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You’ve opened our stories scrapbook where you can meet some of the inspirational people we’ve worked with along the way. No two people are the same, so neither are two scrapbook pages...

Maggie – the big heart behind The Big House


Meet Maggie, CEO and Director at The Big House in Hackney, East London.

I always jump in and hope that I can swim.
  • I am inspired by the young people that I work with.

  • My most important value is kindness.

  • If I could change one thing about this world it would be poverty. It is not natural, it is man made and I would eradicate it.

  • What keeps me going when I am having a bad day is my daughters, they read me so well and know when I need a hug and how to make me laugh.

  • What keeps me awake at night is my hiatus hernia.

  • My perfect Sunday is spent doing simple things. Reading the Sunday papers, pottering in the garden, listening to Marnie playing the piano, going for a bicycle ride with my girls and discovering the hidden corners and back alley ways of North London. Having a Sunday roast with the family and then watching Breaking Bad, or something equally brilliant, on box set.

  • My favourite animal is a Gazelle. When I was a baby, I spent my first few years in Kenya. Over the years I have watched the old home movies that my dad shot around the countryside of Mombasa and Nairobi and the gazelles he filmed are extraordinary. Elegant. Fleeting. Beautiful.

  • If I had to have a really heavy head or gravity defying arms I would have Gravity defying arms. I would just choreograph them into something strange and compelling. I studied contemporary dance and love playing with loose limbs!

  • If I was stranded on a desert island (indefinitely!) and could send only one message in a bottle to the new leader of The Big House it would be…

  • Always listen to the young people, guide them whilst giving them the confidence to lead. No one saves us but ourselves, help them to find the best path and to feel comfortable about stepping in their own shoes. Stock up on gin.

My background is in the theatre.
Seven years ago I did a production that required me to do quite a lot of research in a prison. I got in touch with a charity Only Connect and very quickly they asked me to direct a play for them.

I found that 40% at that time (I think it’s risen actually since then) of under 21's in prison had been in the care system. And that was really the beginning of this journey.

“I discovered that theatre was a fantastic tool to engage youngsters who may be alienated from authority or who have self-esteem or confidence problems.”

A highlight of my working life…

Directing a large-scale promenade production of A Christmas Carol inside Wormwood Scrubs for Only Connect. Against all the odds, which included directing a disappearing cast who would be regularly sent down the block, shipped off to another prison, released or taken off the project, we presented a production of which I am tremendously proud. The journey we all went on was extraordinary and the letters I received from the inmates who took part, will be treasured forever.

What makes me happiest about what I do is watching the young people at The Big House blossom.

What the cast had to say about Maggie

You can read about Maggie’s approach to theatre; Demystifying Drama at The Big House.

Read Ernest's Story Next »
  • £1,632,751 invested in social organisations through 48 financial grants

  • £195,078 donated to our partners through fundraising

  • 1,803 Days of expertise invested in our partners

  • 41 Partner
    supported through funding, expertise and connections


  • 22,907 Young
    improved as a result of our completed projects

  • 59 Events convened or hosted

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