Hello and welcome to our most recent blog entry! Whether you are an old friend or a new supporter, we thought that it would be helpful to remind you of the details of our mission, namely how and why we do what we do. As we continue to navigate the uncertain waters of pandemic and lockdown, it is absolutely essential that we keep in focus the children and young people who are moving through the care system. Now more than ever, our drive is to tell them that they have value, worth and dignity even if - and especially because - they cannot see that they are deserving of those things. This is what drives us to support and enable the thousands of incredible people on both sides of the care system. We invite you to join us in this movement. We cannot do it without your help.

The Problem

Five years ago, our founder Dave Linton was deeply moved by hearing the accounts of young people in care being forced to carry their possessions in black bin bags when moving between residences. While this may happen because of necessity or a lack of available resources, the end result is that the child in question can feel devalued, as if their needs are unseen or unheard. In turn, Dave was inspired to help solve this problem, challenged further by evidence provided by charities and organisations such as Barnardo’s, who recently documented a 44% rise in children entering the care system. 40,000 young people, the equivalent of the population of a small town, enter care every year. These statistics are staggering and upsetting, perhaps even too great to fully understand, yet they inspire and empower Madlug to respond with practical ideas and solutions. Hopefully, you will also be inspired and empowered to “make a difference”, to use the phrase from which we adapted the name of our brand, to come alongside us in providing value, worth and dignity to these young people in care.

The Bag

We are regularly asked what exactly we mean when we say that for every Madlug bag that is purchased we gift “a bag” to a young person. After speaking with care-experienced young people about their wants and needs, we resolved that a bag should meet the following criteria:

  1. In order to prevent embarrassment and stigma for the young person, the bag should not be branded on the outside.

  2. It should be small enough to fold up into a sock drawer or a social worker’s car boot.

  3. It needs to fold out big to be able to carry all of the young person’s possessions however not too big that it discourages a child or young person with few belongings.

The neat and practical solution is a “pack away bag” that resembles a packable waterproof jacket. It not only meets all of the young person’s needs but also communicates the message that they are deserving of value, worth and chiefly dignity. They are enabled to carry their things without having to do so in a disposable black bin bag normally used for rubbish.

Also, because of the neat and small design of the pack away bags, Madlug is able to send off significant numbers of these bags throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland. Last year alone, we gave over 11,000 to social workers, foster carers and directly to young people and their family members. Every time one of you buys a Madlug bag, it enables us to provide a pack away bag to a young person. Your involvement is crucial and has such a positive impact on those in need!

How And Where We Give

In simple terms, the process is that trusts, local authorities, hospitals and even individual foster parents will get in touch with us. Our operational lead Gareth will liaise with them to determine their specific needs and then ship out the bags either as a one-time batch or in instalments as and when they are needed.

However, during the past five years, while Madlug’s mission has remained the same, the range and scope of what we do has widened. We are privileged to have been involved with so many different campaigns, organisations, charities and bodies across the United Kingdom and Ireland. There are too many to name here, and we are grateful for every opportunity to help young people in care, but to give you a flavour of the breadth of the work that Madlug continues to do, the following are some selected examples.

Impact So Far

Most recently, we have partnered with IKEA, who joined the movement by gifting each of their workers in stores across the United Kingdom a backpack. Consequently, we are now able to give over 12,500 pack away bags to young people in care. You can read more about this relationship here and we are super excited about the future opportunities this opens up for Madlug.

For the last two years, Madlug has run a Christmas campaign providing backpacks and pack away bags for care leavers. Each year we choose three areas to send bags. During the past two years, with your help, we have sent 300 bags to Birmingham, Ellesmere Port, Hackney, Huddersfield, Richmond and South London.

During lockdown last year, we created the Madlug Activity Book to not only provide a resource of activities for young children to fend off boredom but also as an educational tool to spread further awareness. For example, 264 of these books were sent to Suffolk Council for distribution. Over 1200 were donated to foster carers, foster care associates and Barnardo’s. More books were given to Storehouse, Belfast and Lurgan Community Area Aid.

We've provided pack away bags to the charities Who Cares? Scotland, Oxford Kindness Wave and St. Christophers, London. We are also working with Include Youth in Belfast to provide bags for their young people. Bags have been given directly to Epsom Hospital and the Rees Foundation, who support adults with foster care or residential care experience.

We have sent thousands of bags to Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Darlington, Donegal, Dundee, Gwynedd, Isle Of Wight, Lanarkshire, Liverpool, Norfolk, Salford, Warwickshire… so many places so far afield.

While the range of these locations and services again evidences just how many young people in care across the United Kingdom need our help, we would not be able to do so without your continued generosity and support. Your involvement, encouragement and contribution keep us focused on and excited about reaching out to those who most need our help.

How You Can Get Involved

To finish, we would like to invite you to join the Madlug movement. There are several simple ways in which you can help, and by doing so you can help us to make a real difference to the lives of young people in care.

  1. Buy a bag for yourself, friends, colleagues, clients and staff. Visit our websites www.madlug.com or www.madlugyourbusiness.com and you can browse the range of products that we offer, the purchase of which directly supports young people in need.

  2. Gift a pack away bag. An act of kindness is greatly appreciated, particularly by the young person whose life it impacts. You can do this yourself or on behalf of a friend or relative.

  3. Subscribe to Giving Monthly.

  4. Share the Madlug story with your friends, family or colleagues. Word of mouth and social media posts also help us. By using your voice, you give others a voice.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Hopefully, you have been inspired to join the Madlug movement to bring value, worth and dignity to young people in care.

We cannot do it without you.

Written by Ross Thompson

March 28, 2021 — Rebecca Teeney

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