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:

Running Mum 40….

We could not be prouder of Monica. She came to us at the start of the year with an idea – an incredible idea. To run 40 10km races in a year. Forty, in a year! Not one, not twenty – forty!!!!!

We thought she was wonderful – a little crazy but a lot wonderful.

Now, time has flown, and undeterred even by a global pandemic, she only has a few races left to go.

Even more amazingly she only has £770 to raise to reach her very ambitious target of £4,040.40 (Yes we suggested the target).

Please do support her if you can.

We don’t think anybody has ever worked harder for their fundraising.

This is her latest blog post.

“Firstly, happy 3rd birthday to @magpieprojectuk .

So it was June 5th 2017 that they started off as a few concerned women, asking homeless mums what they needed from The Magpie project to help.

They have grown from strength to strength and have continued to serve the vulnerable who are most affected by the virus. 


This week, the girls and I returned to school after almost 11 weeks.

I’ve had the most wonderful time with Tilia and Kita and feel like I’ve got to know them all over again.

Their relationship and love for each other is beautiful and it’s been amazing to watch this blossom.

Yes, there have been tricky days where I was not at my best as a mother, teacher or role model however I would reflect on this and talk myself through why it was difficult and how to to avoid a situation like that again. 


Today was a solo run around Wanstead and it was a chilly and windy one. The run was a little bit over the hour but could have been under the hour if I hadn’t walked for a minute to blow my nose…so annoying. 


The Justgiving page was written together with Jane (founder of The Magpie Project) and she set the target of £4040.40.

At the time I was thinking, I’m never going to make this and didn’t want to let them down but I was so wrong. I underestimated how my friends, family, colleagues, ex-colleagues and neighbours would be so giving and generous. You guys are amazing!! I have to raise £770 to reach my target and I’m going to get there I know!!

Please continue to donate at 
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/runningmum40

Monica, Running Mum 40.

Thank you to The Corner House Project

One incredible and unexpected impact of the horrible few months we have lived through is the wonderful local community groups we have met, and worked with. In a series of blogs we are hoping to thank you all one by one.

Thank you to the Corner House Project

First we want to say a massive thank you The Corner House Project.

We are supporting 145 families in Newham, Redbridge, Waltham Forest, and Barking and Dagenham during the lockdown.

These families are women with children under five. 80% of them have no state assistance at all (meaning that they survive on £37.50 a week). This week you got together 145 EID cards with a local primary school. These cards made the day of the mums and children.

The Corner House Project based in Wanstead and the brainchild of John Wagstaff at PettySon and Prestwich .

We have been getting car-fulls of donations every week from this fantastic organisation – including nappies, tins, pot noodles, rice, and toiletries.

These donations have come in through the generosity of the Wanstead community, and the tireless work of Suzi Harnett who runs the Wanstead Community Hub.

James Paterson and Juliette Harvey who run the brilliantly simple and elegant “Tin in a Bin” food bank/local causes initiative. Residents have put a bin in their front garden and others are dropping in tins, and other items for local food banks and us included. The amount of items we have received from this is absolutely staggering and proves that when lots of people get involved the difference they make is astounding.

We have also benefited from gorgeous fruit from the Cornerhouse Project. Fruit is the number one thing that our parents ask for to keep their children well, full of vitamins and healthy.

That is what the wonderful Wanstead community have done week in, week out for our families.

But this weekend was astounding! We decided really late in the day that we wanted to give our families an EID treat. We realised a lot of families were feeling sad and miserable at the thought of celebrating EID at home alone, and without much fanfare. So we decided we wanted to give them a treat.

EID effort

A message to the Corner House Project and they swung in to action.

145 hand made personalised cards? No problem!

145 trinkets, bangles, shiny presents? OK!

So thank you Samantha Lea and Dan her husband. You managed to garner a whole primary school to the cause to create beautiful personal cards – and Lola del Estal and Christelle Loew, Juliette Harvey you begged, borrowed and stole bangles from their children and relatives neighbours to make this happen.

Our mums have been so so grateful for your efforts – here are some of their messages.

“Thank you to everyone at the Magpie Project. We expect Christmas presents but EID, what a sweet gesture”

Another:

My kids are over the moon, we really love the balloons, the sweets and the bangles. We feel so well looked after and loved”

We could not be more grateful – on behalf of our wonderful mums and minis, and on behalf of the whole project. You did something wonderful, thank you.

PS. When lockdown is over we can’t wait to welcome you all to a party – to meet the families you have supported, and to feel the love and gratitude we all have for you.

Voices from Lockdown 2

Mama K is an asylum seeker. She is a victim of trafficking, she was smuggled to this country when she was a child.  Now she has claimed asylum, and is housed by the Home Office.

Although those placed in non-self contained accommodation by the local council under Section 17 or housing duty are being rehoused to self-contained. There is no word from the home office about those housed by the home office as yet.

Despite this extreme trauma, Mama K is a wonderful mum to her little boy. With him she is all warmth and cuddles – she kept us at arms length for the longest time. By turns fearsome and friendly.

She is absolutely passionate about. standing up for what is right, and fights for herself and all our mums. She simply detests injustice.

It took us while to get used to her sense of humour – so very dry. But now we have she literally keeps us in stitches. She takes every opportunity to learn, to take part in all our workshops, to give voice to other less confident mums.

Her son is one tomorrow, he is so smiley happy, busy cruising around furniture.  He is days from taking his first steps. He shouts and babbles so many pre-word noises now – during one workshop he gleefully shouted on one note for about sixty seconds – stopping the speaker in her tracks!

This is Mama Ks message to all of us from isolation (or as near to it as she can achieve).

