Author - Stuart | YLF


McDonald’s is delighted to welcome Mark Lancaster MP to its Xscape restaurant on Monday 19 February for the first in a series of drop in sessions for constituents. The drop-in session will run from 10.30am – 11.30am, and the local community are invited to pop in and “Meet with Mark”.

The series of drop-in sessions are aimed at encouraging the Milton Keynes North community to interact with their local MP, whether it is just for a chat, or to try and resolve any issues or concerns a constituent may have. Sessions will also take place in June and November, with dates announced closer to the time.

Mark commented, “One of the most rewarding roles as a Member of Parliament, is to meet my constituents and listen to any concerns they may have. Thanks to Ken and his team, I have a fantastic opportunity to reach many more people to offer my support and where I can, work towards a positive outcome.”

Ken Tomkins, owner of local franchise Kaizen Restaurants which operates five of the restaurants in Milton Keynes, commented “We have a great relationship with Mark, which goes back many years. This was recently cemented when he visited our Xscape restaurant for a tour, and got the chance to make his own Big Mac!”

“It is a real pleasure to develop this partnership through “Meet with Mark”, and we hope residents of Milton Keynes North, his constituency, will find this a useful tool for raising any issues they may have, or just as a way to get to know their local MP a little better. We hope to see plenty of local faces on Monday 19 February!”

To stay up to date with events such as these, follow Kaizen Restaurants on Facebook and Twitter by searching “KaizenMcDsMK”. You can find Mark on Facebook and Twitter too by searching “Mark Lancaster MK”.

intu Milton Keynes continues support for independent retailers

Following the success of the intu Milton Keynes Artisan Market and the Etsy Made Local market in 2017, local independent traders are being invited back to intu Milton Keynes for a series of seasonally inspired artisan markets in the centre.

intu Milton Keynes, in partnership with the Etsy Milton Keynes team, will be kicking off 2018 with its first artisan market on 3 March, just in time for Mother’s Day. Selling a variety of gifts and handmade products, it will be located on the boulevard near to Pret and Gap.

Artisan markets will also be popping up in the centre on Saturday 9 June and 29 September, plus there is potential for another Etsy Made Local market to come to the centre again, near to Christmas!

Kirsty McGiff, marketing manager at intu Milton Keynes said, “Last year’s Artisan Market and Etsy Made Local Market were hugely successful, and our shoppers have said they would love to see more! With that in mind, we have worked closely with some of the organisers from the Etsy market in 2017 to create three Artisan Markets and hopefully, another Etsy Made Local Market in the first few days of December.”

If you are interested in taking part in any of the three Artisan Markets or would like further detail on the Christmas Etsy Made Local market, please contact Sellers do not have to be an Etsy seller to take part in the three Artisan Markets, but sellers do have to be independent and sell locally designed, handmade, upcycled or vintage items. The centre cannot, unfortunately, accept independent sellers who sell mass-produced items, items bought from trade shows or imported goods to resell.


Mark Lancaster MP is supporting a year-long programme of events organised by the UK Parliament to mark 100 years since the 1918 Representation of the People Act, which gave all men and some women the vote for the first time.

The Vote 100 programme includes a wide range of events and activities commemorating the women and men who fought to achieve electoral equality.

The Representation of the People Act extended the right to vote to all men over 21 and the first women, making this one of the most important centenaries in British democratic history.

Throughout the year there will be a major exhibition in Parliament – “Voice and Vote” – as well as an exciting programme of talks and tours in Parliament. There will also be a number of UK-wide events, such as EqualiTeas and UK Parliament Week 2018.

Schools and community groups in Milton Keynes are encouraged to get involved in debating and celebrating this important anniversary in our democracy.

Mark said: “The Representation of the People Act 1918 was a vital step towards the rights women have today, and the centenary of the Act is an incredibly important opportunity for us to reflect on how far we have come, thanks to the extreme bravery and sacrifice of the women who fought and in some cases died for equality.

“Whether it’s chatting about the issues over a cup of tea, or engaging with one of the many exciting events as part of this year’s UK Parliament Week, there are countless opportunities for schools and community groups across MK to get involved in this key anniversary.

“We all know that there is still more to do, and I look forward to working with people across MK to ensure we create an even more equal society.”

Olney Independent Shop Winner – Flipping Fantastic!

The winner of the Olney Independent Shop of the Year 2017 competition has been announced. Congratulations to the Olney Pancake Parlour!

The competition organised by local MP Mark Lancaster took place over December and January with 650 votes cast.

Opening their doors in May 2016, the Olney Pancake Parlour raced ahead to become a firm favourite in the last few days of voting.

The competition was an opportunity for shoppers to appreciate the individuality, the level of personal service and sense of community on offer in Olney high street. It is also important not to forget the role the high street plays in generating jobs and boosting the local economy.

