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. 

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.

We won! London Homelessness Award and £30,000

Option A - First prize winner

The Magpie Project, a community response to the problem of homeless families in Newham has been announced as the first prize winner of the London Homelessness Awards 2019.  The team, based in Newham, work with mums during their time without secure housing.

Jane Williams works at the Magpie Project.  She said: “We were honoured to be shortlisted for this prize especially alongside five other incredible and innovative products. But to win is just extraordinary. It is a massive boost for the Magpie Project.  The prize gives us confidence that our person-based, trauma informed, multi-disciplinary, co-produced help is recognised as a good model.”

“Being judged by giants in the sector such as Shelter and Crisis is a big honour. But most of all, the prize, raises the profile of the mums and minis in temporary accommodation whose needs have not previously been met and voices not heard.”

“Although the families with under-fives seen at the project are rarely rough sleeping, they can be sofa-surfing, in refuges, or in cramped, grubby, inadequate temporary accommodation.  Their children are uniquely vulnerable. Squalid accommodation and destitution make potty training, adequate sleep, play, good diet or exercise impossible to achieve. This can often lead to delayed development and trauma.”

“So, three times a week we open our doors to offer a secure place to stay and play; somewhere for mums to find solace, respite and food, clothes, nappies, a listening ear. Then, when mums are ready, we bring professionals from health, immigration, housing, early years to support and advise them in addressing their issues and improve their lives.”

Dianne has visited the project with her young children. She said:

“The Magpie Project gave me hope when I had none. I went there when I could not see a way out of my situation – but they worked with me on solving my problems and now I feel happier and more hopeful. The Magpie Project gave me wings”

Simon Dow of the London Housing Foundation chaired the judging panel for this year’s awards.  He said: “The judges were very positive about all of our finalists but in the end felt that The Magpie Project had the edge, meeting an often unmet need for a vulnerable client group.  We hope that this awards, and the £30,000, helps them go from strength to strength.”

Jane Williams said of the £30,000 “This is a very significant amount of money for us to have won. We will be meeting with mums, staff, volunteers and trustees to decide on exactly the best ways to use this money to improve the every day lives of our mums and children in the present – and work to change the situation for mums in the future.”

Other prize winners, winning £20000 and £10000 were the North London Early Homelessness Prevention Service and The Passage’s Anti-Slavery Project

The week the UN came to visit

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So what a week it has been.

On Monday we took three of our mums to Community Links historic and inspiring building on the Barking Road – a building in which the suffragette movement was hothoused.

We were there to give evidence to Philip Alston the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. It was not lost on those in the room that – all this time after Sylvia Pankhurst’s brave stand –  we are still having to talk about how women are suffering disproportionately from public policy decisions in general and austerity in particular.

Phillip Alston listened quietly to eight local organisation including London Renters Union, LAWRS, and us (see picture above) about how public services are letting down those who go to them for help.

What our mums said…

We told Alston how our mums are denied housing, support, social networks, and the basics needed to survive such as good, hygiene and nappies.

We let him know that women are not helpless, or feckless – they know how to be brilliant mothers and spend all their time and energy doing their best – but a lack of the support to which they are entitled is stopping them doing so. This is keeping them destitute and in despair.

Our incredible mums stood up strong and told their truth to those in the room.

How they felt they had not choice but to stay with an abusive partner – being raped regularly – as they would be homeless and destitute otherwise.

How they had been denied the support to which they were entitled for eight months leaving them literally penniless in an uninhabitable house and unable to keep the heat or the lights on.

How when they had finally plucked up courage to seek help they were left to wait 20 hours in the council office with no food or drink – until they were so weak and dizzy they had to drink their child’s milk.

What happened then….

As you can see from the reporting in the Guardian and Independent their stories made an enormous impact.

On Friday, Alston released his preliminary findings. Here are his damning conclusions on what he found, not in  only in East London, but around the country.

They makes sobering reading, but  – despite what else is going on politically this week – we think it should be front page news.

