After an introduction at Acorn House in the morning, we headed off to Milton Keynes Arts Centre, where we met Emma-Jayne, Claire, Emily and Katie who had put on a beautiful spread of fresh bread, fruit and homemade jams for us. We then got to have a walk around the new sensory garden that MK Community Foundation funded. The garden was designed by Yinka Ilori who collaborated with Milton Keynes communities to create this animated and engaging public artwork. The interactive play-scape has accessible seating for users with a range of disabilities, instruments for creating sound, interactive panels for experiencing textures and a garden path woven throughout, suitable for wheelchair users. This project engaged communities who are living with disabilities through each stage of the project, from the consultation through to the building, informing the design and usability of the space. The space also offers the chance for young people and adults with learning difficulties to engage in horticultural learning as a hobby and as personal development, as well as offering a creative space that everyone can visit to relax, explore and enjoy. We were lucky to be able to meet a local group who were enjoying a visit to the garden when we were there. After we saw the garden, we were able to have a go at throwing clay, and trying our hand at the pottery wheel and learning different techniques for moulding the clay, as well as having fun making our own flowers and other little ornaments in Milton Keynes Arts Centre’s beautiful arts studio.
After the Arts Centre, we visited Future Wolverton’s Old School Project. Marie, Director and Chief Executive of Future Wolverton, explained to us all about The Old School and showed us a video that detailed the long journey it has been to turn this Grade 2 listed building located in the heart of the community of Old Wolverton back into a community space. Over the last 7 years Future Wolverton has raised over £1.24 million pounds to purchase and refurbish the Old School with the dream to bring it back into community and education use. The Old School has three specific facilities for different uses. These include a Community space for hire in a refurbished former school room, a 3 bedroomed Guest House and a Community Cafe, which is sited in a conservatory style new extension of the building. A strategic partnership has been established with Slated Row School, a community special school for children and young people aged 4 to 19 which is located right next door to the Old School. The school caters for 182 pupils with moderate to complex special educational needs. Every aspect of the way the building operates, from the cleaning to landscape maintenance, will be supported by the students. This will enable the children and young people from the Slated Row school to gain invaluable work experience, which will help enable them to secure paid employment when they leave the school. Funders for the project include: MK Community Foundation, Power to Change, The Architectural Heritage Fund, Co-op Foundation and The National Lottery Community Fund. While we were visiting, we had lunch served to us by the students of Slated Row school from the on-site café where they were working. We were treated to lovely homemade macaroni and cheese and jacket potatoes, followed by homemade lemon drizzle cake and flapjack.
MK Community Foundation would like to say a huge thank you to our President 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.
Our Seeing is Believing visits are a fantastic way to show some of the influential ways in which MK Community Foundation enables local organisations to have a positive impact on the lives of people across Milton Keynes, if you would be interested in finding out more about them, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org