Homelessness has been a major issue for everyone in central Milton Keynes for many years and the MyMiltonKeynes Tap to Donate scheme, launched in December 2019, was set up to support Milton Keynes Homelessness Partnership (MKHP), who work together with a number of key organisations to provide a real and long-term solution.
Starting off with two trial donation points, the scheme has grown rapidly, despite the pandemic, and there are now nine machines strategically located across MK, including within the shopping centres, train station, hotels and leisure sites.
Thanks to kind contributions from the local community, MKHP has been able to step up its vital work to support those who are most ‘at risk’ of homelessness. This has come at a particularly prevalent time, with the end of the government’s financial Covid support and changes in funding streams increasing the vulnerability of low-income households.
Snapshot of support
Thanks to contributions from the Tap to Donate scheme MKHP has been able to:
- Complete phase one of its mapping of service provision (health, wellbeing, financial and housing) within the homeless sector, and work towards phases two and three, which will develop a service that provides easy access to the right support at the right time.
- Bring together a network of 35 organisations from the voluntary, statutory and private sector to share best practice, identify challenges and work together to deliver long-term solutions.
- Implement the MKHP Health and Wellbeing strategy, working in collaboration with mental health services and outreach clinics to target more than 750 households in temporary accommodation to understand and improve their access to GP and other health service in MK.
- Support volunteers with the training required to help homeless people, offering a counselling service during the pandemic and carrying out much needed research, in order to make recommendations for change.
- Coordinate food provision for 200 homeless and vulnerable people in temporary accommodation at the height of the pandemic and deliver a comprehensive report of the learnings, to help shape future requirements, for example avoiding duplication, raising food standards and minimising the chance of people slipping through the net.
- Work with Jury’s Inn Hotel to distribute surplus food, bedding and linen. As a result of introductions made by MyMiltonKeynes:
- 170 breakfast bags were donated and distributed to Winter Night Shelter, YMCA and Salvation Army;
- Over 200 items of bedding and linen have been donated to YMCA, Salvation Army and Connections Support, benefiting those who are at risk of experiencing homelessness.
- Establish a COVID Action Group to deliver vaccines to rough sleepers, those in emergency hotels and in temporary accommodation, as well as young people at risk and Afghan Refugees in MK:
- 15 locations, administering 250 vaccinations to those aged over 16 who may not currently access traditional GP services. This is an ongoing programme.
- Development of a pilot plan called Pathways to Independence, designed to provide person-centred solutions to positively impact people experiencing homelessness, by:
- Reducing health inequalities (access to health services and outreach clinics)
- Developing skills to enable people to make good lifestyle choices and to build resilience (money management and sustaining a tenancy)
- Reducing isolation and promoting integration by connecting communities (signposting to local community activities)
- Improving access to support services available to the homeless
- Developing tools to support individual journey tracking and data sharing between MKHP registered partners.
Tracey McCillen, Chief Executive of Milton Keynes Homelessness Partnership, said:
“When we first discussed the idea of the Tap to Donate machines with MyMiltonKeynes, we could never have imagined how successful the scheme would become and we are overwhelmed to have reached such a milestone target in just two years, particularly given the huge challenges we have all faced.
“As well as all of the successes outlined above, Tap to Donate boosted funding that we received from the National Lottery Community Fund, enabling us to complete our research report ‘Impact of COVID 19 on homelessness in MK’. This is the first report of its kind for MK and as a result a series of recommendations are being mobilised into action. You can read the report at https://www.mkhp.co.uk/assets/documents/The-Impact-of-COVID-19-on-Homelessness-in-Milton-Keynes-Full-Report.pdf”.
Melanie Beck MBE, Chief Executive of MyMiltonKeynes, says:
“One of our leading priorities, as set out in our plan for the first term of the Milton Keynes BID was to: partner with MK Council and local charities to find a long-term solution to rough sleeping and aggressive begging in the city centre. As well as working with MKHP to deliver and maintain the Tap to Donate machines, we’ve supported the YMCA, investing in its new homes for young people and assisting with placing YMCA residents in paid supported employment to facilitate their ambitions to make positive life changes.”
For further information about Milton Keynes Homelessness Partnership and how you can support its work visit https://mkhp.co.uk/.
Visit www.mymiltonkeynes.co.uk for further information and to keep up to date with all of the latest information from Your Business Improvement District follow @MyMiltonKeynes on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.