We are proud of our mums for their brave and heart-wrenching testimonies – and we are pleased that someone – for once – listened.

How can you help?

If you would like to do something to help why one take one of these steps:

  1. Talk to you councillor or MP about housing provisions, No recourse to public funds, and how they are tackling poverty.
  2. Donate to a local food bank, or
  3. See how you can help our project walk with those who fall through the broken state safety net.

CCB: Campaign for Clean Bums: Newham Nappy Appeal

Magpie Project

There are babies in Newham who have to go too long between nappy changes because their mums cannot afford enough nappies to keep them comfortable.

There are mums in Newham who try to ‘rinse out’ or “scrape off” disposable nappies in order to re-use them as they simply don’t have the money to buy new ones.

Early on in our project we decided to give nappies and wipes to mums and minis who are destitute.

We decided this was a basic human right – to be clean dry and comfortable, and –  if nobody else was going to ensure it –  we would try.

Fast-forward and year and we are regularly seeing 90 babies in any given week. That is a lot of nappies and a bill of more than £1,000 a month for us.

So we are faced with a choice. Stop giving the nappies and face the issues again or – appeal for new sources of income to support our nappy donations.

This is where you come in……

Could you ‘sponsor a bum’ (or two) through regular giving each month.

It cost £15 a month to keep a baby or toddler in nappies and wipes. Clean, comfortable, not red and sore.

If you are game, please fill set up a standing order to

The Magpie Project

Sort Code : 40 06 30

Account: 03837424

If you want to code your standing order Nappies or similar then we will know to spend it on clean bums only.

Question: Why don’t mums use re-usable nappies?

Unfortunately we are where we are.

Mums don’t have free access to laundry facilities so the logistics of storing dirty nappies and washing them is just too much for their already difficult lives.

We know in a perfect world we would do away with disposables, but in this case we have decided to help in the only way we see we can,  in this imperfect world.

Question: Surely everyone can afford nappies?

Unfortunately 77% of our mums have no recourse to public funds that means that the basic safety net of benefits is not available to them.

Some of our mums have zero income while we work to get them support at all, many survive on £66 a week to cover everything – food, formula, travel, phone, electricity etc. That is not even starting to think about toiletries, sanitary protection, or expenses such as shoes and school uniform for older siblings.

Please help if you can – sponsor a bum and sleep tight in the knowledge that a baby in our community is clean and comfortable because of you.

Read mums’ stories

Donate online

Newham Recorder celebrates Magnificent Magpie Mum

Dupe, our wonderful mum of four – who has been with us since June 2017, is featured in the Newham Recorder this week.  We think you will agree she is an extraordinary and wonderful woman.

Read here

What was not mentioned – and should be – is the support that so many partner organisations give us.

Shelter, London Black Women’s Project, Aston Mansfield, Kay Rowe Nursery school and Children’s Centre. among others.

This support is equalled only by amazing support of you – our community.

So please don’t think for a minute that we think we do this ourselves. We know that it is first the mums, second our supporters who make all this happen.

We are just so happy to have you all on our side. THANK YOU.

Are you a mum on maternity leave? Become a MoM with us!

It is so easy to help out mums with children under five who are living in insecure accommodation. It is as simple as making friends. Simply come along, play, and then go with our mums and minis to another fun session during the week.

We ask for a commitment of 6 weeks only and you will get full training, support and supervision.

What could be nicer than becoming part of the wider community and doing some good just by being yourself and doing what you would be doing anyway with your baby.

Get in touch to talk it through – the first group of volunteers started in September and have been successful in creating community and accompanying our mums to outside events.

Join our new tranche of mums and be part of the Magpie magic.

contact us to find out more.

Snapshots Flyer-page-001

We are moving to MAGPIE CLOSE

Our new home is going to be:

The Lodge, Forest Lane Park, Magpie Close, E7 9DD.

It is a gorgeous little place, with a playground right next to it, on the edge of a park.

Perfect for our little ones to run, jump, get muddy and be kids, all under the watchful eye of their mums and our highly skilled and attentive volunteers.

