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The power of creating a platform for charities

MKBLP members have been working together to provide £50,000 worth of funding and support so far for MK Food Bank. But the charity, like so many others, needs business support more than ever. MKBLP chairman Nicholas Mann explains.

EVERY YEAR, through the Milton Keynes Business Achievement Awards, a light is shone on businesses across the city. We come together to celebrate success, applaud entrepreneurialism, innovation and inspire a legion of others to enter the awards over subsequent years.

What we do not always see or hear about is the ripples of support and ensuing collaborations many months after scooping one of the coveted MKBAA awards can yield. That was until Louisa Hobbs, MK Food Bank’s operations manager, spoke at a Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership event and highlighted the massive wave of time, support and funding which followed MK Food Bank’s triumph in the Charity of the Year category at MKBAA 2022 pictured above.

The cause of MK Food Bank was elevated to a larger audience, she said, and not just to the 600-plus people who filled the room at Stadium MK. The word spread far and wide among our strong business networks.

A subsequent speaking event at a MKBLP breakfast just a few months later and the plight of MK Food Bank – and Louisa’s growing concern for the people of Milton Keynes in the wake of soaring demand for the charity’s services amidst the alarming cost of living crisis – reached all corners of our business community.

The impact which followed the MKBAA Charity of the Year award win and the subsequent introduction to MKBLP was significant.

Nicholas Mann, chair of Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership: Businesses continue to step up to support MK Food bank and other charities. But, he says, we cannot become complacent.

Through direct funding and in-kind support from members, MK Food Bank has received, or is set to receive, around £50,000. This funding alone could cover the operation costs of the Food Bank – including keeping vans operating and paying for staff and bills – for one quarter of the year. Or it could enable 3,000 people to receive food parcels or select items from the charity’s top-up shop.

It has not only been donations of food or funding from businesses, though. Many pledged their support in other ways which has made a significant difference to the running of the Food Bank. Web design agency Red Giraffe has built a brand new website for free and continues to offer ongoing support, which is saving MK Food Bank thousands of pounds in costs, along with valuable training.

Along with paying the fuel costs of the Food Bank’s vehicles every month, The Holiday Inn Central Milton Keynes held a recipe competition for schools and the winning dish was made up into recipe packs which are available through the charity’s top-up shop.

As well as donating food every month, regional law firm Howes Percival teamed up with friends at chartered accountants Mercer and Hole, connectivity provider AFL Hyperscale, Milton Keynes College, All Things Business and specialist care provider PJ Care to walk 25 miles for the Food Bank, raising an incredible £10,300.

A meeting with Angie Novell, chief executive of fellow charity MK Snap, has led to a long-term collaboration which supports both charities. Swedish bank Handelsbanken’s team in Milton Keynes  operates a corporate driving rota for the mobile top-up shop and quickly reacted by heading straight to the shops to buy food when the Food Bank hit a crisis in March and emergency packs ran out.

These are just some examples of how MKBLP members and other businesses continue to step up and support MK Food Bank.

Of course, we cannot become complacent. The recent shocking reports in the national media about Food Bank use in the UK – from news that the military are now relying on food parcels as the cost of living continues to bite to the fact that 90 per cent of UK food banks are at risk of turning people away due to the ever increasing numbers of people turning to them – demonstrates the growing reliance many have on these charities.

I am also aware of other worthy charities across the city working hard every day to support those who need help within our community and beyond and the fantastic support which is offered to them by local organisations.

However, we can not take away from the power of creating a platform for these organisations and I am delighted that both MKBAA and MKBLP provided that platform for MK Food Bank.

When Louisa Hobbs stepped up in front of MKBLP members during a breakfast event at Bletchley Park last summer, she recognised perhaps two or three faces. 12 months on, it is a different story. In the intervening time she has met so many members and their teams and created fantastic connections which have developed into incredibly impactful partnerships which continues to support MK Food Bank today.

  • MK Food Bank is set to launch an exciting, new initiative – MK CAN – which aims to mobilise the entire Milton Keynes Community, and support the thousands of households in crisis, by breaking the Guinness World Record for the longest continuous line of cans of food.

Currently standing at just over 90,000,  MK Food Bank hopes to smash the record with an ambitious target of a 10km line, equating to more than 130,000 tins. The charity has called for businesses, community groups and parish councils to each adopt a section. To find out more, email admin@mkfoodbank.org.uk

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