For an update on what we are doing, and our results so far please download our Magpie project end of term report. Or see our highlights below.
If you would like to partner with us, fund us, or make a professional connection, please feel free to contact Jane Williams. We are open to ideas.
Pilot period: June 4th – July 22nd 2017
Two four-hour supported stay and play sessions per week for seven weeks. This added up to 56 contact hours in total.
Rent-free access to a room in Aston Mansfield’s Froud Centre,
10 core volunteers who gave more than 500 hours to the project during this period.
We are extremely grateful to Aston Mansfield, to our volunteers, and to all those who have supported our pilot.
We secured co-operation from local children’s centres – most importantly Forest Gate, and Manor Park – health visitors, domestic violence practitioners, housing charity Shelter, members of the public, local businesses, and the NCT. This enabled us to source food, provisions, play equipment and expertise at no cost.
We worked to gain referrals from health visitors, family support workers within early years settings, refuges and other charities such as the Refugee and Migrant Project and Maternity Mates. We also door-knocked at Donald Hunter House. Our most effective means of referral was through health visitors and children’s centres. We are hoping to create links with housing officers and midwifery services to gain referrals through those pathways in the next tranche of delivery.
Feedback from mums, professionals and volunteers leads us to believe we are on the right track in terms of this basic mode of delivering services to the most vulnerable of families in Newham.
Of the 20 families who came to us, 14 had no recourse to public funds. This led to their precarious housing situation, and to a level of destitution that we had not been expecting.
Support while awaiting solutions
Our main priority was, and remains, the wellbeing of the children under 5 who find themselves in this situation. We believe that supporting their mothers in their role as primary carers is the best way to ensure children’s wellbeing in the first instance – while being aware of safeguarding and child protection issues at all times.
A £20,000 grant from the SDP charitable trust, will enable us to move forward from our seven-week pilot to delivery of the project until April 2018.
After feedback from our mums, professional partners and volunteers we will be focusing on our core offer – a supported stay and play, with travel to and from paid, offering lunch, baby bank, sanitary items and nappies.
On top of this we will be concentrating on our professional help in three areas:
1. Housing – we will continue to work with the London Black Women’s Project and Shelter to advise on families’ housing issues.
2. Mental wellbeing – we will continue to refer to both Solace Women’s Aid counselling services and Newham Talking Therapies. But we have identified the need, in the first instance, for a more consistent low-level intervention based around peer support.
Newham NCT will train a number of our volunteers to become Parents in Mind peer supporters to mums suffering from peri-natal mental health issues.
For children, in addition to our regular health visitors and early years practitioners – from September a counsellor who will be creating therapeutic story-telling with our children, we will also be working with a specialist in speech and language to help with school readiness in a relaxed setting.
3. Immigrations status – alongside the help that the London Black Women’s Project are able to provide, we aim to work more closely with RAMP and to establish a relationship with local law firms to provide pro bono help with form-filling and legal advice on immigration matters.
Additional incentives to attend
Feedback from mothers who attended the project told us that it is the ‘family feel’ of the project that they like. We believe that it is, in part, their lack of social capital that makes them vulnerable. Fostering a sense of connection to other mums and to the wider community will be a major contributor to both their wellbeing and their resilience. To to build this social connections within the group we will continue to:
- bring in experts to the project to undertake taster sessions in dance, baby massage, hair and make-up and more.
- find excuses for celebrations – such as Eid, Halloween, Christmas, etc.
- work with our resident artist Lu, to allow mums and babies to explore their creativity together.