Mustard Tree’s Future Focus – Life After Lockdown

What did Mustard Tree do before Covid-19?

For over 25 years, the Mustard Tree charity has been supporting and creating opportunities for people and communities in Manchester and Salford.

We tackle both the causes and consequences of poverty and aim to prevent homelessness across the region. Working with over 6000 people a year, Mustard Tree:

  • Helps people learn new skills, find work and secure accommodation
  • Provides furniture, clothing and items needed to create a home through our three community shops and drivers who pick up donations and deliver to our clients
  • Offers training, work placements, job clubs and we welcome people into our warm, safe, aspirational spaces for arts, creative and vocational activities
Response during Covid-19 Crisis (March 23rd to June 30th 2020)

Mustard Tree supports people who may be isolated and in need of financial support including pensioners, local residents as well as people who are living in hostels and on the streets. Since the Covid-19 outbreak in March 2020, our priority has been to safely remain open to support our people, particularly to access food, within public health guidelines.

During the first three months of lockdown, we supported 4,648 families. People have visited us for food or had food deliveries over 14,500 times in three months. We have given food, toiletries, clothes to over 1000 people living in extreme poverty

This includes 360 people who shared that they were homeless with no fixed abode. We will continue to provide sleeping bags, rucksacks, and emergency items for those sleeping on the streets as long as the numbers are increasing.

We are currently supporting over 1000 people a week through our Food Clubs, emergency packages and food deliveries across Greater Manchester. Before Covid-19, we were supporting 500 people a month with food.

During this time, there have been countless personal stories that have touched us all including finding older people with no cooking facilities, family of four living in one room, father and son living on the streets. The feedback we have had has been overwhelming and has reinforced the mission of Mustard Tree to combat poverty and prevent homelessness.

Thank you

This was only possible with the support from special donors, trusts, our corporate partners, local churches, community groups, Manchester City Council, Salford CVS, Northwards Housing, Manchester United Foundation, our Trustees, 43 dynamic individuals who volunteered every day as well as an amazing staff team whose bravery and commitment has been awe-inspiring.

Our Community Shop looked very different during lockdown, as we transformed our spaces in response to Covid-19

The support and kindness of local Greater Manchester residents who have donated everything from tins to trainers (as well as cash) has kept us all going – thank you.

What next?

Covid-19 is a greater health risk for people on low incomes (Joseph Rowntree Foundation)

Covid-19 is hitting the poorest hardest (The Kings Fund – Office of National Statistics data)

Non-payment of household bills increased sharply after lockdown and is increasing further (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

Although the health crisis may now be stabilising, the economic impact is likely to be felt long after the lockdown due to increasing unemployment, debt, and evictions. Evidence as outlined above shows that the impact is felt the most by those who have the least. Our focus will continue to be on providing food, cost effective furniture and essential items to those in need and we will also try to help people find ways out of crisis and into opportunities to improve wellbeing.

Our approach will be Food, Furniture and Freedom

Food

  • Specialist Delivery Offer– deliver to those who have to shield for health reasons or have other urgent care needs – providing direct access and addressing food poverty
  • Food clubs – enabling people to shop for food items worth £10 for £2.50. Providing choice and dignity and alleviating the financial pressure of the weekly shop
  • Emergency support – food and essential supplies for those people sleeping on the streets and families in temporary B&B’s. Offering empathy for those most in need.

Furniture

  • New online booking system making it easier for people to donate furniture to be sold in the shops or gifted to people who need it
  • Covid-Secure community shops providing everything pre-loved from beds to books, wardrobes to washing machines, pans to picture frames
  • Gifting furniture to help people set up homes after homelessness through vouchers for those with new tenancies, offering comfort and security after crisis

Freedom

  • Developing skills and personal expression through arts, music, and online creative courses – building a wealth of experiences
  • Creating confidence in communication through English language courses so people can seize job opportunities and improve financial wellbeing
  • Job clubs and small number of vocational trainees on work placements with Mustard Tree, building experience and skills around employability
  • Advocacy, action and 121 drop-in support for those facing financial hardship and so directly helping those facing eviction and sanctions – preventing homelessness

For any queries about Mustard Tree’s Future Focus, please email information@mustardtree.org.uk or call 0161 228 7331.