“Architects and planners made the skeleton, but it’s people who have made Milton Keynes what it is today. I hope that in my work over the years I have helped just a little to enable the creation of our thriving community”.
Roger Kitchen joined the Development Corporation’s Social Development Department in 1971. (This team was inspired by Chair Jock Campbell to avoid ‘New Town Blues’). As a community worker, Roger helped people settle into the first new estates in Milton Keynes. He assisted them to set up and run a wide range of voluntary and community groups. These ranged from sporting clubs to mum and tots’ groups, from lunch clubs for older people to health support groups, from community arts organisations to residents’ associations. He and other community workers helped people to facilitate their activities by applying for Minor Amenity and capital Major Amenity grants from the Development Corporation. In essence his work was to encourage and support local residents to play a role in developing a sense of community and belonging in their new neighbourhoods. Today the voluntary and community sector is flourishing, with a higher than national average number of groups in Milton Keynes than elsewhere. Roger’s enthusiasm for listening to and recording people’s stories led him and a colleague in 1984 to establish the Living Archive which used those reminiscences as the inspiration for arts and education projects including large-scale musical documentary plays, books, radio documentaries, dance, textiles and websites. Roger was its first General Manager and has recently become its Chair. He is currently involved in 2 interviewing and recording the lives of the ‘Founders’ of Milton Keynes, so that future generations will have a record of the people who helped create our history.