After meeting at Acorn House in the morning, we headed off in our Mini Bus to our first stop of the day which was Shenley Brook End Training Centre (connected to Shenley Brook End School) where they provide Leadership, Equality and Diversity training to support BME teachers to achieve leadership positions. MK Community Foundation have recently funded Shenley Brook End School to deliver the training of teachers in Leadership Equality & Diversity, to be held at the Training Centre; supporting teachers from BME backgrounds to ensure positive outcomes for students from BME/ disadvantaged backgrounds. Outcomes of the training they offer include: developing your own leadership style, increased self-awareness and interpersonal skills, increased confidence to progress in your career and gaining a better understanding of diversity issues. Chris Holmwood, the Head Teacher of Shenley Brook End School, spoke to us about the programme and we were also lucky enough to hear from a woman who has benefited from the training, who explained to us the importance of the training and how working together with people who have had similar experiences was extremely helpful.
Our second visit of the day was to Milton Keynes Christian Foundation’s ‘The Urb farm’. MK Community Foundation and our guests had the opportunity to have a tour of the grounds and speak to some of the volunteers who are learning on the job and gaining valuable work and employment skills. We were able to look inside their greenhouses, where they grow fruit and vegetables that can then be sold on as part of their enterprise. We also had the opportunity to watch some natural dying in process, where they were using blueberries and avocado stones to create wonderfully designed bags and purses. One of the things that people can get involved with at The Urb Farm, is their ‘Urban Beelievers’ which is a social enterprise where people can get involved in Bee Keeping. They have a special area of the farm where they have their hives, and explained to us all about the upkeep of them and how they look after the bees at different times of the year. A volunteer who was working there as part of the Urban Beelievers, was telling us about their Flower Bombs, which were available for purchase, that contain a mixture of seeds that will bloom into flowers that are perfect for pollinating bees. As we walked deeper into The Urb Farm, we were able to get a closer look at their ‘Duckingham Palace’ which is currently under construction, to house their ducks. We also saw their chicken pen, with their creatively designed coops where they lived. The tremendous amount of work that goes into the upkeep of the farm and the creation of new and developing areas, such as their Bug City or their forest trail, is made possible with the help of loyal and hard working volunteers.
After our tour around the farm, we headed over to Milton Keynes Christian Foundation’s ‘Think Food Café’ at their base in Wolverton. The food was served to us and cooked by people who were part of the ‘Think Food Café’ social enterprise that enables participants to learn valuable life and employment skills. We were lucky enough to try some of the homemade quiches that were made using the fresh, quality ingredients from The Urb Farm we had just visited, as well as homemade vegetable soups and jacket potatoes; we finished our meal by having some lovely homemade chocolate cake and Victoria sponge.
Our third and final visit of the day was to a Worktree ‘Career Workout’ session at Oakgrove School. Worktree run these sessions that introduce students to guests from different work backgrounds so they can find out what it’s really like in different jobs. The format is a one-hour speed-interview session where students interview each guest about their personal experiences of work, in small groups of 2-4 students in a carousel of 6-7 minute interviews. MK Community Foundation have recently funded Worktree for a 6 week careers workshop for young offenders at Oakhill Secure Training Centre, this project will introduce the participants to people and occupations they may never have considered, build their confidence and develop employability skills.
MK Community Foundation would like to say a huge thank you to our High Sheriff and everyone who attended for helping to make this visit such a success, and a huge thank you to the organisations involved who told us all about the amazing work they do.