Covid-19 Response Appeal

The Mustard Tree – Covid-19 Urgent Response Appeal

We at the Mustard Tree recognise the need for local communities to stand together and support one another at this time. As a result, we have chosen to join with other statutory and voluntary organisations in the One Reading Community Hub. This hub has been created by Reading Borough Council to coordinate services for Reading residents needing extra support during the current Coronavirus outbreak.

We are using our years of local knowledge, existing projects and partnerships and our network of volunteers to help meet the unique needs of this international crisis on a local level. Our existing focus on unmet needs and vulnerable people facing issues surrounding loneliness and isolation, have meant that we are well placed to provide a local response across Reading. Our small infrastructure and the flexibility of our staff team have allowed us to be proactive and innovative in unexpected circumstances. We are continuing to support our existing service users, while finding new ways to offer expanded support to those who need it most.

In common with many small local charities, our biggest challenge is finding the financial and human resources to meet the expanding need as this crisis unfolds. We operate on limited resources and with minimal contingencies in our day to day provision. Increased local need has led to a requirement for us to increase our capacity to offer creative community-based solutions in unprecedented times. We recognise that many are facing financial challenges at the moment, but we would ask you to consider donating to the Mustard Tree Covid-19 Urgent Response Appeal. All donations will go to providing local support for vulnerable people across our town. A donation in any amount will make a positive difference.

Our Response

As you can imagine, our staff are facing challenging personal circumstances and yet through their dedication, hard work and flexibility we are pleased to be able to say that we are already offering the following services via our projects:

Engage Befriending:

Our well-respected befriending service for lonely and isolated older people has risen to the challenge. They are now offering a telephone befriending service for vulnerable over 55s focussing especially on those who are self-isolating alone. Since the current government restrictions came into effect, Engage Befriending has recruited 80 new volunteers. The demand for this service keeps growing, and as a result there is a need to increase service capacity quickly. Volunteer applications need to be processed and new volunteers need to be vetted, trained and matched with service users. Equally new referrals also need to be assessed and matched with an appropriate befriender. Therefore, we need to increase staffing hours for the existing team. As people’s time in isolations continues, we anticipate the need for this service will continue to grow. A donation to the Mustard Tree Covid-19 Urgent Response Appeal in any amount, will help us to provide this increased capacity. It will ensure a minimum of a 20 minute phone call twice a week each to check on the health and wellbeing of older people in our town.

Starting Point:

Our ever expanding and endlessly creative mentoring project for young people not in education employment or training, continues to engage with its clients. The Starting Point team have worked hard to move their projects and services online. Starting Point continues to offer the following services:

Remote Mentoring – Mentoring over video chat, phone call or email for anyone aged 11-19 who is in education or aged 15-25 who is not in education, employment or training. – https://startingpoint.org.uk/news/remote-mentoring

Social Media Challenges – Starting Point Instagram run social challenges – combating social isolation, reducing boredom, teaching new skills and connecting the community. https://startingpoint.org.uk/news/social-media-challenges/ Follow: @statingpointreading  on Instagram.

Action Media Training  – Action Media is a young person led production company that will be offering online training and setting tasks around camera work, digital media and marketing. –  https://startingpoint.org.uk/news/action-media-training/  Follow: @actionmedia on Instagram

 A significant proportion of Starting Point mentees have additional needs due to learning difficulties and poor mental health. Many do not cope well with changes in routine and often struggle with anxiety, lack of confidence and depression. Sadly, Starting Point has mentees for whom home is not really a safe place to take shelter. These factors lead to extra difficulties for already vulnerable young people in such challenging times. It is therefore, of the utmost importance that Starting Point continue to offer support to young people in as many ways as possible.A donation in any amount to the Mustard Tree Covid-19 Urgent Response Appeal, will help to ensure that vulnerable young people across our town continue to receive mentoring support.

Rahab:

Due to the client group Rahab supports, and the nature of the project’s activities, this project has been hit hardest by the current restrictions. We have worked in partnership with our voluntary sector and council partners, to ensure our clients were provided with suitable accommodation to stay in.  Rahab has now had to pause its services. This was not an easy decision, but under the current circumstances it was simply not possible to offer either the evening outreaches, or the daytime support. We are continuing to work hard to ensure that the Rahab project will be able to get up and running again as soon as it is safe to do so. A donation in any amount to the Mustard Tree Covid-19 Urgent Response Appeal will help ensure Rahab is able to hit the ground running in future.

New Opportunities to Meet Local Needs

We are in the process of expanding our telephone befriending support to people under 55.  This is a need that has emerged from the requests coming through the Community Hub.  We hope to be able to offer this service next week.

Our CEO is working with The One Reading Community Hub to ensure all vulnerable people in isolation can be supported.   She is currently partnering with RVA and local churches to provide a shopping service, by helping to develop a hub infrastructure using teams who are properly vetted and checked.  This minimises the risk of vulnerable people being victims of exploitation.  The clear referral networks will help ensure the response can be quick, and it also joins people with the full range of support services across the town.

