Following their success at The London Homelessness Awards, the Magpie Project is continuing to develop new activities and new projects to support the mums and kids who use the service. We asked Jane Williams at the project to tell about a few of the latest initiatives.
What’s going on at The Magpie Project?
Tuesdays are now open for business!
The project is now open on a Tuesday and Thursday. The additional days are there to try out new interventions and courses that mums have requested. So we have had an Art Therapy session with mums chatting for an hour then painting for an hour, we have had a fil-making workshop, and English Language for Social Change classes.
We will also be using Tuesday afternoons to support mums to access the internet to sort benefits, training and job searches; help budget and negotiate rent, bills and other financial demands. This afternoon will be facilitated by trainee social workers.
As well as being helpful for the mums, this ensures that the social workers of the future can get real life experience of what it can be like to be up against it in Newham.
Roll out the red carpet!
The Magpie Project film making group is ready to premiere their film. The film tells the story of mums in Newham with “No Recourse to Public Funds”; the challenges they face and the joys they celebrate. The plan is to send the film to various festivals and competitions to see if it can get a wider audience for its essential message. So watch out on a small or large screen soon!
When we were approached by Bethany Williams, the award winning menswear designer we must admit we did not know quite how things would work. But Bethany is an incredible designer; she wanted to know all about the issues our mums faced, and spent days with us volunteering.
Now Bethany has dedicated her latest collection to the project. The fashion show will welcome 50 mums from the project, and the clothes, the music, the film and the spoken word poetry have all been inspired by their story. Oh and a percentage of the profits will go back in to the project, and Bethany Williams has insisted that her partners – which include Adidas and Wool and the Gang – work with them too.
The Magpie mums are also working with a PhD student, Diana Rosenthal from UCL, to develop their own body of evidence on their lives and the difficulties they face accessing optimal health. The idea being that it is not a good idea to write “about them without them”, so the mums themselves conduct the research rather than being “studied by” an academic. Their conclusions will go towards creating a foundation for health interventions that actually suit these mothers and their lives rather than alienate them.
As part of the UCL PhD student’s work, 15 of the mums at Magpie are working on an exhibition. This will include stories from the mums: poems, drawings, painting and photographs. The centre-piece will be a quilted map of Newham showing different elements of the community and highlighting the experiences they face.
Voices from the frontline
This year will also see the Magpie Mums raising their voices in various public forums to draw attention to the issues facing them.
The project has gained ROSA funding to run as series of workshops to help mums skill up to speak their own truth to power.
Alongside Project 17 and the Happy Baby Community mums will learn from On Road Media, a Guardian Journalist, and others about framing a story, public speaking, confidence, and campaigning so that they can take their asks to those in power.
Add in a dancer in residence, an artist in residence, musicians writing and singing songs with mothers, a new community food growing project and an advocacy through theatre project and you will begin to see just how busy the Magpie Project is going to be.
And this is on top of seeing around 60 families each session, welcoming 4 new families a week, giving out up to 70 packs of nappies and wipes weekly, monthly clothes giveaways, daily hot lunches and so much more.
For more information about the Magpie Project go to https://themagpieproject.org/. If you would like more information or want to help, financially, through contacts, through skills sharing or in any other way you can imagine please get in touch. As you can see, they have plenty to do. For more information about the London Homelessness Awards, including stories from previous winners and information about the 2020 awards, please go to https://lhawards.org.uk/