Gary — one of Mustard Tree’s volunteers — shares his experience of giving time with the charity under lockdown 2.0.
The Government’s announcement of a further lockdown on 4th January 2021 meant that Mustard Tree needed to refocus its plans back to the provision of food and emergency support onsite to those who needed it.
Finding a purpose
“I started to know Mustard Tree this year during the Covid-19 pandemic and so far I love 2021 despite the doom and gloom. I saw Mustard Tree opposite the Chinese supermarket Wing Yip, and that made me curious to go and see.
At first I was isolated from the world and struggled to deal with the fact that no one around me accepted me. On the outside, I didn’t appear damaged but inside I was broken mentally.
I never thought furniture could change lives
Under Covid-19 lockdown rules, Mustard Tree has been restricted in what it can offer to its clients through the Community Shop and focused on food and emergency support. As an essential service however, the charity is able to continue to provide free furniture to people who have previously been homeless and since acquired a new tenancy.
“We gift around 40% of the furniture we get donated from our kind supporters” — says Lindsey, Mustard Tree’s retail manager. “It means that we can give people a hand-up when they first get their new tenancy, having come out of homelessness. In a lot of cases, people will get accommodated, but into an empty property — they might not have a sofa to sit on, or even a bed to sleep in”.
A man cried when we were delivering his bed and sofa
Gary found some reflection whilst giving his time as a ‘Friend of’ volunteer at Mustard Tree.
“Learning about Mustard Tree whilst I was volunteering transformed my thinking on how we tackle poverty and homelessness. I never would have thought furniture would changed lives.
I am amazed that the staff in Mustard Tree have the resources and strategies to effectively help families in need of food, rent, employment, furniture and emotional support.
The things I love are how friendly the staff were to me and how heartwarming I felt when a man cried with joy when I was delivering his bed and sofa with Haydn.
“People will get accommodated, but into an empty property — they won’t have a sofa to sit on, or even a bed to sleep in”.
Most importantly I saw the visions and values in everyone from the clients, volunteers and staff. Although I was out on the vans with Haydn, I have paid attention to as much as I can.
I won’t be volunteering for much longer and I wish I could offer even more. In 2021 I hope that the Mustard Tree continues to change lives and save families.
Gary has since found full-time employment and is moving away from Manchester — all the team at Mustard Tree wish him all the best for the future.