Christmas appeal: literacy charity Hackney Pirates needs help to get shipshape again

Schools Week is making a Christmas appeal for our readers to help an education charity that was left “shipwrecked” after a car crash destroyed its boat-themed building.

Hackney Pirates, in east London, has run literacy sessions since 2010 for pupils who are “both falling behind and facing disadvantages in their personal circumstances”.

A group of 12 workers, including three former teachers, run “targeted and preventive intervention” for 160 pupils through the “weird and wonderful” building, known as the “ship of adventures”.

The boat-themed teaching space includes a deck, navigator’s office and ideas room.

But disaster struck on Saturday when a car crashed into the building’s front, leaving it “smashed and destroyed”.

Nobody was injured luckily, but it has left us in a disastrous situation

Catriona Maclay, Hackney Pirates founding director (also known as the captain), said: “It has left us shipwrecked.”

Staff were at work when the car crashed into the building at 12.40pm. “We were fortunate the car didn’t go further in,” Maclay said. “Nobody was injured luckily, but it has left us in a disastrous situation.”

The building also includes coffee facilities and a bookshop that displays and sells the work of pupils who learn with the charity – just days before the busiest time of the year.

“Like with any major incident, we are only working out the implications now,” Maclay said. “But there are costs to the charity and our facilities.

“It is catastrophic for the trading activities and the shop because it is a gift shop and it is closed a week before Christmas. It is having a big impact on our time and ability to get on with teaching our pupils.”

Schools Week is calling on the education community to help the charity get back up and running in time for their next sessions at the start of January.

“We are desperately asking for donations to help us to catch up or just to get back up to speed,” Maclay said.

“We need people to donate to help us keep going over Christmas and to start 2017 ready to support young people.

“Please do get in touch with us about activities. We really don’t want people to see us as the charity that had the car crash.”

She said the group had been “deeply humbled” by offers of help.

“Any further support will help us and the young pirates to get back on track to make sure we can make lots more adventures and learning in 2017.”

Hackney Pirates has set up a dedicated webpage for donations and to explain what the charity does.

For more information, go to

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