On sharing the news with the Donaldson family, Mark commented, “What a fitting winner for Olney, bearing in mind the Pancake Race started here and has been a tradition since 1445! I’m delighted that this new family run business has been able to thrive and we can now enjoy pancakes throughout the year and not just on race day.”

intu Milton Keynes Green Gym is a huge success

This week the intu Milton Keynes Green Gym volunteers were out around the city creating hedgehog houses for the prickly residents of Milton Keynes, as part of their weekly mission to get people exercising whilst out and about!

Last year, the intu Milton Keynes Green Gym was launched in partnership with the shopping centre, intu Milton Keynes, and the Milton Keynes Council which has lead to dozens of volunteers giving up their time to take part.

TCV, the community volunteering charity, have worked with intu for ten years to restore and enhance green spaces up and down the country through the Green Gym initiatives. The programme offers volunteers the chance to take part in practical nature conservation sessions whilst also improving their health and wellbeing.

Emma Eteen, the Project Officer for the intu Milton Keynes Green Gym, has arranged some fantastic events so far which the community have loved getting involved with. This includes planting bulbs in public gardens and outdoor spaces around the city centre, planting flowers which will ensure the bee population thrives this spring, as well as clearing outdoor spaces so they can be enjoyed by members of the public.

Kirsty McGiff, intu Milton Keynes marketing manager said, “The Green Gym has been a huge success so far and thank you to Emma and all those involved who have been pushing the programme. Also, a huge thank you to all volunteers who have given up their time to make the outdoor spaces of Milton Keynes even more beautiful for people to enjoy.”

All abilities are welcome to join the intu MK Green Gym and to find out what they have planned next, visit their Facebook page for full details.

Milton Keynes homeless charity provides warmth during winter

Instead of sending Christmas cards to its clients this year, Interdirect opted to continue its fundraising efforts for the homeless people within our community. With the 25 mile challenge walk raising more than £6,000 for a new homelessness ‘City Fund’ back in September 2017, we were chuffed to raise a further £1,010 for Winter Night Shelter Milton Keynes (WNSMK), just by asking our friends and clients to sacrifice a small Christmas treat in aid of homelessness.

Managing Director, Nicholas Mann and Senior PR Account Manager, Anne Walsh, were keen to find out more about the work of the Winter Night Shelter and volunteered to help out and see first-hand where the money we raised will be spent. Here’s what they told us:

The Winter Night Shelter Milton Keynes (WNSMK) does so much more than offer a roof over the heads of the homeless in our City, it’s a place where everyone is equal, where nothing is too much trouble and where lives can be changed.

As soon as we walked through the door there was a welcoming and friendly atmosphere, we were greeted by Phil and Adrian, just two of the many volunteers who go above and beyond to support the good work of WNSMK. After a cuppa and a brief chat with the six other volunteers about what to expect, the minibus with mattresses and bedding arrived for us to turn a church hall in Netherfield into a safe, warm and dry refuge for the night.

Not long after that we welcomed the nine guests who were booked in to stay that night. The shelter can accommodate up to 15, however, there are rules around drinking alcohol, and apparently there was one person that had unfortunately broken those. “It’s a real shame when that happens,” Phil told us, “It’s a guy we know well and he’s been making really good progress, so it is hard to hear that he’s not been let in. But he knows the rules, so he hasn’t helped himself.”

The guests were welcomed like old friends coming over for dinner, there were hugs, high fives, and handshakes, before they were offered tea, coffee or a glass of water with a biscuit.

Sarah was the cook for the night, she told us that she’d had some help with peeling the spuds from her three children earlier in the evening. A dinner of sausage, mash, veg and onion gravy was served at 8pm and all of the guests and volunteers ate together. After a quick tidy up from the main course, a fruit crumble and custard followed, which went down very well.

Over dinner, we chatted about the struggles that many of the guys are facing and the work being done, not just at the Winter Night Shelter itself, but also through its welfare teams, to try to help them get back on track. Phil told us: “The simple fact is that there is not enough affordable housing in Milton Keynes. Some of the guys we’re supporting are working, but it’s really hard to hold down a job and keep on the right path when you’ve got nowhere to live.”

“We had a 70 year old chap here the other week, he’s been in the UK for almost 10 years, but because he hasn’t got the correct paperwork he can’t get housing, it’s awful.” Continues Phil.

After dinner, many of the guests enjoy some TV in a separate room, although some are just keen to get their heads down.

“We tend to do ‘lights out’ at around 10/10:30ish”, explains Phil “and we have three volunteers who stay overnight to supervise. They will then do the breakfasts in the morning, it really is a team effort.”

The whole evening was a truly humbling experience, we will certainly be continuing to support and raise funds for this amazing charity and all of its volunteers, who give so much to help those less fortunate than themselves.

If you would like to find out more about WNSMK, to volunteer or to donate, please visit, or search Winter Night Shelter MK on Facebook.

YMCA Milton Keynes calls on people to help the homeless

YMCA Milton Keynes is calling on local people to help the homeless by supporting Sleep Easy 2018. This is a national campaign run by YMCAs across the UK to raise awareness of the growing problem of youth homelessness and to raise funds for local YMCAs, so that they can continue their work with formerly homeless young adults.

