About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Date started: April 2015
Website: madlug.com
Twitter: @wearemadlug
Location: Based in Northern Ireland, and UK-wide

Dave Linton and his wife had been foster carers for over 10 years, then they took a break. When they tried to return to it they found that their apartment was not suitable, so Dave decided to help in a different way.

Children in care often arrive at new places with their belongings in bin bags, and he felt this was a loss of dignity: “how we treat people is how we value them.” In response, he founded Madlug CIC, a 'buy one give one' brand where every bag bought results in a bag being given to a child in foster care.

Working part-time, Dave started by collecting second-hand bags from friends and family and distributing them, then set about creating his own. He had no prior experience in the bag industry, but as a youth worker he was used to being creative on no budget.

The bags for consumers to buy were given a classic look and logo, because keeping the design simple made it easier to outsource. And Dave met with young people in care to find out what they wanted in their bags. “Suitcases felt more permanent to them, whereas duffel bags felt like going away for an overnight which made the move easier.” He tailored the design to their needs and kept the duffel bags unbranded so as to avoid stigma.

Madlug has now given away almost 1000 bags to children in care. This has partly been through the ‘buy one give one’ model, but also through direct purchases or requests.

Dave plans for Madlug to employ care leavers, and the ultimate goal is to get a bag into every social worker’s car in the UK and beyond. But more than just meeting the need for bags, he wants to get the story of Madlug around the world too: the brand that is “shouting from the rooftops that children in care have worth and have dignity.”