“It makes no fiscal sense, no sense to the community, and no sense to the children,” Katie said. “I decided to make a difference. So, I left my job and set up Ordinary Magic in 2019.” Ordinary Magic supports students’ educational and health plans in schools.
“Just as we were starting to get sustainable, everything stopped.”
In the year prior to Covid, they worked with 1,500 children. “Within the first six weeks of Covid that shot up to 2,000 children.” Katie worked 80-hour weeks during the pandemic.
Covid saw a rise in domestic violence and financial worries tearing through homes. Nine of the children they support lost a significant carer – such as a parent – due to Covid: “Children have been affected by the worst imaginable trauma.”
Statutory services, she said, were ‘firefighting continually’. Ordinary Magic aims to dampen down the flames before they got out of control
Ordinary Magic wasn’t entitled to government support as they didn’t operate from their own building and hadn’t been trading long enough.
“We were supporting double the children pre-Covid, with no money.”
Charitable grants got them through the worse periods.
“I’m lucky to have an amazing team behind me and we’re very adaptable. We said, ok, what are the other ways we can trade effectively?”
In December 2020, Key Fund gave them a £60k grant and loan to set up a community coffee shop, The Magic Bean.
“The coffee shop is about providing a place where people can come back together in a safe and supportive way, and feel welcome and included. We’ve had lots of new mums for example who said they feel so alone.”
It also signposts to other services available locally.
With low business rates, favourable rent and Kickstarter schemes, the coffee shop opened in May 2021. Katie works with parent-led community groups to use the space, and has a strong network across Solihull.
She feels they’ve emerged stronger.
“Everyone has had to work at such a fast pace. All staff had training in delivering support via video conferencing. Now we deliver so many programmes online that really do work. That in itself has cut costs.”
The coffee shop has created eight new jobs. Profits will fund support for local children who have suffered from adverse experiences. She plans a second coffee shop in the area in three years’ time. Her ten-year plan is to purchase a community therapy space. “All children are in need at the moment because they’ve faced a collective trauma. We need more community services out there, and the Key Fund helped us become a key stakeholder.”
Total invested: £60,000