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Project that provides secure place for mums with young children receives London Homelessness Award

PUBLISHED: 13:11 12 August 2019 | UPDATED: 13:11 12 August 2019

The Magpie Project in Forest Gate, who help families living in temporary accommodation in Newham, provide support and advice to mothers and children under five. Picture: Alicia Canter.

The Magpie Project in Forest Gate, who help families living in temporary accommodation in Newham, provide support and advice to mothers and children under five. Picture: Alicia Canter.

Alicia Canter / aecanter@gmail.com / 07724238981 - contact before use to arrange fee

A project helping mums and young children in the borough has won a prestigious London Homelessness Award.

The Magpie Project in Forest Gate is one of the three winners of the awards, with the order of the top three to be announced and respective prize money awarded in October.

A community response to the problem of homeless families in the borough, the project works with children under five and their mums during their time without secure housing.

The Magpie Project's Jane Williams said: "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."

In the past two years, more than 300 mums have accessed the project.

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Sessions are often full with 50 or more mums and 75 children.

"Although the families we see are rarely rough sleeping, they can be sofa-surfing, in refuges, or in cramped, grubby, inadequate temporary accommodation," Ms Williams said.

"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."

The Magpie Project team sees five new families a week on average.

One mum, Dianne, who has visited the project with her young children, 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 three winners will be presented at a special ceremony at City Hall, where a top prize of £30,000 and runners-up prizes of £20,000 and £10,000 will be awarded,

London Homelessness Awards judging panel chairman Simon Dow said: "Magpie Project is a great example of identifying and responding to a local need."

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