Milton Keynes Community Boat News May 2020

Welcome to the first Monthly Newsletter from the Milton Keynes Community Boat. This edition gives an update on what’s happened in March and April.

Impact of coronavirus

Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust Board issued the following guidelines in April:

B&MK Waterway Trust, BMKWEL (the trading company) and the John Bunyan and MK Boat operational teams must suspend all activities involving direct contact with each other or the wider public, other than essential asset maintenance. All meetings, where still considered essential, to be conducted virtually, either online, via telephone conferences or appropriate IT based mechanisms. All cruises, training and related activities suspended from 20th March. Chairs of the Trust, BMKWEL, and operational teams to keep matters under review.

The MKCB Management Team now meets monthly online. A lot of actions have had to go on hold, but we’re moving things on wherever we can.

Funding and Specification

We believe that funding is now secure, although this is still not 100% certain, and the Trust is awaiting final confirmation. The specification of the boat is now agreed so the project is ready to go, just as soon as we get the green light on funding. The boatbuilders had closed for several weeks, but are now back at work, using all the government guidelines for safe working practices. Watch this space!

Marketing

We now have a page on the Trust website. We are building-up a media contact list so that, once we can commission the boat, we will be able to run a five-month good news story about the progress of the build. We have a twitter profile and a facebook page ready and we will kickstart our social media presence once we have a definite project timeline to work to. In the meantime, we’re developing a Welcome Card for new Campbell Wharf residents and we have a Volunteers Wanted! poster ready to be put up locally.

Sales

With the help of MKCB volunteers walking and googling, we are identifying a range of different-length trips going both north and south, mostly starting from Campbell Wharf, but also investigating possible pick up points elsewhere that will enable us to serve local communities within the city. We’re undertaking pricing structure comparisons with the John Bunyan in Bedford and with a number of other 12-seater community boats across the country. We’ve been looking at how to make online ticketing as simple as possible, for both public cruises and charters; and we’re looking at the catering offers that work best and investigating how to provide these. We plan to have some draft sales propositions to discuss and test from July.

Training

Denise and Christian Taylor now have their NCBA Certificates in Community Boat Management. They’ve been busy arranging for their own boat to be used as our training vessel – including making a ‘training room’ in the saloon complete with large screen TV! They have also been developing detailed training plans and a draft Safety Management System that all crew will need to follow.

There is preparation for training that boat crew can do at home, and Denise and Christian will be sending out a Training News about this shortly. Gill Herd, Volunteering Lead, will also be contacting crew in May with a survey to help us plan the best days/times for training …. which we can then apply as soon as we have a launch date and permission to meet in small groups. Watch this space!

Land-based volunteers wanted!

Even though we can’t meet, there’s lots that can be done flexibly at home, with virtual meetings when needed. MKCB is currently looking for volunteers with the following skills and interests – please contact jane.wolfson@mkcommunityboat.org if you are interested, or pass this information on to other people you know.

Volunteers for one-off tasks, who:

  • have market research skills to help evaluate cruise options
  • can write good recruitment ads for ongoing volunteer roles
  • can research low-cost minibus services to enable us to plan one-way trips
  • have with contacts/experience with students age 17+, to research summer work experience options to fill Jul/Aug crew gaps

Ongoing volunteer roles:

  • PR Officer to reach out to new markets/funders
  • Graphic designer to help with print and publicity web items
  • Business Liaison Officer to develop business customer base
  • Community Groups Liaison Officer to develop community customer base
  • Education Liaison Officer with relevant background to develop services for schools
  • Purchasing Officer to liaise with BMKWEL and Trust Finance Directors
    Management Team members: Chair, Leads for Sales, Skippers, Maintenance

News from the Trust

Trust Directors gave an excellent update presentation at our last public meeting (9th March) and we will revisit this when activity levels return to normal. In the meantime, the Trust is focusing on maintaining three live projects: Head of Navigation at Kempston, Milton Keynes Community Boat, and Marking the Route with new information boards in Milton Keynes.

BMWKEL, and its two Operations Teams, into the Trust structure. Trust Director John Best will chair BMKWEL and James Clifton (MKCB Cabin Ops Lead) and Jane Wolfson (MKCB Acting Chair) have been appointed to the BMKWEL Board, with a third vacancy to be filled from MKCB as our team develops.The Trust has reorganised to better integrate its trading company
The Trust AGM will be held ‘on paper’ this year but the Newsletter will continue as usual. The Trust’s new website will be up and running by the summer, giving a good overview of all aspects of its work.

And finally … We’ll Meet Again in 2020

Local choir MusicaMK has created a virtual version of We’ll Meet Again, with lockdown lyrics to help us all keep smiling through, to raise awareness of the Milton Keynes Covid-19 Emergency Response Appeal supporting local people most in need. The video launches today on YouTube and Facebook – please take a look. And in the meantime, even if we don’t yet know where or when … we do know that MKCB will meet again!

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