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Forest Gate project supporting vulnerable families receives £30k boost with London Homelessness Awards top prize

PUBLISHED: 17:00 21 October 2019 | UPDATED: 17:09 21 October 2019

The Magpie Project's Jane Williams (front), Sandra Neverson, Hannah Duthie and Doris Eruteyan with Shelter's Katy Farmer and mums after winning the London Homelessness Award. Picture: Mark Wall

The Magpie Project's Jane Williams (front), Sandra Neverson, Hannah Duthie and Doris Eruteyan with Shelter's Katy Farmer and mums after winning the London Homelessness Award. Picture: Mark Wall

Archant

A Forest Gate project helping vulnerable mums with young children has received a funding boost after winning the London Homelessness Award.

The Magpie Project provides support and advice to mothers with children under five during their time without secure housing. Picture: Alicia Canter.The Magpie Project provides support and advice to mothers with children under five during their time without secure housing. Picture: Alicia Canter.

The Magpie Project claimed the £30,000 first prize in this year's awards, which recognise innovative practice in the homelessness sector, for its work to safeguard mums during their time without secure housing.

The project is a community response to the problem of homeless families in the borough, where there are 2,000 statutory homeless children aged under five.

More than 300 mums have accessed the project in the past two years and sessions are often full with 50 or more mums and 75 children at the sessions.

It sees, on average, five new families a week.

The Magpie Project's Jane Williams said: "We were honoured to be shortlisted for this prize especially alongside five other incredible and innovative products, but to win is just extraordinary.

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"It is a massive boost for the Magpie Project. The prize gives us confidence that our person-based, trauma informed, multi-disciplinary, co-produced help is recognised as a good model."

The awards are sponsored by the London Housing Foundation, Shelter, London Housing Directors Group, the Mayor of London and Crisis.

"Being judged by giants in the sector such as Shelter and Crisis is a big honour, but most of all, the prize raises the profile of the mums and minis in temporary accommodation whose needs have not previously been met and voices not heard."

The project opens its doors three times a week to provide a secure place for families to find solace and respite.

When the mums are ready, professionals from fields such as health, immigration, housing and early years are brought in to provide advice to help improve their lives.

Families are rarely rough sleeping but could be sofa-surfing, in refuges, or in cramped, grubby, inadequate temporary accommodation.

This means the children are "uniquely vulnerable" and their living conditions and destitution can often lead to "delayed development and trauma."

Simon Dow of the London Housing Foundation, who chaired the judging panel for the awards, said: "The judges were very positive about all of our finalists but in the end felt that The Magpie Project had the edge, meeting an often unmet need for a vulnerable client group."

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