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.
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.
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.
Writer Charlie Gilmour is supporting our families on the launch of his book Featherhood.
His book is a unique, affecting and beautiful memoir and exploration of parenthood, childhood trauma, and rescuing a baby bird.
Alongside Newham Bookshop, he is offering a signed copy of his book and picture signed by him, his mother Polly Samson and his stepfather David Gilmour for auction to raise funds for our work.
Why the Magpie Project?
Many people are unaware of the plight and suffering and potential lifelong price paid by children brought up in destitution, in insecure, overcrowded, inadequate housing. These children are unseen by most of us even though they are in every London school class, we walk past them on the street, in the park, and they live in horrible converted office blocks, overcrowded HMOs and dank windowless rooms behind the very shops we frequent and on the streets that are familiar to us all.
Our project wants to ensure that, in this part of London at least, no child falls through the net, no matter what the circumstances, immigration status, housing rights of their parents we believe that #AllOurChildren must be embraced by their community to thrive. Find out more about our work.
BID TO WIN
We have 5 signed books for you to win at auction. Each one will be accompanied by a photograph signed not only by Charlie Gilmour but by his mother the esteemed author Polly Samson, and Charlie’s step father, Pink Floyd legend David Gilmour.
These photos are exclusive to The Magpie Project. You will not get one anywhere else.
How to enter the blind auction. Fill in the form and press ENTER BID below.
- Bids are open now and close at noon (BST) on Thursday 3rd September.
- Please put your bids in to the form below and submit. We will send you a confirmation that your offer has been received.
- You can bid as many times as you like. (We are expecting many bids to be in 3 figures from the start, so consider that when you place your bid).
- You will not know what other people have bid, so be bold!
- You will be informed by email on 3rd September if you have one of the five winning bids.
- We will send details of where to pay, and when we receive payment we will send you your signed book and signed photo. Postage to the UK will be free courtesy of Newham Bookshop. If you live outside the UK we will negotiate postage fees.
- You will have 48 hours to respond and pay. After that, you will lose your bid and we will move on to the next highest bidder (please keep an eye on your email).
- The decisions of the charity are final.
- 100% of your bid will go to supporting mums and children who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. (Photos and books have been donated by Charlie Gilmour, postage and packing in the UK by Newham Bookshop).
A second collection with the Magpie Project from prize-winning designer Bethany Williams.
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.
She also took the time to volunteer with us at the Magpie Project packing boxes, craft bags, equipment, food, and clothes for our locked down mums and minis.
Now she is thinking about her next collection. And we are delighted to say that after the incredible success of her collection #NRPF. She has decided to look to our children and mothers, and now to you all too, for inspiration for her next project.
New Collection, Needs You!
Bethany Williams menswear designer, and entrepreneur’s new project is an exploration of the role that clothes and fabrics play in making up and making sense of our personal histories, childhood memories, and sense of self – of family either that we are born in to or that we choose.
She would like us to all be a part of her next collection, and to help collect the research for the design process.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the body of the email answer the following.
- 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?
2. What does this outfit mean to you? How did you feel when you wore it? Did you wear it for a special occassion?
3. What memories or hopes does this outfit evoke that you would like to share with the next generation?
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.
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…..
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.
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 atMonica, Running Mum 40.
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 alot 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.
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”
“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.
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.
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 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
- Move us in to self-contained accommodation,
- Lift our NRPF and No Work condition.
- Let us live, let us 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
Emerging needs include:
- Dried food,
- 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.
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.
5. Stay safe, stay well, we will get through this together as a community – see you on the other side.