A new nest for magpie minis

Even before lockdown we were fast outgrowing Forest Lane Lodge.

We do not have sole use of the building, which means that we were setting up and breaking down the equivalent of a full nursery provision each time we opened.

That, alongside not having enough storage for our donations or a private area for our minis to play safely means that things were stretched.

Our irreplaceable professional partners who descend on our building to meet mums where they feel safe and supported often found themselves squatting on the floor, working on a chair in the playroom, taking case notes on the roundabout – making do.

Then lockdown happened…..

Our staff numbers doubled, the number of mums and minis we are supporting at any given time also doubled and a half (Grew by 150%?)

All these factors are adding up to the inevitable and unsettling conclusion that – to quote the classic film – we are going to need a bigger boat.

The good news

There is a great building very close by which is vacant. It is a five minute walk from the Lodge so even if a professional, a volunteer or a vulnerable mum comes to the old building it won’t be far to get to the new one. Other massive positives are:

  • There will be SO much more space,
  • We will have sole use of the building. We will have a garden all to ourselves to grow flowers, veg and children,
  • Our minis will have a private, safe space (indoor and out) to play,
  • We will have capacity inside to invite all of our beloved professional partners such as LBWP, Health Visitors, Family Support workers, Shelter advisers, Beauticians, Reiki practitioners, dance artists, artists, theatre practitioners to come, spread out and do their thing.

We are also hoping that the space will allow for a:

  • Laundrette
  • Cafe/cooking collective
  • Community garden
  • Digital hub
  • Advice space, but most important of all
  • Chatting, play and chaos and creating minis’ memories and mums’ belonging.

We could also imagine the wider community using the space for:

  • Hot desking,
  • Birthday parties,
  • Evening classes, etc.

The not so good news

It’s a building that has been squatted in. It is in a terrible state and it is not 100% clear what state it will be in if we get possession.

To make the building what we dream it could be for our families we would need:

  • Corporate or community groups to volunteer to clear the building
  • Corporate or community groups to volunteer to clean and paint
  • Specialist builders/developers to help with repairs
  • Gardeners/landscape artists to help create a beautiful outdoor space
  • Interior designers to help us imagine an amazing and magical place where mums and minis are centered
  • Furniture/office suppliers to help us kit the place out
  • Kitchen suppliers to help us create a beautiful collective cooking space, or
  • The money to pay for any of the above that we cannot beg or borrow in-kind.

So here’s where we need your help

We know we ask a lot of you, our beautiful, bountiful community. And here we are asking again, after a year where we have all given more than we ever thought possible. But – you know – it’s just so important to show up for our most vulnerable children and mothers. The brilliant thing is that with a little time and generosity we can, together, make something really beautiful and meaningful happen.

What can you pledge?

We feel as though we need to get an idea of whether our dreams are possible. We know – from the amazing support we have had in the past year – that there are many, many of you who help us, answer our call-outs, come to our aid. But before we take this on, it would be great to have the reassurance that a few of you may be on board to help again.

If you are interested in helping us give our mums and minis a safe, beautiful space to heal, learn and thrive please fill in the pledge form below.

If – hopefully when – we sign a lease, we will get back to you and see if you are still up for it. Then we will get it done and have the biggest thank you party Newham has ever seen!

Thank you so much, as always, for being there for our families. We will be in touch, hopefully with good news and a call to action as soon as we can.


Thank you Ruth

Our beloved social work student closed the doors on her placement today. She came to us in the middle of the Covid chaos – but despite this, she has approached every person, every task, every opportunity with love, curiosity and a wonderful instinct for how to keep people safe, how to make sure people feel comfortable and a really wicked sense of humour.

This is what she told us about her placement:

I have been immensely honoured to have had the opportunity to work with The Magpie Project.

Thank you for embracing and enriching me with the experience of impacting society, one family at a time! 

My soul is richer with satisfaction for having been a part of the life-changing, opportunity-making, dignity-restoring, empowerment machine that is THE MAGPIE PROJECT! 

You have all readily shared your knowledge with me, and I hold all I have learned dear to use now and ​in the future. Thank you for contributing towards my professional development. In many ways, I have developed as a person too, such as my capacity to empathise. 

I am ever so glad to have started my practice journey with the Project as it enabled me to see need without any barriers and certainly to think of ways in which this need could be met.  I am sure this training has enhanced my ability to think creatively regarding alternatives to service provision. 

I have seen the resilience of the human spirit; that people may be bruised by their ordeals, yet believe that tomorrow will get better. 

Ruth, Social Work Student

I’m convinced that the project plays a vital role in creating this belief; that you shine a beacon for all the mothers in your care, to trust in the possibility of positive change! That you empower these mothers to utilise their strengths; give them a voice! 

Thank you for enabling me to be a participant in this great experience.

