Events – be they sporting, artsy, or baked-bean-baths – help keep Mustard Tree running, our services operating, and over 10,000 people a month supported.
As part of our Give Back campaign, we want to celebrate and highlight our brilliant community of fundraisers: the impact they have and the vital funds they raise.
And where better to start than with Brigitte, Mustard Tree’s own Super-Star Support Worker!
During her time with us, she has completed Tough Mudders, Great Manchester Runs and – most recently – ran the Manchester Marathon on April 16th to raise awareness, spirits, and over £1000 to help Mustard Tree continue to combat poverty and prevent homelessness across Greater Manchester.
Could you talk about what you do – and how you got started – at Mustard Tree?
I started out at Mustard Tree as a volunteer, during the first lockdown in 2020. This place was a beacon of hope for me in the dark days of Covid and coming in, helping others helped get me through. Now I’m a Support Coordinator at Mustard Tree – part of the team full-time and helping give people the same welcome I had. Hopefully being that same beacon of hope for others.
What does a day look like for you on the support team?
On support, our role is to provide a warm welcome, reassurance and as much help as we can.
This starts with an ‘assessment’ where we have a chat with the client about their situation, what support they need from Mustard Tree. We have people come to us from all walks of life, with very different problems and in very different circumstances. We see a daily footfall of over 330 people in our Ancoats hub, which means the Support Team have to be flexible.
Thousands of people need access to food, furniture, clothing, toiletries (and more) and we help them do this. Lots of our clients need more in-depth support around crisis situations, support with benefits and accommodation. These can be long appointments, where we’re with a client for hours. We want to give that person as much time as we can.
It varies day-to-day how busy it will be. Depending on what classes & clubs are on, or if it’s a ‘Hub Day’ when the Street Engagement Hub [a multi-agency support service, helping Mustard Tree provide 121 support] is hosted on-site.
Typically, we register 550 new clients a month. That’s people new to the charity, disclosing a need, or in circumstances where they need some consistency, a hand up.
How is the atmosphere, mood amongst our clients right now?
It is much busier over the last year with footfall doubling. There are many people that come to us at the end of their tether. The cost-of-living emergency is really hitting people hard.
We have been having people asking if we have an ‘Energy Bank’ to help with topping up fuel.
People who register and access our Food Clubs are often really relieved. However temporary, it’s a problem solved.
What motivated you to run the marathon for Mustard Tree?
I’m seeing people pushed beyond acceptable levels of poverty. So it felt right to challenge myself and push myself out of my comfort zone to try and make a difference. Running on behalf of a cause both spreads the word and raises some much-needed funds.
What’s been the hardest part of training/preparing?
Having to get out my warm bed on a cold rainy morning to go out for a long run has definitely been a challenge! It reminds me though how lucky I am to have that, and it motivates me to get out and keep running.
Do you plan on keeping up the running, now that the Marathon’s finished?
I think running the Manchester Marathon on Sunday has made me realise…I prefer shorter distances! I’ll join ‘Team MT‘ for the 10k Tough Mudder in July. I did it last year in the October rain so – by comparison – this year should be idyllic!
How can people across Greater Manchester help?
I believe that if you’re in a position to help, you should. Whether that’s donating money, time, skills, taking part in events, or just telling your friends about us, it all makes a massive difference and it all positively impacts our community.
Mustard Tree does really great work, but we can only continue to do it with your support. Please spread the word and dig deep into those pockets!
There’s still time to donate to her page here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/brigitte-greenham6
And if you’re wondering how you can help, joining our events (like Tough Mudder) or running your own, please email firstname.lastname@example.org!