Our second momentous day, for absolutely everyone at Mustard Tree, was our Afternoon Tea Official Opening Party! We may have been open for six weeks already, but this day was about celebrating with everyone that had supported us and got 110 Oldham Road to this point.
If people knew the old Mustard Tree, they knew it was very cold in winter, and hot in summer. The roof leaked when it rained and there was a hole in one of the windows letting all the Manchester elements in. We had sheds downstairs that stored art supplies and work in them to try to prevent damage. But regardless, the most important thing about that building was how it made people feel when they walked through the doors.
No matter if you were staff, a long-time regular of the shop or someone in need of advice and support – you were always welcome at Mustard Tree. It felt like home. No matter your background, or things you carried with you, there would be hot cuppa, a friendly face and a comfy seat or lovely stock to browse. People were treated with respect and compassion and in turn treated each other the same.
Now we may look a little different. We have a fixed roof. We have a huge art studio, performance space and central space that we welcomed ov
er 100 people into for our Afternoon Tea event. We have proper meeting rooms and private spaces for 1-2-1 mentoring and support for our volunteers, forming the backbone of what we do in providing opportunities and encouraging wellbeing.
We have a new look shop with more space and a respite area for those who are vulnerable to take a load off. All of our guests, many of whom had not seen the new building yet, were absolutely stunned at the transformation. It was so special to have staff, our volunteers, funders and partners all celebrating together with us.
However the most important thing was how they said it felt. Jo Walby, our CEO, in her welcoming to everyone said “this building is an expression of how dedicated we are to our mission and how deserving everybody who comes here is, of this aspirational space.” Bronwen Rapley, our Chair of Trustees, said “this building is now the seed to see where the charity can grow. This is not the journey’s end, this is the beginning of reaching out to so many more people– creating a community that heals itself”.
But the main thing people commented on was the feel. It bustled. It was person-centred. It felt welcoming and homely. Love and happiness in the room. We may be unrecognisable, but it’s the feeling that you remember.
After a wonderful afternoon of talks, teacakes and tours we just want to say thankyou to every single one of our attendees – whether you helped plan and build, donated vital time, furniture or finances, helped to lift, shift and paint tirelessly over our moving week or a combination of all of the above, we are so grateful to all of you. There are far too many people and organisations to name, but you have all helped to realise our Mustard Tree vision, together.