The Magpie Project
At least 124,000 children in England are living in temporary accommodation. Some families live in B&Bs or other temporary housing for up to two years (Shared Health Foundation). Families with children end up in temporary accommodation for a number of reasons – fleeing gang violence or domestic abuse for example. But very often it is related to asylum seeker status.
Due to lack of minimum standards over the provision of a safe and suitable environment for children in temporary accommodation, and with no inspection framework in place, standards in temporary accommodation can drop dangerously low, with crowded and unhygenic conditions causing health and developmental issues for children.
National Children’s Mortality Database identifies temporary accommodation as one contributing factor to child deaths in the UK. Very often in temporary accommodation, children are kept in buggies, cots and highchairs all day, as parents have no other way to keep them off unsafe or dirty floors. As such they have delayed muscle tone and walking/crawling motor functions. When children are able to crawl or walk around, they pick up gut and skin infections, and many suffer respiratory infections. Many are in nappies at school age, as mothers believe that is a safer and cleaner option than attempting potty training in shared and unhygenic bathroom facilities.
Magpie Project provides a safe and supportive space for mums with children under 5 who are living in temporary and unsafe accommodation in Newham. They work in partnership with local specialist services to provide a holistic range of services within a trauma-informed framework, including supporting families with essential goods including nappies, food and clothing; delivering advice and support across health, housing, welfare, legal advice, employment and training; and crucially, creating an opportunity for children to simply play safely and freely, and for mothers to feel a sense of community in an environment which will not cast judgement on them or on their situation.
Treebeard provides multi-year core funding to the Magpie Project.