Mustard Tree, owner of charity shop and help hubs, fears the demand of their services for deprived areas of Salford will only increase in the coming 14-28 months due to new bill increases and possible refugee response.
Mostly known for their services in Ancoats, Mustard Tree, provides a space for asylum seekers, refugees, families, and residents who live with the fear of poverty or lack of simple necessities in Salford areas of Eccles and Little Hulton.
Jack Barton, manager of communications for Mustard Tree, said that: “There’s always going to be a worry, there’s always going to be a concern for our demand, but part of our job is to worry on behalf of people, and advocate for them.
“All we can do really is focus on the successes, focus on listening to people to find out what they need, continue to be an open door, where we can invite anybody with faith, no faith, or any background, to try and work through whatever hardship that they’re experiencing at that time.”
The possible response from the Ukraine invasion, the existing challenges of the Afghan crisis, and the forthcoming sharp increase of cost-of-living bills this Friday, will increase the need for Mustard Tree’s services like its Food Club or its distribution of credit for furniture and other necessities.
This year the Food Club, an easy Mustard Tree member benefit where for £2.50 people can get ten times worth the food, its budgeting food cost of £250,000 for the next financial year.
Refugees are currently and will continue to get immediate registration for emergency food and clothing, with 25% to 100% off depending on their circumstances.
Jack said: “Of course we worry, because we do think the situation is getting worse before it gets better, but we need to work positively and proactively with people, especially in these areas, just so we can help understand what the situation is, but also trying to offer some hope.
“For instance, when a lot of Afghan refugees came over from Kabul, we kicked into gear to offer clothing donations, and prams and pushchairs.
“We offered one of our spaces as a respite area for a lot of families, so they could get out of their hotels, which were their accommodated at the time, we had pop up clothing shops for them, so they could take anything they needed.
“So, we can adapt to those influences. We will be also ready to support people coming to Manchester and Salford from Ukraine, making our services as accessible as possible. So, again, we will be able to adapt.”
Mustard Tree will extend their provisions based on demand, like their language support with the English Conversation Classes, or advice and support with one-to-one chats with residents, while teaching those unfamiliar with the government websites how to apply for certain benefits or official services.
Mustard Tree has already provided these services to refugees and international citizens from Afghanistan, Sudanese, and other countries in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.
Salford is in current need of these services, and mostly its most deprived area of Little Hulton, where residents (because of refurbishments and Covid) thought the Mustard Tree space had closed.
Jack said: “So, it’s quite clear that there’s a lot of demand here, and we need to make sure that we’re helping create opportunities for people.
“That’s one of the reasons that why where we base ourselves in some of the most deprived areas in the city.”
Jack Barton explained that the state of Little Hulton and Eccles, which was hit even worse in its market areas because of Covid, is a lack of proper investment for housing and support towards the most deprived areas of the city of Salford.
He said: “I think people need to understand that before, before the pandemic, before the cost-of-living crisis, people were already struggling, you know, you have families, individuals who are only just able to keep their head above water.
“And then once these external crisis hits, it was almost like a tsunami.
“So, it needs to be creating opportunity. It needs to be providing training, it needs to be helping people compete in the market. “
Courtney Handforth, co-ordinator for the Freedom Project, commented that Mustard Tree currently provides volunteering opportunities to as they claimed “anyone”.
Even with a lack of papers, or a lack of time in the UK, refugees and asylum seekers can join their volunteering opportunities like the Freedom Project, where people can get 6 months of experience in order to build on their work portfolio and get better opportunities.
She said: “If someone is with a us in the Freedom Project and don’t feel like they are making progress, and maybe it’s not right for them, we don’t want people to become demotivated.
“That’s finding that balance.
“We want people to stay on as a friend or volunteer but then not be progressing with their life, because the goal is to help them move forward.”
Mustard Tree hopes that with the Freedom Project they will begin to grow naturally and organically, as well as expand their awareness to expand across the city, so everyone can know of their services and their upcoming projects of cheap accommodations and food as well as essential provision services.