Please help us provide this support by donating what you can through our local giving page. Donate Now

We continue to be very grateful to all those who are volunteering to help and supporting us in prayer. Thank you for helping us to help our local community

How can I help?

The Mustard Tree are working closely with our partners across the community, voluntary and statutory sector to ensure that everyone who needs care and support receives it. We are encouraging anyone available to help to either contact an existing charity directly (Readifood, CIRDIC and CCA are all urgently needing volunteers), or to offer support through Reading Voluntary Action (RVA).

RVA are coordinating volunteers across the sectors, and each organisation is able to request the people that they need. By working together we can make sure those most needing help can be supported. It avoids unnecessary duplication of services and ensures that safeguarding procedures are followed. Click here to visit the RVA website.

Please continue to reach out to your neighbours and any isolated people you know! We also want to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to our amazing volunteers

If you would like more information on each project please visit their websites, or keep in touch through our Facebook page.

With thanks from The Mustard Tree Team.

Celebration Event

We celebrated the launch of our new client hub on Thursday 6th February.  It was fantastic to see so many people there who have the same passion to see transformation in our town.  It was a wonderful opportunity to share stories of changed lives and celebrate all the ways we are working together to provide support across the town.

The Mustard Tree’s diverse projects all address unmet social needs, and reach out to people who would otherwise be isolated and face barriers in accessing support.  Now we have more space we will be able to continue to grow to meet the demands of the increasing number of people we are supporting.  In addition, we can host new activities  If you have an idea for how we can be supporting people in our community do get in touch.  We would also love to hear from anyone who would like to get involved and help make a difference!

To find out how you can get involved please click here.   You can also sign up for latest news by emailing mike.atkinson@themustardtree.org

Thank you to everyone who came to support us and helped make it a wonderful event.

Invitation to our celebration

You are invited to join the staff of the Mustard Tree in celebrating the launch of our new project hub for Reading

The event takes place on Thursday 6th February. There are two opportunities to join us that day,

In the afternoon between 3pm and 5pm

or, in the evening between 7pm and 9pm

At 90 London Street, Reading

Light refreshments will be provided so please RSVP by email to mike.atkinson@themustardtree.org

As valued friends and supporters we would like to host you for a small celebration in our newly expanded facilities. Our launch event will include:

– Tours of the building

– An opportunity to meet the staff

– A chance to hear about the work of our current projects

– An opportunity to learn about our vision for the future

We hope you can join us!

Reading Lifeline Service Closure

Since its beginning in 1994 Reading Lifeline has provided a place for people to find support.  Over the years the service has changed and developed to meet the needs of our local community.  It has been a privilege to provide a safe space for anyone experiencing infertility or baby loss to talk and be listened to.  We have been encouraged by the many stories over the years of the positive impact that Lifeline has had for individuals, couples and families at a very difficult time.

We have continued to review the Reading Lifeline service and in recent years, we have faced challenges in sustaining it.  After careful consideration and as alternative services to support those facing baby loss are available, we have therefore made the decision that it is time to close Lifeline.  We will finish counselling our current clients, but will not be taking any new referrals.  We will not be running any further support groups. 

Anyone affected by infertility or baby loss can access support through their GP.  There are also some other sources of support which you may find helpful:

You can find a counsellor or therapist near you by using the Counselling Directory.

www.counselling-directory.org.uk

Hope Counselling are a local charity offering help and support to individuals experiencing problems including anxiety, depression, relationship issues, bereavement and a range of other issues.

www.hopecounselling.org

The Willows support group is made up of a group of parents in the Reading area, who have all lost babies at various stage.  They meet regularly and provide support for parents who have been through and continue to suffer the loss of a baby.

www.willowssupportgroup.co.uk

If you would like any further information, please contact us on 0118 959 6669 or email lifeline@themustardtree.org

With our thanks for your support,

The Reading Lifeline Team

Join our team

Role: Young Person Support Mentor

Starting Point is a local project that mentors young people aged 15 – 25 into education, employment and training.

This is an exciting opportunity to mentor a case load of young people and to assist our Mentoring Lead in the referral and matching of the young people to their mentors.  We are looking for an excellent communicator with experience supporting young people primarily from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The relational and holistic approach of Starting Point’s one to one support has caused our programme to experience rapid growth. The support focuses on both the practical support (e.g. CV writing, job applications and interview prep) and social-emotional support (e.g. growing in confidence, self-belief and personal presentation).

To apply: CLICK HERE

To find out more: CONTACT US

Join our team!

The Mustard Tree are recruiting a Regional Coordinator for Engage Befriending.

Engage Befriending work to alleviate loneliness and isolation by recruiting and supporting volunteer befrienders to visit older people in their local community.  We are looking for an enthusiastic team player who has the desire and ability to make an impact in this rewarding role.

This post is for 10 hrs per week,

For more information please download the following job description:

Job-Description-EB-Regional-Coordinator-v1Download

You can also speak to Sue Winyard, Project Manager on 07443 487 191

To apply please email your cv and a covering letter to ali.dent@themustardtree.org.

The closing date for applications is Monday 25th November. Interviews will be on 2nd and 3rd December.