which revealed some eye-opening stats, including these:
- 25% of secondary school pupils in MK reported having a mental health problem in the last year.
- 25% of secondary school pupils in MK are skipping meals due to weight concerns.
- In MK, 37% of greenhouse gas emissions come from transport, exceeding England’s average of 31%.
- 26% of secondary school pupils in MK missed 10% of school sessions in 2023, double the rate of 2018/19.
- In 2022, 30% of children in Milton Keynes were living in poverty.
- MK Food Bank witnessed a whopping 49% increase in usage between 2022 and 2023.
Each report section panellist showed how real the challenges are, but amidst the stats that make your heart ache, there’s also hope. Alongside Helen Innes, we had success stories and insights from Laxman Kastala of DreamsAI, Zoe Raven of Acorn Early Years, and Jon Manning of Arthur Ellis.
And there are positive case studies highlighted in the report too. Not least a small feature spotlighting the positive impact our very own Planting Up permaculture project is making in our community!
Just look at that full page given to Keith 😉
To dive deeper into the nitty-gritty of this year’s Vital Signs report, head over to MK Community Foundation’s website and download your copy at https://www.mkcommunityfoundation.co.uk/vital-signs-mk/.
Let’s stay informed, inspired, and continue supporting our local heroes in creating a fairer community that tackles these challenges head-on and maximises the opportunities before us.