Written by Melani Beck
As well as supporting the businesses within Milton Keynes Business Improvement District, MyMiltonKeynes has always had the local community at the heart of its many projects and initiatives. So, when the world was hit by an international pandemic, the small central Milton Keynes team was quick to demonstrate “we’re here to help!”
Now, three weeks into lockdown, with the majority of staff furloughed, Chief Executive, Melanie Beck knew she needed to provide leadership and reposition the BID in order to meet the many needs of the local community.
“Since the government announced lockdown, I have been in communication, as a trusted partner, with Milton Keynes Council, CMK Town Council, Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Milton Keynes Hospital Charity. It quickly became apparent that one of the most valuable services we could provide was support with deliveries, through repurposing our MyMiltonKeynes employee buses and public realm vehicle, and we’ve been using them during lockdown for a number of critical deliveries.
“Milton Keynes Hospital has received an additional 40-50 eye shields every day, thanks to the amazing work of a kind volunteer, who owns a 3D printer and is single-handedly producing much needed additional PPE for the NHS. I have been collecting and delivering this vital PPE every morning to the hospital for doctors, nurses and support staff, in order to keep them as safe and protected as possible, as they treat those with the worst symptoms of Covid-19.”
“As well as PPE, I worked with Milton Keynes Council to deliver food parcels for those ‘most at risk’ in the community, including those currently undergoing chemotherapy, those with severe allergies and anyone with special dietary requirements, as well as delivering medication to individuals who are currently ‘shielded’. Each parcel is specially prepared by the Council to meet the unique needs of members of the community, right across Milton Keynes. All I had to do was pick them up and deliver them all over the Borough.
Whilst out delivering to the community, I heard many stories of the impact of social isolation on mental wellbeing and wanted to do something to raise a smile, particularly over Easter weekend.
“The Food Bank parcels over Easter week included a little Easter treat, which we’d initially intended to support a BID bus promotion, not allowing COVId-19 to de-rail her plans she set out to use these time pressured assets and delivered these to care homes and vulnerable
individuals, to help them feel less isolated and to remind them that they were more connected to the wider community over Easter.”
On Easter Saturday I decided to extended the deliveries, reaching out to the Police Station in CMK and even accosting four unmarked police vehicles taking a well-earned break at a service station in Kingston , the local keyworkers at Great Holm fire station and the hospital nursing staff were all recipients of her sweet Easter treats
One of the most rewarding things I undertook was to make a return visit to a sheltered housing community in Bletchley on VE Day. As all events and activities were cancelled the Proactive Care Manager had encouraged her residents to sit on the front lawn, socially distanced of course. I spent a rewarding morning singing war songs and handing out ice lollies to the residents. Many of whom had not seen their families since early March.
During this time and using a variety of local networks she ensured that anything she was able to assist with and using the resources and assets of MyMiltonKeynes was activated and hearing that a local gym, Energie Fitness based in Kiln Farm were reaching out to the community for personal toiletry items for healthcare workers care packs she made contact and delivered over 200 MyMiltonKeynes lip salves left over from the Midnight Moo.
As lockdown progressed, I have continued to deliver PPE to hospitals and sadly body bags as far away as Birmingham. This latter role having come to my notice when I was made aware that courier firms were unable to deliver from one of Milton Keynes’s businesses specialising in personal protection supplies. I continue to ensure that although my staff are on furlough that the MyMiltonKeynes BID continues to do as much as possible to assist the local effort.
On Thursday 21st May, I was delighted to attend the 8 pm Clap for Carers at the Milton Keynes Hospital. Our Christmas Decoration supplier who usually decorates the streets of CMK in November installed a beautifully lit ‘Thank You to our NHS Workers’ at the main entrance to the hospital. A small token of appreciation from CMK based Businesses to our NHS Heroes.