Press Release from Refugees Welcome Milton Keynes

On Saturday 20th June 2020 a new commemorative pillar was unveiled at the Milton Keynes Rose to Celebrate World Refugee Day. It was unveiled by the Mayor, Councilor Andrew Geary. He said that he is proud to represent a diverse city that welcomes those in need.

The pillar has been installed with help from the Milton Keynes Community Foundation and the Cenotaph Trust.

“Milton Keynes Community Foundation are proud to have supported the development of the new pillars at the Milton Keynes Rose”, Chief Executive Ian Revell said; ‘The Pillar recognises the growing population of refugees who are establishing their lives within Milton Keynes and enriching our city immeasurably.”

The Milton Keynes Cenotaph Trust welcomes the new inscription, World Refugee Day encourages us all to take the time to think about the millions of displaced people around the world who have been forced to flee their homes due to war, conflict and persecution. Covid-19 poses an additional layer of threat and risk. Chair Debbie Brock said; “We can demonstrate our welcome to refugees in our community on World Refugee Day commemorating the strength, courage and perseverance of refugees globally”.

Five years ago, the Council voted unanimously to welcome refugees from the Syrian conflict. Milton Keynes has received ninety-eight people as part of an international effort. There are many other refugees and asylum seekers in the city who have come from all all over the world. The British Red Cross currently have 374 clients with 460 dependent beneficiaries. 60% are female, and 40% are male.

Chair of the charity Refugees Welcome MK, and Area Dean, Revd Tim Norwood, said, “We have been listening to the voices of refugees and asylum seekers in Milton Keynes. They tell us about problems in accessing services, and many struggle with digital poverty — no technology for services or education for children.”

Refugees Welcome MK has launched a new project to improve the access of refugees and asylum seekers to the internet: it has kick-started a local Working Group on Digital Poverty in MK which will partner with local companies and fundraisers to obtain emergency renovated laptops with short-term internet access and much-needed training to assist the neediest individuals in the current crisis.

Revd Tim Norwood says: “We celebrate the fact that this pillar has been installed at the MK Rose, and we are encouraged by the new initiatives that have emerged – even during the Lockdown. We will be back at the Rose next year to see what progress has been made – and to remind people in our city that Welcome should always be at the heart of our community.”

“As it says on the pillar: People from around the world have helped build this city – Milton Keynes welcomes refugees. We hope these words will be written on our hearts, not just on stone.”

Watch the video of the unveiling: