Barry’s Story

Barry’s Story

Barry gives an insight into his journey through Mustard Tree’s life-skills and employability training programme ‘Freedom’, to becoming the charity’s Clearance Leader.

Barry came to Mustard Tree after suffering a breakdown and losing all hope. Now he leads Mustard Tree’s clearance team and is proud to be making a difference.

“I was totally torn to pieces”.

“I was left extremely distressed from the consequences of a breakdown in 1995. Things gradually got worse, up to the point where I was psychotic. More things happened which dragged me deeper and deeper – my Dad passed away in 2001, one week before my daughter’s first birthday. I continued to suffer for years from anxiety, depression and panic attacks – these various events just totally tore me to pieces.

I honestly wanted to go back into work, but I didn’t feel I could. I was worried about how I would react if someone spoke to me in the wrong way”.

In 2010 the job centre referred Barry to Mustard Tree, and after speaking to the staff, decided to join the Freedom Project – our life-skills and employability training programme.

“I was still a bit apprehensive after my first week, asking myself why I was doing this and what am I getting out of it, but the staff were so supportive and put an arm around me. After a month or so, I’d look forward to getting up and coming to Mustard Tree, because of the atmosphere, help and support the people around you give – and the way they make you feel.

I spent most of my time training on the vans with the team and working in the warehouse. I didn’t want to be stuck inside, and this gave me the space I needed to get my head straight.”

Barry eventually had the confidence to work again, and secured a role through his brother. Sadly it was short-lived, but this time Barry was feeling more resilient.

“I got laid off and came back to Mustard Tree, as I knew they would help me stay positive. Some had changed, it felt different than before. A couple of months later, an opportunity had come up with the clearance team – Mustard Tree were looking for someone to cover a position helping clearing social houses that had become empty, collecting usable furniture and making the home liveable again.

Barry with members of the Mustard Tree clearance team

Barry is now Clearance Leader at Mustard Tree and trains people on our Freedom Project, who are looking to develop and grow in the same way he has done.

“We clear social housing when people move out of them, so they can be put back on the market as soon as possible for people who need them.

“Mustard Tree runs through my blood”

Barry is now enjoying his role as Clearance Leader, and loves giving something back – not only to Mustard Tree, but to the wider communities.

“We’re clearing empty houses to make them available for people who don’t have somewhere to call home. Mustard Tree helps people who are in danger of becoming homeless. My team are there to make these properties available to people in need. Mustard Tree is my calling – it runs through my blood.”

You can download our Freedom Project Enquiry (Ancoats Hub) Form for our central Manchester hub, or the Freedom Project Enquiry (Salford Hub) Form for our Salford hubs.  Email it to us at

You can also of course post it to us – find us here or for further information, please call us on 07803 428 709 / 0161 850 2282.

Click here form more information about our Freedom Project and how we can help.

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