A Richhill-based social enterprise – set up to support young people in care – has taken a central role in this year’s iconic Christmas advert from John Lewis.
The department store’s 2022 festive campaign entitled ‘The Beginner’ serves to raise awareness of more than 100,000 children and young people currently in the UK care system and the challenges they face moving from place to place – a concern that sparked Madlug’s inception in 2015.
Madlug believes no child should carry their life in a bin bag or in a plastic bag. Its ‘buy one give one’ model sees the Richhill company donate a pack-away travel bag to a child or young person in care every time one of their own bags is purchased.
The concept of Make a Difference Luggage caught the eye of retail giant John Lewis which has partnered with Madlug to sell its range of backpacks and shoulder bags in store and online – a partnership which led to the social enterprise bagging a role in the store’s iconic Christmas campaign.
Dave Linton, who established Madlug with just £500, said: “Each year the John Lewis advert is anticipated with almost as much excitement as Santa, and it is incredible that collectively we can shine a light on the hardships and upheaval faced by those in the care system.
“There are currently over 108,000 young people in the UK system with a new child entering the system every 15 minutes, and unfortunately, many find themselves transporting whatever belongings they have in black plastic bin bags.
“Madlug was founded in 2015 with the aim of tackling this issue and championing children in care by reminding them of their value, worth and dignity. The pack-away bags we donate are unbranded to avoid stigma and can be folded neatly into a sock drawer or a Social Worker’s car boot without wasting storage space.
“Over the last seven years we have worked with health trusts and local authorities to provide over 60,000 of these bags to vulnerable children across the UK.
“It is enormously encouraging to see a huge retailer such as John Lewis placing those in care at the heart of its Building Happier Futures campaign and of course, the viral Christmas advert.
“We are so grateful to have the opportunity to sell our products through John Lewis online and in selected stores, and for everyone who has supported us thus far because through choosing Madlug you are choosing to improve the life of a young person in care.
“Through our partnership with John Lewis we hope to not only raise awareness of the care issue, but to continue to make a lasting difference to the lives of as many young people in care as possible – not just this Christmas, but for many years to come.”
Earlier this year, Madlug became the first Northern Ireland lifestyle brand to achieve B Corp status, in recognition of the company’s social and environmental impact, and has been featured on a Christmas Gifts with Purpose segment on ITV’s This Morning with Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield.
The John Lewis Building Happier Futures programme is a long-term campaign which also features the brand’s charity partners, Who Cares? Scotland and Action for Children.
Rosie Hanley, Head of Brand for John Lewis, said: “This year we used our Christmas advert to shine a light on the experiences of people in care as we launched our Building Happier Futures programme. Our aim is to help people with care experience in multiple ways, including finding meaningful employment.
“Madlug’s ‘buy one, give one to a child in care’ model is another great way to directly help children in care – we are proud to stock their products as we collectively work to help improve the outlook of care experienced people.”
Madlug’s Classic Duffle Bag Holdall, Classic Backpack and the popular Roll-Top Backpack are available to purchase in a variety of colours from £38.99 at JohnLewis.com. For every bag sold, a bag will be donated to a child in care.