Call out for babies and boobs

We are excited to be working alongside a committee of Newham, BME, Migrant or marginalised mums, Alternatives and the NCT to co-create a suite of support services around childbirth and parenthood.

In our initial workshops, our mums told us they felt let-down by a lack of early, as-and-when needed help. It meant they were not able to establish breastfeeding.

For many mums, feeling you’ve not had the support you need to breastfeed can trigger difficult emotions which are hard to come to terms with. For some of our mums who are living below the breadline, the expense of formula is potentially financially devastating.

So we are committed to giving as much support to breastfeeding as possible.

This is where you guys come in. We usually demonstrate with whatever is to hand – a toy octupus, miming and gesticulating at our own, or mums’ boobs – which you will probably agree is not the best thing!

So we were thinking it would be nice to have some woolly boobs and babies !

Can you knit or crochet us a boob – or a baby to help with our classes?

There are many great patterns online. We would love all sizes and skin tones. Please feel free to:

  1. knit a boob or a baby or two, make sure it is safe and easily washed.
  2. send it to
    The Magpie Project, knitting appeal.
    c/o Forest Lane Lodge,
    Forest Lane Park,
    Magpie Close
    E7 9DE
  3. Or get in touch with Jules to discuss what you will be knitting.
  4. If you don’t knit, buy us a doll – these are the best.
  5. If you want to support our work, donate money and we promise we will put it straight to work helping mums and minis.

Artist Matt Moser Clark launches HOME stool in support of The Magpie Project

We were absolutely over the moon when the incredible artist Matt Moser-Clark contacted us asking if we would like to be the beneficiary of his latest design: the HOME stool. A percentage of the sale price will help support our project.

His art is absolutely, achingly beautiful, and his view of the world is so feeling and unique. So we jumped at the generous offer.

Here’s what Matt says about HOME stool.

Home stool is a quiet object, it is unassuming and something easy. It works, it is a working object, it can be a table when it needs to be. It’s stable but movable, just like the feeling of home. It’s the extra seat at the table for the unexpected guest at dinner. It’s the single step-ladder or the mountain top for the inventing child. It’s there to take your weight and does not complain when you favour the armchair.
.
This stool is here to help you see that the space around it is home.

Matt Moser-Clark

Check out Matt’s Instagram here, and check in to his website to buy the stool.

NCT partnership way to support Newham’s new mums

A new community partnership will expand the support available for pregnant women and new mums experiencing financial hardship and disadvantage in Newham.

NCT, in partnership with Alternatives Trust East London¹, The Magpie Project and Compost London, has been awarded a £471,000 grant from the Government’s Health and Wellbeing fund.²

The new funding builds on NCT’s well-established Parents in Mind³ project in the borough, funded by Newham Clinical Commissioning Group, which provides trained peer support for women who are socially isolated or experiencing mental health difficulties.

The new partnership will expand support across the borough and offer antenatal education, breastfeeding support, counselling and family link services alongside the existing perinatal peer support service. The project has a strong focus on inclusion and support for pregnant women and new mums of Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, who experience significant inequalities in outcomes.

Bulon, a Bengali mum and peer supporter for Newham Parents in Mind, said: “There are many people in our community who have no-one to turn to due to language barriers, social issues or poor mental health who just need a friend to hear and understand them.”

Angela McConville, Chief Executive, NCT, said: “I’m delighted our partnership has been able to secure funding for this strong community approach. Together, we can ensure meaningful and impactful support for many more women experiencing significant challenges during pregnancy and early parenthood.

“At NCT we believe in the importance of antenatal and postnatal support for mental health and wellbeing. Our volunteer peer supporters already play an important role in reducing isolation, boosting mental health and supporting women to access services in Newham. This new partnership and community-led approach will further expand this support, and will help address the unacceptable inequalities experienced by Black, Asian and ethnic minority women.”

Jason Strelitz, Director of Public Health, London Borough of Newham, said: “Since inception, NCT has worked collaboratively with Newham’s maternity and Children’s Health Service, supporting partner agencies to connect with and support families. We deeply value the role that our voluntary and community sector partners play in meeting the needs of our community. We see NCT and their consortium of partners as a significant player in helping us realise our ambition to make Newham the best place for children and families.”

Elizabeth Booker, Director, Alternatives Trust East London, said: “Alternatives’ holistic and therapeutic work with vulnerable women around pregnancy and birth has shown us the extent of the unmet need for perinatal education and support in Newham. We are delighted to be collaborating with these excellent partners on this new project. It has the potential to make a huge impact on the wellbeing of women in our borough who do not currently have access to services and give their children a healthy and secure start in life.”

Jane Williams, CEO Founder, The Magpie Project, said: ‘We are over the moon to have the opportunity to work with NCT and local partners Alternatives and Compost London to bring vital perinatal services to mums from migrant or marginalised backgrounds. We are excited by the prospect of a bespoke, targeted and meaningful response to the specific barriers and challenges they face gaining support around childbirth and early motherhood.”

