For over 20 years Mustard Tree has been a Greater Manchester based charity committed to providing life support for the homeless and marginalised. We support communities where ‘poverty and disadvantage remain a key challenge’ and where ‘levels of unemployment and economic inactivity are amongst the highest nationally’ (Manchester Poverty Commission, 2013). For those facing homelessness and the greatest disadvantage, we seek to open doors to a better future. Our involvement begins with the provision of life support such as providing emergency food, clothing and furniture and quickly progresses to sustainable solutions which is offered through our work readiness and life skills programme, the Freedom Project. We aim to improve the life skills, resilience and well-being of our clients so they have the choice and opportunity to move into employment, training or volunteering.
Why are we called Mustard Tree?
Mustard Tree was named by its founder, Dave Smith, who was inspired by one of the parables told by Jesus. It is found in Matthew chapter 13, verses 31-32.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
There are many ways in which we still find these words relevant to the work we do today. Here are three:
Mustard starts out life as a tiny seed, yet grows into an enormous shrub the size of a tree. Compared to the soup run started two decades ago, the size and scope of the work we do now is huge.
Jesus’ Jewish audience would have been fully aware that their religious laws did not allow mustard to be planted in their tidy herb gardens, precisely because it grows to such an unruly size. His parable was therefore a countercultural message, just as we believe ours to be as an organisation.
Likewise, “the birds of the air” referred to by Jesus were also deemed unclean by Jewish law. His message about God’s kingdom was that it was a place of welcome for those who were frequently rejected by “civilized” society. At Mustard Tree we aim to provide a home for those who have not always found themselves welcomed elsewhere.
Our Faith and Values
The founders of the charity were inspired to work with people who were homeless and marginalised by the life, example and teachings of Jesus. Following in his footsteps, we treat those in need and in poverty as equals, taking time to listen and invest in each individual. We believe in and value all who come to us for help, recognising that all have something to teach us and to give to us.
We adopt a non-judgmental approach and treat all who come as equally valuable, regardless of race, faith, sexuality, gender or social standing.
We recognise that as well as physical, social and emotional needs, people also have spiritual needs. As with all our services we will try to help meet these needs if the individual is seeking it. We believe that everyone has a God-given potential to be a ‘giver’, and to be the source for meeting someone else’s needs.