A new nest for magpie minis

Even before lockdown we were fast outgrowing Forest Lane Lodge.

We do not have sole use of the building, which means that we were setting up and breaking down the equivalent of a full nursery provision each time we opened.

That, alongside not having enough storage for our donations or a private area for our minis to play safely means that things were stretched.

Our irreplaceable professional partners who descend on our building to meet mums where they feel safe and supported often found themselves squatting on the floor, working on a chair in the playroom, taking case notes on the roundabout – making do.

Then lockdown happened…..

Our staff numbers doubled, the number of mums and minis we are supporting at any given time also doubled and a half (Grew by 150%?)

All these factors are adding up to the inevitable and unsettling conclusion that – to quote the classic film – we are going to need a bigger boat.

The good news

There is a great building very close by which is vacant. It is a five minute walk from the Lodge so even if a professional, a volunteer or a vulnerable mum comes to the old building it won’t be far to get to the new one. Other massive positives are:

  • There will be SO much more space,
  • We will have sole use of the building. We will have a garden all to ourselves to grow flowers, veg and children,
  • Our minis will have a private, safe space (indoor and out) to play,
  • We will have capacity inside to invite all of our beloved professional partners such as LBWP, Health Visitors, Family Support workers, Shelter advisers, Beauticians, Reiki practitioners, dance artists, artists, theatre practitioners to come, spread out and do their thing.

We are also hoping that the space will allow for a:

  • Laundrette
  • Cafe/cooking collective
  • Community garden
  • Digital hub
  • Advice space, but most important of all
  • Chatting, play and chaos and creating minis’ memories and mums’ belonging.

We could also imagine the wider community using the space for:

  • Hot desking,
  • Birthday parties,
  • Evening classes, etc.

The not so good news

It’s a building that has been squatted in. It is in a terrible state and it is not 100% clear what state it will be in if we get possession.

To make the building what we dream it could be for our families we would need:

  • Corporate or community groups to volunteer to clear the building
  • Corporate or community groups to volunteer to clean and paint
  • Specialist builders/developers to help with repairs
  • Gardeners/landscape artists to help create a beautiful outdoor space
  • Interior designers to help us imagine an amazing and magical place where mums and minis are centered
  • Furniture/office suppliers to help us kit the place out
  • Kitchen suppliers to help us create a beautiful collective cooking space, or
  • The money to pay for any of the above that we cannot beg or borrow in-kind.

So here’s where we need your help

We know we ask a lot of you, our beautiful, bountiful community. And here we are asking again, after a year where we have all given more than we ever thought possible. But – you know – it’s just so important to show up for our most vulnerable children and mothers. The brilliant thing is that with a little time and generosity we can, together, make something really beautiful and meaningful happen.

What can you pledge?

We feel as though we need to get an idea of whether our dreams are possible. We know – from the amazing support we have had in the past year – that there are many, many of you who help us, answer our call-outs, come to our aid. But before we take this on, it would be great to have the reassurance that a few of you may be on board to help again.

If you are interested in helping us give our mums and minis a safe, beautiful space to heal, learn and thrive please fill in the pledge form below.

If – hopefully when – we sign a lease, we will get back to you and see if you are still up for it. Then we will get it done and have the biggest thank you party Newham has ever seen!

Thank you so much, as always, for being there for our families. We will be in touch, hopefully with good news and a call to action as soon as we can.


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.