Bethany Williams x The Magpie Project #AllOurChildren

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.

Here’s How

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?

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.

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…..

 

 

 

 

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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 door, 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.

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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 in fact.

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 cos it was so fitting,,,,)

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.
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Come and join our team!

We are lucky enough to have gained some funding for some much needed family support in our project.

If you know about us, we are committed to supporting our wonderful community of mums of under fives experiencing homelessness. We do this by walking alongside, by active listening, by believing them, by seeing the whole person not just a “problem”.

This takes more time, it takes more effort, it takes more emotional energy than acting as a traditional “case worker”. Because it is led by each individual, we are not prescriptive about what “better” will look like.

We insist our staff and volunteers act with empathy, compassion and do not allow judgement to creep in to their work.

We make sure that your environment is always welcoming, trauma informed and supportive no matter what stage of their journey mums are at when they walk in the door.

Basically, if you don’t really care, if you just want to go to the work for the money, that is fine, but please don’t apply for this job.

If you feel like either of these roles would suit you – and you have the energy and passion to throw at it – please get in touch about one of two roles we are looking to fill.

Family Support Manager

In this role, now 3.5 days a week, 11 months a year. You will embody the welcome, empathy, listening, boundaried professionalism that is our ethos.

You will assess incoming mothers and be decisive in how to work with them to gain the right professional, social and practical help.

You will understand that you will not necessarily be trusted immediately, the lived stories may take time to emerge, and that we all live complex and tangled lives.

You will have the chance to head up a team of volunteers and students to create a top class all round offer of support with the help of our partner organisations such as Shelter, London Black Women’s Project, Health Visitors, Local Third Sector Partners.

This is not a ‘first job” so please don’t apply if you don’t already have experience of supporting complex families.

Download below form for job description and details on how to apply.

Graduation Manager

This role is 1.5 days a week for 11 months a year.

We are great at welcoming families, we are great at serving families to get to where they need to be, up until now we have not been too orderly in graduating families out of the project.

When they have their ducks in a row, when they are ready to take the next steps in to independent housing, the world of work or education – this is where the graduation manager will come in.

You will work with each family who is coming out of crisis to map their next steps. Through applying for universal credit, to finding suitable housing, to deciding on training, apprenticeships, volunteering, or work opportunities.

We have wonderful partners such as BEAM, Community Links, and Workplace Newham who can help our mums on this journey. And all of these will be at your fingertips when helping families move on.

This is not a ‘first job” so please don’t take up your very important time in applying if you don’t already have experience of supporting complex families.

Press link below to download job description and details on how to apply.

Deadline for applications Monday June 15th.

2020-06-15T12:00:00

  days

  hours  minutes  seconds

until

Hurry get your application in.

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Thank you 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 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.

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.

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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.

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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!
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COVID 19 RESPONSE: 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.

 

 

 

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What does our dancer in residence do?

I find myself struggling to describe the magic and the miracles that our dancer in residence Louise Klarnett creates every time she comes to work with our mothers and minis.

To fully know the effect she has it is important to know how mums arrive with us, so far from being ready to risk a dance or an engagement that anybody could be.

Mums and children are traumatised.

Traumatised by the experiences that led them in to homelessness: Domestic abuse, family breakdown, domestic slavery, trafficking, having been hurt, used, cut.

They are often living within the trauma of being homeless. Insecure, unable to sleep, depressed, anxious, untrusting, in pain (emotional and physical).

For those who don’t know what Louise does it might seem incongruous to invite a dancer work with this group of women and children.

Surely we should concentrate on sorting out the practical problems. The housing, the income, the immigration, the need for safety, food, comfort.

Well, we do that too.

But our view is that babies do not stop being babies when they become homeless.

They do not stop developing –  and needing the inputs and stimulation that is necessary for them to develop – because they have larger issues. In fact, they need these things more. They need play, joy, belonging, movement, engagement and creativity. 

They need to be children, to move, roll, jump, hop, feel the joy and release of twirling, twisting, and turning.

It turns out that this is not just play:

It is development,

It is mood regulation,

It is building core strength both emotional and physical.

So. 

Being in the room with Louise is magic for these reasons.

We witness babies who are suspicious, stressed, silent begin to brave engagement. To come out of themselves and to move.

 

 

This is how Louise describes it.

 

Some bound over into my ‘space’ confident, open, tactile.

One little girl with long thick eyelashes and wide, wide eyes, silently notices me across the room through the noise, and people and toys.

She looks then looks away, looks

again.

I align my midline and widen my perceptual field to include her in my improvisation from across the space, through the noise and people and toys.

This relationship builds slowly over the duration of the whole session.

She takes / catches my eye and is somehow a little nearer to me, navigating and testing the safety and the possibilities.  

We look, blink, look away. 

I smile, gesture a sort of ‘wave’, reach without expectation.

I sway in my midline and spiral in improvised motion with many other children from the sky to the ground and find stillness as well as energy, in and out of contact as appropriate.

