Charities Interviews

“Our focus is on tackling both the causes and consequences of poverty.” | Jack Barton on how Mustard Tree takes on homelessness through compassion and creativity

What is Mustard Tree’s mission?

We create opportunities for people to help themselves through providing practical support, friendship, connections into work, improvements to health and wellbeing plus new experiences to encourage aspiration.

What are the main things you do to help tackle homelessness?

We help people to change their lives, secure better accommodation and economic wellbeing. Our focus is on tackling both the causes and consequences of poverty and homelessness. We welcome people from across Greater Manchester to our Community Shops in Ancoats, Eccles and Little Hulton offering access to low cost food through the food club, clothing and household essentials such as furniture, pots and pans.

How does your person-centred approach influence your work?

We support our clients by offering a listening ear and referrals into different agencies for temporary housing. We particularly work with the more crisis-centric charities in Greater Manchester such as the Booth Centre, Barnabus, Coffee4Craig, etc. Advocacy is a big part of our crisis offer and we ensure that everyone who visits us is being signposted effectively.

What motivated you to take on both the causes and consequences of homelessness?

Our founders Dave and Shona Smith started Mustard Tree out of their spare room at home, by collecting pieces of unwanted furniture and gifting the items to those in need. This is still at the heart of what we do, amongst our other activities. We want to help reduce the gap because we believe this will be beneficial for society as a whole.

What inspired you to launch creative activities that tackle poverty of experience?

There’s a clear link between homelessness and mental health, and our holistic, flexible, person-centred approach in a safe and welcoming space enables people to ultimately achieve greater resilience and wellbeing. Many people come to our drop-in sessions as it gives them something to do and takes their mind off whatever hardship they are experiencing at the time.

What do you think are the most important things that need to change for society to be better equipped to support vulnerable and homeless people?

Reinvestment in public services, particularly mental health, as well as fixed-rents by private landlords. Educating pupils and students about the causes of homelessness from an early age will help change perception around the issue.

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to make a difference in their community?

Please get in touch with us or any of the other local homelessness charities, as there are many ways to contribute, whether it’s through fundraising, clothing/food donations or volunteering.

Please email information@mustardtree.org.uk to find out more!


Donate to our fundraiser for Mustard Tree’s COVID-19 emergency response fund here.


Jack will be talking more about the work Mustard Tree does, how people can access its resources and how people can support the charity at Blizzard on Monday 24th February.

Book your free ticket here.

You can find out more about Mustard Tree by checking out the charity’s website and following them on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

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