It is a shame that it is weeks into this pandemic and we still have not heard anytime from our local housing officers. Not one form of contact – even if it is just a telephone call to check up and reassure us.

No information has been passed to me at all so far.

The people that live in the other units in our shared accommodation are still bringing friends to the house they are coming and going, some of them are are even staying the night.

One of my co-tenants has a friend that has been here with her since the night of lockdown.

We have no communal living area, and there is no TV provided in the house. Now that we are not allowed outside –  we have been told to stay at home –  I have been stuck in my tiny rooms with my child.

They have nowhere to play at all. There is no floor space around the bed in my room at all.

Anxiety and depression are beginning to kick in as we have no information. Nobody is contacting us, and we don’t even know how long this is situation is going to go on for.

Voices from the crisis

Let us live, let us help!

Our beautiful Mama M is an incredible person, with sparkly trainers, an easy bright smile and the best behaved children you could ever meet.  
She is a natural leader. She is a touchstone for many of our mums who go to her not only to help with translations but for emotional and practical support, at the time of the crisis we were, together, devising a language course that would culminate in a guidebook to services with vocabulary for newly arrived migrant mums ….
Here is her take on the crisis and what it means to her, a single mother in the asylum system.
Please read,
Please share,
Please ask the politicians and public policy makers to do something.

I am an asylum seeker 

I arrived in the UK in October 2018, I was pregnant and had two children with me.  I was fleeing a situation so catastrophic that I do not wish to remember that time. I want to move forward. I applied for asylum as soon as I arrived.

Since them I have completed my asylum interviews but, unfortunately, I haven’t heard back from the home office. I am in limbo. I live in one room in shared accommodation with my 3 children.

Any parent can imagine the difficulty living, learning, sleeping in these conditions. This situation it’s really affecting our mental health and wellbeing.

My Doctor has already given me a letter to send to the home office through my solicitor saying that my living condition is causing me “undue distress and anxiety”.

I am suffering from sleep deprivation. My child’s school support practitioner has also testified how important it is that the children have some stability for their learning and wellbeing.

So things were a struggle before the Covid19 crisis.  I was surviving, barely, but surviving.

But now I am really scared

I am not able to self-isolate in shared accommodation with shared kitchen and toilet. It doesn’t work at all.

What will happen to my kids if I get sick?

I have not heard anything from our building manager or from the Home Office about the crisis.

My anxiety and stress is through the roof with this additional worry about my family’s health.

We simply need a self-contained place to keep healthy.

I am also concerned that our food supplies will run out.

Because we receive our NASS support payment of £37 per person at the beginning of every week, we are unable to buy, store or stockpile food.

Luckily, we are supported by a charity called The Magpie Project who have been providing weekly food bags and nappies.

But they also, most importantly, support us emotionally by connecting us with other mums through a fantastic WhatsApp group. We can join a positive place to share ideas, ask for help or talk to other Magpie mums.  *NO posting videos or stuff about the virus from unknown sources! *

We – as mums – are trying to survive and keep our children safe

But if the country gave us the support we need – we could do more. We could actually also volunteer to help this country and people in need by giving the skills we have.  In our Magpie group there are trained doctors, emergency response workers,  educators, and more.

All of us are forced to stay at home, destitute and worried for our families’ health, when we could be a massive benefit to this country.

If this crisis proves anything it is that we are all connected, my children are your children and vice versa.

I would beg you to

  1. Move us in to self-contained accommodation,
  2. Lift our NRPF and No Work condition.
  3. Let us live, let us help!

COVID-19: how to help

We love you guys, and we hear “how can I help” so often, but every time we do it makes our hearts sing.

Here are five simple things you can do – from home, from abroad, in person, at a distance.

You choose it is all needed:

1. Donate items

We are co-ordinating our response with The Renewal Programme  Bonny Downs Community AssociationWest Silvertown Foundation and Alternatives Trust.

Emerging needs include:

  • Dried food,
  • Nappies
  • Formula
  • computer tablets
  • Data/wifi connections
  • Toys and books for children.

and we will deliver to our mums and minis who are in need and self-isolating.

  • EAST HAM HUB: The Well Community Centre, 49 Vicarage Lane, E6 6DQ on Tuesdays and Thursdays 10 am – 2 pm

  • FOREST GATE HUB: Forest Lane Lodge, E7 9DE on Mondays and Wednesdays 10 am – 2 pm

  • MANOR PARK HUB: 395 High Street North, E12 6PG on Tuesdays and Fridays 10 am – 2 pm

  • PLAISTOW HUB: Forrest House, E13 8AB, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10am – 3pm

  • WEST SILVERTOWN HUB: Britannia Village Hall, E16 1TU on Mondays and Thursdays 11am – 3pm

2. Donate time

We are  working up our virtual advocacy, peer support, playgroups and chats.

We are offering Zoom Parties and WhatApp hangouts to our mums and minis to try to keep spirits high during this difficult time.

Already we have dancers, musicians, mindfulness coaches creating videos that we can stream to mums and minis. This keeps us all happy and entertained. If you have a skill that you would like to share with our mums during their lock down. Why not get in touch, make a video, and we will watch it together.

Origami, knitting, papier mache, whatever it is you do, lets do it together.

3. Add your voice

We are desperate that our mums are not forgotten during this time.

So if you can write to your MP, your councillor, your mayor, the newspaper, whomever and raise the issue of those without Recourse to Public Funds we would be very grateful.

Read about the issue here:

Read our mums’ accounts here.

Then please tell everyone you know, this is not fair, it must not stand, we can change it together.

4. Donate money 

We can always use more funding to get to the families that others are not reaching. If you can do nothing else, then please consider donating to support our efforts.

Donate here

5. Stay safe, stay well, we will get through this together as a community – see you on the other side.