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Tackling deprivation in a crisis: Mustard Tree and the Oasis Centre

As part of our series recognising and supporting the hard work that is going on across the sector, and to celebrate #GivingTuesdayNow, we are highlighting the incredible way that organisations have remained focused on their mission to support people through this crisis.

Last week we drew attention to the Shared Health Foundation’s work with homeless families who are living in B&B accommodation in Manchester and their determination to ensure that these families are supported through the lockdown. Unsurprisingly, there has been escalating demand since the Covid-19 crisis hit.

Tragically there is nothing unique about the shortages encountered by the SHF team’s client group. Mustard Tree, a much-loved, 25-year-old Manchester charity that supports – amongst others – the city’s mainly adult homeless population, has also reported significantly increased demand in recent weeks, at the same time that many avenues for income generation and non-financial support have been closed off.

Although Mustard Tree’s art classes, music sessions, IT training, English classes and more have ceased for the time being, the team re-organised immediately to increase their provision of emergency food and toiletries for people who are street homeless, both from their hubs – observing government guidelines – and via delivery. People who have accommodation but are in pressing need of provisions but can’t venture out because they are self-isolating, are also being supported. Well over 600 people are being supported each week.

In Gorton in East Manchester, the Oasis Centre, established for 16 years, has had to mobilise its team to meet the challenges of this volatile environment. The Oasis community were expecting to move into their new, purpose built facilities around this time but this has been put on hold as they switch resources to the immediate priorities. Like Mustard Tree, the current crisis has seen the charity returning in part to its early mission – providing basic supplies, hot food and care over the phone to a community dealing with significant deprivation.

Both charities, like so many others in our city and beyond, have adapted at incredible pace and with unrelenting energy, still delivering on their most fundamental purpose, whilst ensuring that the most vulnerable people in our community are safe.

The need that these and other charities are meeting today is not going to disperse once the government’s restrictions are lifted. But when that time comes, we hope that they will be in good shape to return to delivering the range of holistic support that we know has been so vital in offering hope, encouragement and different choices to so many.

The Oglesby Charitable Trust is proud to have developed strong relationships with the people powering these two remarkable charities over several years. On this #GivingTuesdayNow we would encourage anyone wishing to contribute positively and practically to the huge effort involved in sustaining this work to find out more and pledge your support.