As further easing of restrictions is set to take place, a Greater Manchester charity has praised ForHousing for their support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mustard Tree, which supports people across Greater Manchester with access to low-cost food, clothing and furniture, saw the number of people turning to them for support rocket from 500 a month to more than 1,000 a week because of COVID-19.
After hearing the charity was struggling with the increased demand, ForHousing stepped in with £70,000 of funding to ensure that as many Salford residents as possible could be supported.
The landlord has further supported Mustard Tree by significantly reducing rent payments on the buildings it leases to the charity in Eccles and Little Hulton and supporting improvements to both hubs.
Mustard Tree also runs volunteer programmes through its enterprise arm that help people gain new skills, from working in a professional kitchen to collecting and delivering furniture items.
Mustard Tree CEO, Jo Walby commented: “Our long-standing relationship with ForHousing reached another level with this financial support and commitment to partnerships throughout COVID-19.
“By pro-actively working together, we have helped more people in more significant ways; expanding our Eccles site and redeveloping our Little Hulton hub.
“We’d like to say a big thanks to the whole ForHousing team.”
ForHousing, which owns and manages more than 24,000 homes across the North West, has worked in partnership with Mustard Tree for a number of years, with both organisations focused on combatting poverty and improving lives.
The landlord’s Tenancy Sustainability Service works with people so they can keep living independently in their homes and has referred more than 90 tenants to the charity since the pandemic hit.
Tenants have received advice around their finances, physical and mental health with Mustard Tree also gifting more than £11,000 worth of furniture.
Leia Partington, who lives in Little Hulton, was referred to Mustard Tree by ForHousing after enduring a heartbreaking couple of years.
The 43-year-old had already lost her son to a tragic a car accident, before a number of friends died during the pandemic.
Leia, who uses a wheelchair because of rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, was experiencing financial hardship and struggling to budget.
Together Mustard Tree and ForHousing were able to work with Leia to access a range of services. She is now being supported for her mental health and is getting her finances back on track.
She said: “I don’t know where I’d be without Mustard Tree. Without the food, the clothes, the furniture, I’d be on the floor.
“When my son died I didn’t even want to get out of bed. I only got up to feed the cat each day. I needed support around me to get me back on track.
“I’m living on benefits so I don’t have much money and the pandemic meant I couldn’t go anywhere – so being able to get food parcels and other help delivered to my door was amazing.
“People like Pascal who works for Mustard Tree pretty much saved me.
“You’ve got to be strong willed and strong minded and now I’m getting myself back on track with a positive mental attitude.”
ForHousing’s partnership with Mustard Tree is part of a huge range of support services the landlord has been offering to people across Salford during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The team worked with Salford CVS and NHS Salford Clinical Commissioning Group to arrange a medicine delivery service for more than 600 people who were unable to leave their homes due to shielding, with staff and volunteers delivering prescriptions.
A total of 139 homes were made available to local authorities, including Salford City Council, as temporary accommodation for people facing homelessness or unable to live in shared accommodation because of social distancing. Of those to move in, 49 families have gone on to secure permanent tenancies with ForHousing.
Staff volunteered more than 1,100 hours of their time to support the vaccine rollout, made more than 31,000 welfare calls to ensure tenants had access to the support they needed and delivered 469 wellbeing packs to tenants identified as needing a lift in lockdown.
Elsewhere, ForHousing has worked with Openreach to install gigabit-capable broadband to more than 12,000 homes in Salford and held a series of virtual Cash Chats workshops, which offer information for people wanting to feel more in control of finances.
Colette McKune Group Chief Executive at ForHousing said: “The past 15 months have been a huge challenge for so many people across Salford.
“They have lost loved ones, lost their jobs and seen an adverse affect on their wellbeing.
“We wanted to be there for as many people as possible. Our aim has been to respond to the challenge of the pandemic with speed and strength.
“We knew we had to be agile as an organisation and work with likeminded partners across Salford, such as Mustard Tree and Salford City Council who are also committed to improving lives and investing in communities.
“We’ve been here for people during the pandemic in whatever way we can, and we’ll continue to work with communities as they recover from COVID-19 by investing in homes and places and making more things possible for more people.”
Image: Leia Partington pictured with Pascal from Mustard Tree
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