This week’s charity Tuesday feature is Wood Street Mission, a brilliant charity supporting families living on low incomes in Manchester. They help thousands of children each year, providing a lifeline for many Manchester mums, as women are their main service users. Here they are you tell you:
What lead to the creation of Wood Street Mission?
Wood Street Mission was set up in 1869 by a group of missionaries who wanted to help families living in dire poverty in Deansgate, Salford and Hulme. The area – now part of the Spinningfield’s business district – was characterised by slum dwellings with families living in miserable overcrowded, unsanitary conditions. Many had come into the city to provide the workforce for the industrial revolution but were unable to make ends meet because of low wages and irregular work. Alfred Alsop, a local book seller and evangelical Methodist, set up the charity to provide practical and spiritual help to local families and the charity quickly expanded and became involved in large scale poverty relief works
Please tell us about your work and how you support Manchester mums?
We help about 3000 families and 7000 kids who are living on a low income every year. We run a community shop where parents can shop with credit for day to day necessities for their children such as clothes, bedding and baby equipment, as well as toys and books which are important for well being and development. We run book clubs during holidays and half term breaks which promote reading and literacy to children and their parents and we also promote engagement in education through our unique SmartStart initiative which kits out children in uniform for school. The majority of our service users are women – often young mums who are struggling because of family breakdown, illness or low pay.
How can people support your work?
There are lots of ways to support our work. Mums can donate good quality clothes, bedding, baby items, books and toys to our community shop. We run appeals in the run up to Easter, back to school and Christmas time when people can donate specific requested items or funding. We are also always looking out for committed volunteers who enjoy working with a diverse group of people for our community shop and book clubs.
We currently have an exhibition Queues Clogs & Redemption Salford on display in the Salford Museum and Art Gallery until November. The exhibition charts our work through the years from the days of providing a home for street children in the C19, sending tens of thousands of children to the seaside in the first part of the C20, and running a youth club and sports hall in the sixties and seventies. For more information go to www.woodstreetmission.org.uk