¹ Alternatives Trust East London is a charity that supports the wellbeing of women in east London, particularly around pregnancy and birth. It supports vulnerable new mothers: 98% are recent migrants, and 95% are from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. Over 80% of families that access Alternatives’ services are homeless. In 2019, Alternatives supported 121 women with 209 children through a combination of practical and therapeutic services.

The Magpie Project is a user-led charity helping women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness with children under five in east London. They support around 250 families a year, offering sessions for children including music, dance, and art. They provide practical support such as food banks, nappies, equipment, and professional support.

Compost London is a team which has been working in capacity building in East London’s voluntary community sector for many years. It will lead on evaluating the programme.

² The Health and Wellbeing Programme is a joint initiative by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Public Health England (PHE) and NHS England and NHS Improvement. It aims to enable them to work together with the Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector to promote equality, improve health inequalities and to help families and communities to achieve and maintain wellbeing.

³ Parents in Mind is a peer-support project run by NCT and funded by Newham Clinical Commissioning Group. Mums taking part showed a statistically significant reduction in anxiety and depression scores and reported feeling less isolated.

• 86% felt the programme helped them feel less isolated and alone
• 86% felt it helped them to know where to get help if they needed it
• 86% felt it provided someone they could talk to who understood them
• 74% felt it helped them to feel more hopeful about the future

We are over the moon to be accredited as a London Living Wage employer

The Magpie Project has today been accredited as a Living Wage Employer. Our Living Wage commitment means everyone working at the Magpie Project will receive a minimum hourly wage of £9.30 in the UK or £10.75 in London. Both rates are significantly higher than the government minimum wage for over-25s, which currently stands at £8.72 per hour.

The Magpie Project is based in London, a region where nearly a fifth of all jobs (19%) pay less than the real Living Wage – around 785,000 jobs. Despite this, The Magpie Project has committed to paying the real Living Wage and delivering a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work.

The real Living Wage is the only rate calculated according to the costs of living. It provides a voluntary benchmark for employers who wish to ensure their staff earn a wage they can live on, not just the government minimum. Since 2011, the Living Wage movement has delivered a pay rise to over 230,000 people and put over £1 billion extra into the pockets of low-paid workers.

Jane Williams, CEO, The Magpie Project said: “As a frontline charity tackling the effects of poverty in Newham, London, we were determined to become accredited as a London Living Wage Employer. We believe that as in-work poverty rises and so many in Newham are not paid enough to live on – paying a living wage is essential to supporting our community.”

Katherine Chapman, Director, Living Wage Foundation said: “We’re delighted that The Magpie Project has joined the movement of over 6000 responsible employers across the UK who voluntarily commit to go further than the government minimum to make sure all their staff earn enough to live on.”

“They join thousands of small businesses, as well as household names such as Burberry, Barclays, Chelsea and Everton Football Clubs, Lush, and many more. These businesses recognise that paying the real Living Wage is the mark of a responsible employer and they, like The Magpie Project, believe that a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.”

Media Contact

Jane.williams@themagpieproject.org

Notes to Editors

About the Living Wage

The real Living Wage is the only rate calculated according to what people need to make ends meet. It provides a voluntary benchmark for employers that choose to take a stand by ensuring their staff earn a wage that meets the costs and pressures they face in their everyday lives. 

The UK Living Wage is currently £9.30 per hour. There is a separate London Living Wage rate of £10.75 per hour to reflect the higher costs of transport, childcare and housing in the capital. These figures are calculated annually by the Resolution Foundation and overseen by the Living Wage Commission, based on the best available evidence on living standards in London and the UK.

The Living Wage Foundation is the organisation at the heart of the movement of businesses, organisations and individuals who campaign for the simple idea that a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay. The Living Wage Foundation receives guidance and advice from the Living Wage Advisory Council. The Foundation is supported by our principal partners: Aviva; IKEA; Joseph Rowntree Foundation; KPMG; Linklaters; Nationwide; Nestle; Resolution Foundation; Oxfam; Trust for London; People’s Health Trust; and Queen Mary University of London.

What about the Government’s national living wage?

In July 2015 the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that the UK Government would introduce a compulsory ‘national living wage’. This new government rate is a new minimum wage rate for staff over 25 years old. It was introduced in April 2016 and the rate is £8.21 per hour as of April 2019. The rate is different to the Living Wage rates calculated by the Living Wage Foundation.  The government rate is based on median earnings while the Living Wage Foundation rates are calculated according to the cost of living in London and the UK. 

All Our Children: Bethany Williams, Eno Mfon, Melissa Jarram, Somerset House

Today London-based designer Bethany Williams presented her SS21 collection celebrating the ethos of the Magpie Project which she has been volunteering for and collaborating with since 2019.

