Co-operative Credit Union worker Matthew Watkins is a regular volunteer, in his spare time, for the excellent Mustard Tree charity. “I volunteer at the ‘soup run’, which is a ‘soup kitchen’ that opens every Friday evening, between 7-9pm, for the homeless and those living in sheltered accommodation”. He added, “Often there are some people that are struggling to survive, so we give them a place to sit and rest and some food and drink. Typically, they are provided with soup, a main meal and a pudding, as well as tea and coffee”
Mustard Tree was established as a charity in 1994 by Dave and Shona Smith who started by taking food and drink onto the streets and spending time listening to those sleeping rough. The charity is now based across two sites; a large warehouse facility in Ancoats, and a retail outlet in Eccles Precinct, both in Greater Manchester.
Matthew explained, “They work annually with over 4,500 registered clients. The majority of the clients are referred from statutory agencies such as Manchester City Council teams, the Probation Service, the NHS, and Housing Associations. The Mustard Tree provide life support and promote sustainable solutions through the provision of food, clothing, furniture, training and enterprise. The volunteers’ duties are to serve the food and the tea and coffee, and also washing up and clearing up after the Kitchen closes. We are encouraged to talk to the clients, and provide them with a friendly face and to show them kindness and respect”.
Credit union CEO, Linda Edwards said, “We are proud to promote the voluntary work in which Matthew is involved. In particular this appears a simple way to volunteer, as there is no specific training involved, you just need a desire to help those that need it the most. It is a generous thing for volunteers to do, but it directly benefits the marginalized in society, and you can have a direct and positive effect on others’ lives, if only briefly”.