It’s now been six months since our Little Hulton branch opened and we thought it would be a good time for an update on its progress.
First, a little background: we chose Unit 50 in the heart of Little Hulton for our newest branch because we recognized the need for Mustard Tree’s services in the local community, as well as the wider Salford area. Historically, we have always had clients from the Salford area and wanted to provide a more convenient alternative to our Ancoats HQ.
Between that realisation and it actually happening a long time passed, but the branch became a reality in November last year. We couldn’t have managed it without great support from the landlords City West, Salford Council, Churches Together and the Oglesby Charitable Trust. Thanks to support from various organisations and individuals, we are now in a great position to make a real difference.
Since November we have become established in the community, providing furniture, electricals, clothing and food to local residents. It quickly became apparent that the need for these services is even more pronounced than we expected.
In six months we have inducted and trained 21 local volunteers, two of whom have already moved into employment and three others have accessed additional training courses. Many of them are rebuilding their confidence, enjoying the opportunity to socialise, developing their customer service skills and generally demonstrating what valuable people they are. Particular congratulations go to Kylie, who is developing her leadership skills through our Leadership Faculty, and to Louise, who after a short spell with us has moved on into permanent work.
In terms of people actually using our services, we have registered a total of 620 clients, carried out a total of 702 discounted furniture sales and issued 126 City West Furniture vouchers.
Jocylin, our Food Club Co-ordinator, has piloted our Food Club, which aims to tackle food poverty in the area. It launched on February with a target of 70 members by November 2015; a target which was reached in less than three weeks of the launch!
Working with Fareshare – who tackle food waste across the UK – we are providing a choice of low-cost healthy food to our clients. We have averaged 30 paying members per week over the eight weeks that the Food Club has been operational. Having successfully trialed it in Little Hulton, Jocylin is now implementing it in the Preston Centre, our Ancoats branch.
Freedom Project and Other Courses
We will start running our Freedom Project in Little Hulton in the autumn. This is one of Mustard Tree’s most important projects, a 20-week course that enables participants to gain life skills and transferable skills for future employment. We also aim to launch our Ready for Work Club in the autumn, assisting our clients in finding permanent work.
We have been lucky enough to have inspiration training courses from other charities and local authority services. Salford Health Improvement team delivered their ‘Footsteps’ course in positive thinking and Banana Enterprise are training 9 clients in the basics of how to start their own business.
Kylie has launched our Women’s Support Group, which had its first meeting on the 15th May.
The reaction from locals and volunteers has been very positive. Some of the things we’ve heard from people, show just how valuable the Little Hulton branch has become in such a short time.
“I wish there was more places like this.”
“This is the most helpful project there is in Little Hulton”
“If it stopped it would be hard for single parent families”
“I enjoy volunteering at Mustard tree because it helps with making friends. It gives me more experience at working the computers and getting to know about more things to help me with my confidence.” said Mark, a Little Hulton Volunteer.
At the moment there are still improvements to be made to our services and most of our activity is restricted to Little Hulton. There are other deprived areas around us in Farnworth, Swinton and parts of Walkden that we know are in need of our services. The plan for the future is to help the people in those areas too.
Written by Jamie Faulkner, FireCask.