She is still there, across the space, through the noise and people and toys.  

Nearing the end of the session this little one initiates a movement conversation.

A wave for a word. A game, repeating but changing. Her wave, small, without eyes, bigger with eyes, bigger with eyes and in response to my gesture and eyes. A slight smile across her eyes, knowing she and I are playing the same game.

Closer but still distant in the room. I hope I might spark this dance again. 

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Bethany Williams hands her spotlight to Magpie Mums and Minis

 Collection: “No Recourse to Public Funds” (NRPF)

 

We were over the moon to be asked by the prestigious and prize-winning menswear designer Bethany Williams to collaborate on her latest Autumn Winter collection.

Bethany Williams is not a fashion designer, she is a trailblazer paving the way for a more compassionate, more inclusive future. She uses her immense talent to selflessly leverage her brand and partnerships in the service to our community’s most vulnerable and marginalised members. When we were introduced to the idea of collaborating with Bethany by our UCL PhD student and researcher Diana Margot Rosenthal in early 2019, we must admit we did not know what to expect.

Being a coal-face, crisis-to-crisis,  grass roots organisation created to make sure that a spell in temporary accommodation does not cause permanent damage to children who experience it. We have supported over 400 mothers and 500 children in the past two years. Women and children who have become invisible to an unaware or uncaring society. At first glance, our world of living on £34 a week, and of infested and unfit accommodation seemed a million miles away from menswear.

In Britain a child becomes homeless in every eight minutes. That means currently 135,000 children in Britain are homeless. In some London Boroughs this figure rises to 1 in 12 children (Shelter England. 2019).

She brought collaborators and sponsors with her. Through multiple visits, Bethany brought Melissa Kitty Jarram, a South East London based illustrator and artist, to hear the otherwise untold truths of mums and their small children forced to live in temporary and unfit accommodation, unable to work, or study, or move, because they have been deemed to have “no recourse to public funds”. The artwork collaboration for this season has been created from a visit to our ‘Rhyme and Song’ session where Melissa illustrated the bond between mother and child.

*NRPF is a condition imposed due to a person’s immigration status, and prohibits seeking public funds such as welfare benefits and housing provided via the local authority, which is subject to discretion and a case-by-case basis of “intentional homelessness.” (Children’s Commissioner Report, 2019)

It is extraordinary that someone so young, so humble, and so unassuming as Bethany has single-handedly created a space that allows for the most unlikely bedfellows – high fashion and grass roots community projects – to come together and collaborate to create change. With her clarity of purpose, her clean, fresh, uncomplicated approach with, her simple and steadfast values, mean that her agenda is clear and those with power have been compelled to buy into.

The Magpie Project’s homeless are our children and not somebody else’s problem. they are our children, they are our future (adults). Everything we do, every decision we make, can create a future in which every one of them, and us, can thrive – together. This is not fashion, this is a blueprint for a better future – happening now.

Through spending real time with us, Bethany ensured that – from materials to models, communications to collaborators – every decision she makes is run through her own ethical framework and interlinking with the nurturing bond between mother and child.

This collection celebrates Mother hood, childhood, sisterhood, and the family we choose, highlighting the importance of this powerful bond. This show is dedicated to giving a community that is marginalised and silenced on a daily basis, a platform and voice to share their story.

Design inspiration for this journey surrounds elements of nurturing, comfort and shelter. These blocks were imperative areas of focus during the research and development process. From working closely with the children of Magpie, garment construction and craft techniques from children’s clothing has shaped this collection. The Women’s Institute community work closely with Magpie, and create a personal blanket for every baby born into the Magpie family. This inspiring act has lead to the use of recycled bedding and techniques such as quilting and patch working as common threads throughout this collection.

These garments have been created alongside loyal and continuous social projects, suppliers, crafts-people and manufacturers from the production of previous collections. The knitwear for this collection has been hand knitted by Alice Evans and  Bethany’s mother Karen Kewley using Wool and the Gang yarns. This season, a new Wool and the Gang x Magpie Project sock pattern has been designed and developed, which will be available for free on the Wool and the Gang website from tomorrow in two sizes so that anyone has access to download and knit socks to be donated to the Magpie mothers and children. Socks are one of the most un-donated clothing items and are in the most demand in the homeless community.

This show is proudly in partnership with Adidas Originals once again for the seasonal show at LFWM, as part of their on going support for Bethany who this year was named the best emerging menswear talents at The Fashion Awards. Both Adidas Originals and Bethany share similar values with a passion for design, sustainability and looking to the icons of the past to create the future.

For this seasons collaboration  celebrates the anniversary of the iconic adidas Superstar, which will be on foot at her show at LFWM. A select few of the shoes worn have been made in collaboration with the talented Helen Kirkum, up cycled using Superstars donated through the new Adidas Infinite play Initiative. 

All of the detail about the infinite play initiative can be found here:

https://www.adidas.co.uk/blog/396320

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