Why?

After less than a year in existence we have outgrown our first home. The wonderful Aston Mansfield led by Claire, made the Magpie Project possible by allowing us the use of a room in the Froud Centre for zero rent.

We never thought we would fill it. But we are regularly getting more than 40 mums arrive in desperate need of help, housing advice, a friendly face and somewhere safe and welcoming for their under five to play.

So we are having to make a move.

How will you get there?

Nearest train stations are:

Forest Gate, overland train (to be Elizabeth line)
Maryland, overland train (to be Elizabeth line)
Stratford, overland and tube.

Buses:
308 (Wanstead to Lea Bridge Roundabout. Get off at St James School)
Or 25 or 86 bus and cross the bridge from Romford Rd on to Forest Lane.

When?

We are moving from in over the Easter break and back with the same service and more space from April 16th at 10am.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Meet our Trustees

Dianne Walls OBE

Dianne has been retired seven years from her post as a head teacher of a nursery school and children’s centre and has served as a local councillor for Forest Gate South. Her career as a teacher started in Newham, where she has lived since 1972. After teaching in secondary schools for twelve years, Dianne retrained to work in nursery and primary education, while working part-time. Most of her career has been in East London. She has served as a local councillor for a total of sixteen years, most recently since 2014. From 2011-2014 Dianne worked in the office of the MP for West Ham, as a volunteer dealing with casework and education issues. In 2015 she was awarded the OBE for services to education and the community. This reflected the excellent work done in the nursery school and children centre concerning child and staff development, in addition to parent and community involvement.

Dianne has a wide range of experience in supporting children and families who are going through a similar range of difficulties to the Magpie families.

On a personal note, Dianne has brought up a family in Newham and now has ten grandchildren most of whom live in East London and have attended school in Newham.

Dianne leads on early years for the trustee board.

Amy Ross

Amy has worked in the charity sector for over 10 years, with various roles spanning fundraising, campaigning, project management, strategy and planning.

She is currently Director of Operations and Senior Consultant at Keystone Accountability, where she overseas the internal operations of the charity and helps social change organisations to improve their performance by harnessing feedback from their service users. After moving to Forest Gate in 2014, and after years of working in the international development sector, Amy felt driven to apply her experience and learning to a cause more local to home.

After hearing about the families that come to The Magpie Project, and with young children of her own, Amy was compelled to offer her support. She joined the Fundraising Committee in September 2017 and was appointed to the board of trustees in February 2018.

Amy takes a lead on fundraising on the board.

Yasmin Raza

Yasmin joined the Board of Trustees in 2018. She has a background in inclusive financial policy and FinTech, and has worked across financial regulation (FCA), consultancy (EY), and, now works in government (House of Commons).

She is passionate about creating a fairer and more inclusive society and promoting a financial system that works well for both people and planet.

She was drawn to The Magpie Project after hearing about the challenges that mums and minis face. As a former primary school assistant and daughter of a migrant to the UK, she felt a connection with the Magpie Project values.

Yasmin leads on regulations and strategy development on the board.

How do we play?

We have trained early years specialists to support our children in the stay and play.

We listen and let the children lead
They spend their time listening, reacting, helping children move their learning to the next step. We have an ex-head of a nursery and children’s centre, and she helps assess where the children are, and what they would respond to best in their learning.

We support early speech
We support early speech by mirroring children’s words, letting them lead the play, and giving them space to let their imaginations go. We also get mums involved whenever we can.

We create amazing collaborative artworks
We are lucky also to have an amazing visual artist to work with our children. She uses natural and easily found materials to make wonderful extraordinary items. Last term she printed booklets from our mark-making, this term she is creating stick, twig and leaf pieces with the children.

What we are learning
Children are learning to co-operate, create, concentrate, to make decisions about texture, colour and form. Their hand-eye co-ordination improves, and their fingers become stronger and more dextrous – ready for writing when it is time.

But don’t tell them they are learning all these things ….  for them it is all just a sticky, messy, exciting fun!