Bethany’s latest collection – aptly titled All Our Children – not only finds its inspiration in the stories and lives of the people she met and worked with with us, but also the importance of family spirit in a child’s life. Through the process of designing the collection, Bethany included the families that are part of the Project via drawing workshops and playtime, and then teamed up with illustrator and artist Melissa Kitty Jarram on transforming children’s drawings into prints and patterns that became part of the final textiles. “This is a true co-production with the Magpie community and it’s really validating for these women who have previously been disbelieved and unheard, marginalised and ignored to be valued and listened to at the highest level,” explains Jane. As always, 20% of the proceeds from the collection will go back to the Magpie Project.

“They say it takes a village to raise a child, And I say, we are that village and they are all our children.”

Eno Mfon ‘All Our Children’

Part of this outing is also a partnership with the Somerset House – Bethany and Melissa designed a flag that will be erected on top of the House in honour of All Our Children. In addition to the words, the vibrant design of a mother and child on the canvas references the Asafo flags of the Fante people in Ghana that traditionally symbolise warrior-like strength which is in this case assigned to the mothers of Magpie.

Instead of a catwalk show, Bethany worked on the visuals with her friend and photographer Ruth Ossai. Shot in accordance with the Covid-19 government guidelines in front of Magpie’s Newham offices, the lookbook photographs and film capture five families wearing the garments. The video is soundtracked with a poem specially written for this occasion by playwright and writer Eno Mfon. Powerful, moving and encouraging all of us to own up to our collective responsibility for the next generation, her words verbalise the mission of the collection and Bethany’s work at-large. “They say it takes a village to raise a child, And I say, we are that village and they are all our children.”

This collection is dedicated to the loving memory of Lisa Hoang and Elie Che.

Collection Credits

Creative Direction – Bethany Williams Director, Photographer & Filmmaker – Ruth Ossai

Photography assistants: Luke Ossai, Ryan Connolly

Film and Editing – Lorraine Khamali

Poet – Eno Mfon Stylist – Tallulah Harlech Illustrator– Melissa Kitty Jarram Casting – Chloe Rosolek Music Direction – Benji B MUA – Rebecca Davenport Knitwear – Alice Morell Evans Footwear – Adidas and Helen Kirkum

Corsets – Rosie Evans Bags – Stevan Saville Text – Dino Bonačić Communication – The Lobby London Production – Faye Scott-Maberley

Models – Stephanie, Khalani, King, Mariam, Mohammed, Mesk, Melaz, Kemi, Leo, William, AJ, Akuac

Supported by the Adonyeva Foundation

Special Thanks – The Magpie Project, Somerset House Trust, The British Fashion Council, Caroline Rush, Wool and the Gang, ISKO VITAL™+, Orto Print Studio, Molly Evans, Joseph Henry, Eric Williams, Karen Kewley, Natalie Hodgson.

Bethany Williams x The Magpie Project #AllOurChildren

Bethany Williams has not been idle during lockdown she formed a collective of designers and makers to keep hospitals supplied with scrubs during the height of the crisis. 

Find a photograph of yourself as a child, or a member of your chosen family, wearing a beloved outfit. Or get hold of a photo of the clothes you love dressing your own child in.

Attach it to an email and send it to: info@bethany-williams.com.

In the body of the email answer the following.

  1. Describe the details your of this outfit. What material is is made of? Who bought or made it for you? What date/year is the photo from?

4. Would you be happy for us to use this image publicly Yes/No

If No, we will keep your photograph private in our research collection only to assist with the design and development process.

A celebration

Bethany will be staging her show in September and would like to know, too, whether you have an specific food memories from childhood. A dish that your carer or parent used to make. 

If so share that with us too, so that we can see if we can cater to all our memories in the show celebration.

Be part of something incredible, dig out those photos today…..

 

 

 

 

Newham Mayor writes open letter about unsuitable accommodation provided by NASS and Clearsprings

Copyright: Laura Dodsworth. One Room Lockdown.

We are incredibly grateful to Rokhsana Fiaz, Mayor of Newham, for listening to our mums who are living in unsuitable National Asylum Seeker accommodation.

The quality of this accommodation has, for a long time, been very poor. Issues include frequent infestations, damp, material degradation, and a lack of adequate safety measures such as fire doors, fire exits etc.

This is bad at the best of time but during the pandemic and lockdown – as other families were moved in to self contained accommodation to reduce the risk of infection and to safeguard families by making sure they can socially distance from other families – our asylum seeking mothers and children were left, sometimes 4 to one room in a shared house, to cope.

We are incredibly grateful to the Mayor for listening to our mothers and writing an open letter on the issue to the Home Office.

Here it is in its entirety: