The stage at Mustard Tree was set for an absolutely wonderful few hours. After a great lunch cooked by Chef Shaun and our kitchen team, everyone settled down in our performance area to listen to a few words from our CEO, Jo. She said “working with our freedom volunteers inspires us every day”. With almost 100 volunteers, the impact they make is astounding and it was fantastic to see so many there.
As our Freedom Volunteers help us to run the enterprise in every aspect of the charity and so because of them we could celebrate some really inspiring numbers of people they are helping every single day. Through our shop, café, warehouse, kitchen and office they are part of the front-line of our service delivery – providing support and crucial provision to those who are homeless, at risk of homelessness or just simply in need of some good quality low priced furniture! On Friday nights at Soup Run, we now serve around 100-120 every week and 950 families are supported across our three sites through our weekly Food Club. We physically couldn’t do this without our volunteers.
But now came the part everyone was waiting for – the Creative Showcase Act One! As well as volunteering and training, freedom volunteers are the beating heart of our creative programs. Song Club, who meet every Friday afternoon for a big sing-a-long and are the most over-subscribed club at Mustard Tree, were up first with wonderful performances of ‘Stand by Me’ and ‘Time after Time’.
Next, our stellar drama group, Tandem Theatre, performed ‘Hat Trick’ – exploring different character performances by wearing…hats! From a crown, to cowboys, and even a glittery top hat and feather bower or two, it was an all-dancing sensation.
They meet every week on Wednesdays 10-12 and are currently looking for more members. If you want to be part of a fun, friendly and super-supportive adult group, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or just come along on Wednesdays to Mustard Tree!
Volunteers were then given Volunteer Awards– celebrating those who had really shown each one of our values (link) Our values, as Jo described, are “about going back to the roots of Mustard Tree and expressing and cementing the feeling of the place that has always been felt”.
There were long lists of nominees! But the winners were as follows: Paul won the Belief award, Barry won Partnership, Clare won Dignity, Luke won opportunity and Sam won Diversity. Clare was also invited back up, much to her embarrassment to collect the Values Champion award, as the volunteer who has consistently shown all of our values to all our customers, volunteers and staff.
Our afternoon concluded with Creative Showcase Act Two. A performance from Haydn our guitar teacher and Jackie one of his students who had only been learning for four weeks of ‘Under the Boardwalk’, more songs and readings from our creative writing group.
For the finale, our music and lyric workshop leaders led everyone in a joint musical extravaganza, handing out tamborines, drums and cow bells to the audience and using different rhythms and sounds to build up a huge musical piece. No experience needed, just pick up an instrument and join in! This session runs every Tuesday at Mustard Tree focusing on people coming together to be creative and share experiences. They have now created over 10 songs from scratch in only a few weeks!
The feeling of togetherness and warmth in the room was amazing as every aspect of our volunteers contributions had been celebrated. As the event came to an end, each volunteer was greeted with a personalised envelope of messages and kind words about them and their contributions. Amanda said “I can’t believe people said those things about me, I didn’t know people thought that!” Lorna, Kushwant and Norm (below) all from our kitchen team, were all in tears reading the messages to each other. That is what volunteering is all about; if you experience positivity you will give it out in your community and relationships and believe in your ability to make a positive impact.
Thankyou to everyone for coming and the difference you make everyday.
Our short piece about who Freedom volunteers are and why they’re so important to Mustard Tree is here. Please check it out!