Sleep Easy Milton Keynes will take place on Friday 16th March in Fred Roche Gardens, immediately behind The Church of Christ the Cornerstone. YMCA Milton Keynes is inviting supporters to sleep out overnight in a small tent, or under cardboard, to briefly experience what it is like not to have a bed and a roof over your head.

People who want to take part are asked to pre-register by going to and searching for ‘YMCA Milton Keynes Sleep Easy 2018’ – or by contacting YMCA Milton Keynes on 01908 295600.

“We have seen a growing number of homeless people sleeping out in Central Milton Keynes and other parts of the borough. But the street homeless are just the visible tip of a much larger problem that is disproportionately affecting young people”, said YMCA Milton Keynes chief executive, Simon Green

“There are young people sleeping in cars, sofa surfing or living in unsafe situations where, for example, they may be subject to physical or sexual assault – but have nowhere else to go. Last year YMCA was contacted by over 1,000 young people – but we were only able to directly help some 350,” said Simon.

But having a bed and a safe place to stay is just the start for many of the young people who approach YMCA. Many suffer poor mental health as a direct result of the trauma they have had to face. Others will have had a disrupted education and may not have been able to secure stable employment.

YMCA Milton Keynes works with its residents to make them feel valued – to give them a sense of belonging and purpose in life. The formerly homeless young adults learn independent living skills while living in the hostel before graduating to the flats, where they can put these skills into practice. There are activity programmes designed to improve physical and mental health – YMCA Milton Keynes has its own mental health practitioner, funded by a grant from Milton Keynes Community Foundation, available to provide support and counselling to people who need it. And YMCA staff help residents attain basic educational qualifications and seek out training and employment opportunities.

“We want our residents to move on as confident individuals, with a job and a home,” said Simon, “but this takes time and resources – and as we have seen demand for our services increase we have also seen our funding reduce – so every pound we can raise through Sleep Easy will be vital to us and, more importantly, the young people we support.”

New Parliamentary Group Launched to Promote New Towns

A new group made up of MPs, Peers and industry professionals has been set up to promote the successes of New Towns in Parliament.

The group had its launch reception on Wednesday night with the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid in attendance.

Milton Keynes South MP Iain Stewart who is the Vice-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) is hopeful they can influence government, he said:

“New Towns like Milton Keynes are facing big challenges as they come of age. We have out grown our planned size both in terms of population and footprint, that has consequences for infrastructure. People living in Milton Keynes or other New Towns are not anti-growth, but they do want an Infrastructure before Expansion, I before E, led approach.

“Hopefully this group clan play a role in addressing those challenges as we move forward.”

Dr Wei Yang, a leading town planner focusing on New and Garden Towns and a Trustee of the MK Discovery Centre has also joined the group as a supporter. She commented:

“As we are about to enter a new era of Garden Towns and Villages across the UK and especially along the East-West corridor, we need to make sure the Government takes on board the lessons learned from developing the first generation of new towns, and adapts best practices internationally of delivering 21st Century new towns.

“I am delighted to be working with Iain and other members of the group. I believe there is a lot it can achieve.”

The APPG is being run by the Town and Country Planning Association who will be setting up a series of events in 2018, to find out more visit:

Well chuffed! intu Milton Keynes’ train to remain following success with shoppers

Shoppers at intu Milton Keynes will be ‘well chuffed’ to learn that the hugely popular Christmas Express train will be staying in the shopping centre, until at least the summer.

Launched at the start of the festive period, the little locomotive has taken over 4,000 children and parents around intu Milton Keynes on a magical journey down the boulevard, past the ‘frog clock’, around Oak Court and back again. Now, due to popular demand, the centre management are delighted to announce that the train, now called the intu MK Express’ will continue offering its service until at least the summer.

Kirsty McGiff, marketing manager at intu Milton Keynes said: “This was the first year we introduced the train and the response has been phenomenal, even the video on social media has had nearly half a million views.  We’re delighted to be able to continue running this great service for our customers and hope to add a new theme to it as we go throughout the year.”

The intu MK Express costs £2.50 per person or £6 for three people and the station is located between Chopstix and Starbucks. The service runs seven days a week from 10am.

MP and a Big Mac!

Donning a very distinctive uniform and a personalised name badge, Mark Lancaster MP accepted the challenge of making his very own Big Mac on a visit to McDonald’s at Xscape last week.

Mark was invited to try his hand at burger making by Ken Tomkins of Kaizen Restaurants Ltd, a franchisee of McDonald’s in Milton Keynes.

Ken has been a franchisee since 2011 and is passionate about Milton Keynes and the environment in which we live.  In addition to operating his five stores, he and his team of over 500 local individuals initiate a variety of events and activities to support the local community, including the popular Love Where You Live and Coffee With A Copper programmes.

Mark commented, “Having visited the Xscape restaurant some four years ago, I was truly amazed by the changes “back of house”.  The kitchen has the latest “Experience of the Future” technology, and it was evident that Ken has a dedicated team who are very proud to be associated with the brand and enjoy the many opportunities on offer to progress their careers.”