Thursday, 11 July 2019

Milton Keynes Winter Night Shelter

James Owens was a former student of mine when I was head of year at Leon School. As a teenager he was a happy lad with great potential and a good life ahead of him. He came on one of my California school exchange visits.

When I learned that he was homeless and rough-sleeping I contacted through Facebook many of my
former students, that would have been in late 2017. I suggested we should find James, he was then known as Jimmy, to show him some love and friendship.  I was devastated when I was told: Haven't you heard ?  He is dead !

From that moment on I have been passionate about the plight of our homeless friends.

Let's be clear about two things !
Jimmy did not die from the cold and
Milton Keynes Council has not been spurred into action.
I have focused my support for our homeless and rough-sleeping friends on Milton Keynes Winter Night Shelter. My ability is not raising money, support is not confined to money, but I am good at raising awareness.

I want here to put forward an idea for a simple project which will raise a bit of money for Milton Keynes Winter Night Shelter but more than money it will raise awareness and hopefully recruit some volunteer helpers for the coming winter season.

In brainstorming this idea I am sharing it with all blog readers but specifically with:

  • Milton Keynes Winter Night Shelter
  • The Mayor's Office
  • Milton Keynes Irish Centre car boot organisers
Let's see if we can make something happen.

Previously we used car boot sales to fund our music
projects. We were supported so much by the lovely people at the Irish Centre - THANK YOU.

We are not running boot sales any more but turning to a video blog project with YouTube to help cover our costs.

But could we have one more boot sale ?  A special boot sale ? A stall on one of these dates ?
Saturday 14th September - Saturday 21st September - Saturday 28th September
If we were to run a stall at Milton Keynes Irish Centre
- 8am to 11am - is there a date there where our Mayor could pop by and say HELLO ?  He's a great guy you know who has served our city for decades,

I am sending this blog to our Mayor's Office. If he is able to pop by then that is the date we work towards. (Fingers crossed for the weather !)

We set up a BIG stall - a VERY big stall. But this will be different, it will be unusual. EVERYTHING ON THE STALL WILL BE FREE !

People can come by and take anything they like in return for putting money into a collecting box for Milton Keynes Winter Night Shelter.

If we are LUCKY we will collect £100. But support is more than money - much more ! We will have a big display telling of the work of Milton
Keynes Winter Night Shelter. Josh and I will make a special radio broadcast the week before and play the podcast at the stall. We will hand out sweets to those attending and balloons to the children.

We will need people from Milton Keynes Winter Night Shelter there to talk to people about the amazing work they do and to sign up volunteers for the coming season.

I took this photograph in San Francisco which has a
homeless problem many times greater than we have in Milton Keynes. 

One man in San Francisco had a piece of cardboard on which he had written: IT'S NOT COINS I NEED BUT CHANGE. 

Milton Keynes Winter Night Shelter is putting sticking plasters on gaping wounds !  So are all good causes working with out homeless friends. You could argue that this is pointless - NO IT IS NOT.  If you see someone in need of first aid you do not walk away, you give first aid ahead of skilled medical support.
Just because there is no skilled medical support does not mean we fail to render first aid.  Milton Keynes Winter Night Shelter is doing an amazing job, skilled first aid. One day society will get its act together and provide that skilled medical support.

For previous boot sales many friends and supporters collected STUFF for us to sell. King of STUFF was Andy. To run a mega boot stall we will need tons of
stuff. We are going to need friends to start collecting NOW and to store the STUFF at their homes. Then on the date we select we need those friends to bring the STUFF down to the Irish Centre. My car just will not be big enough.

I have been planning to sell my vast collection of vinyl records - 4,000 + Instead of selling it I will donate it to the stall. If we advertise this in advance I know many people will come along just to get records.

Milton Keynes COULD solve its homeless problem if it got its act together. When I say Milton Keynes I am not talking about the council but YOU and ME - society, the people of Milton Keynes. Until we get our act together we need Milton Keynes Winter Night Shelter and others to provide the first aid.

Being homeless and rough sleeping is NOT the illness, it is only a symptom. Until people understand this the medical support, to use the metaphor, can not take over from the first aid.

When Dale May produced this video Josh and I were proud to help promote it.

Here's another video for you to watch.

Where Cliff is skating through an underpass that is where Tent City is now located !

So could we make this work ?


MILTON KEYNES IRISH CENTRE - is this OK with you ?

MAYOR'S OFFICE - could our Mayor pop by ?  If so which date would best suit his diary ?


Can we do this ?

To conclude let me share another anecdote with you.

Early one morning I went into a branch of McDonald's for breakfast, McDonald's right on the waterfront of San Francisco. Staff had allowed rough-sleepers to spend the night inside the restaurant. As friends were waking up McDonald's was serving them breakfast. No rush, no hurry they could eat and leave when they were ready. COULD YOU IMAGINE ANY BRANCH OF McDONALD'S IN MILTON KEYNES DOING THAT ?

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