The Magpie Project have been announced as one of the three winners of the London Homelessness Awards 2019. We asked them to tell us what an average day in the project is like.
A day in the life at the Magpie Project
A drop-in means no day is the same, but we know it takes courage to seek help, so the last thing we want to do is insist on an appointment. People are literally welcome to drop in whenever it suits them.
Volunteers arrive to create a relaxed and calm setting for the playgroup. Of course they are paddling furiously under the surface with nappy deliveries, risk assessments, safeguarding, referrals and case work. But they keep smiling.
Mums trickle in; there are hugs and laughs. A mum brings back clothes – perfectly laundered and ironed – that she was given by us and baby has grown out of. “For the next mum” she says.
Mama A arrives. She fled domestic violence and is struggling to gain support because of her immigration status.
First, the basics, is she hungry, in pain, cold – does she feel safe? We listen without interrupting, without judgement, resisting the temptation to jump in and fix things.
We look out clothes, nappies, and toiletries. We sort an emergency grant to top up her phone while our nursery nurse soothes mums fears about baby’s eating and takes details to transfer health records from the borough she fled.
Both Shelter and London Black Women’s Project are in the project today so the referral is just a walk across the room, a short introduction and handing over notes. Mama A does not have to tell her story from scratch.
Our resident dance artist is moving and singing with the children, while a beauty therapist gives mums mini facials in the corner.
As the singing in the play room subsides, families assemble for lunch. We introduce Mama A to a regular with whom she shares a language. She is beginning to relax. This peer support is the magic we could neither manufacture nor pay for.
As 50 families leave – laden with nappies, food and other essentials – we clear up, pack down and prepare for the next day. Then we can go home.
Today we have done what we can.
The first prize of £30000 and two runners up prizes of £20000 and £10000 will be announced by Deputy Mayor James Murray at a special ceremony at City Hall on October 17th. For more information about the shortlisted projects go to www.lhawards.org.uk and follow us @lhawards