How long have you been coming to the Mission?
I’ve been coming to the Mission, it must be nearly 10 years now I’ve been coming here. When I first came down they used to do food parcels next door and then you came here upstairs to pick them up.
Debs was in reception one day and told me about the evening café which is now the evening social. If I hadn’t come down for that first food parcel, I don’t think I would be here now. If I hadn’t run into Debs that day and she said there was an evening café. I used to just pick up my food parcels and go but I came to the evening café, and now I’m still here and still smiling.
What do you get from coming to the Mission?
I hope what I’m about to say won’t upset you, but I really don’t think I’d be here without it. It keeps me alive. It’s as simple as that. That’s the only way I can put it. I can’t, like over Easter weekend, I can’t just sit at home, it does my head in. But here I’ve got friendship, you know, I’ve got new friends and old friends, it’s somewhere to come down and sit and talk. It means everything to me. I just love it.
What activities do you get involved with?
Before the pandemic hit us, I used to do the cooking course and I’m so pleased that’s back. I love the activities. I’ve done walks, days out, the Art Group, the evening social – I love all of them. It’s something a bit different and breaks the day up. It’s so varied. It gets me out and about. I love this place. It’s so nice to have someone to talk to.
What would life be like without the Mission?
When the Mission was shut in the pandemic, I was bored out of my head. Literally bored to tears. But then the café half opened and you could still come and have a talk and see people so it wasn’t too bad. Then of course when it reopened again, it was a good day that was, to be back inside. Now it feels like it never happened. It’s so nice to come down here. The only thing I don’t like is when it’s shut at the weekend.
They’ve really helped me out here lots of times. Without a doubt. They’ve helped me with benefits support and lots of other things. I couldn’t do it without help. There’s just no way I would’ve coped. I’m not someone who asks for help easily. I hate asking because I think it goes back to my mum, she was always saying “you’ve got to stand on your own two feet” which is fair, obviously, but I do like to see if I can do it myself. Normally I can’t but at least I tried. But knowing there’s someone here that can help me if I really need it, and they have, is wonderful.
What would you say to someone who needed support but had never been to the Mission before?
I would say to people come down. Come and see the Mission. Long ago, there was a guy that came in near closing time. And there was Claire who worked here before Tracy took over so you can see how long ago it was. And he came in and just sat in the café, didn’t say anything. And I just walked up to him and said something like ‘are you alright mate’ and obviously I can’t do anything because I’m just a customer but I told Claire. Within minutes, he was sat down with something to eat and drink. You can tell the difference in people when they’ve finally been able to get some help here. It’s just, you can see the difference this place makes for people.
There’s one thing about Tracy, well all of you really, obviously but because Tracy works in the kitchen, she’s got that kind of sixth sense about someone. When I wasn’t feeling mentally very well, I have my good days and bad days and sometimes I snap their heads off but everyone knows now to keep an eye on me if I’m getting that way. There was a guy once even worse than I was, in a wheelchair he was and within 5 minutes Tracy had him laughing and joking. That’s the sort of person she is. But I think that goes for all of you. There is something I’ve wanted to say to Debs. Every member of staff that Debs has hired, she’s got it right. Every time. Because they’ve all been perfect. They’ve fit the place. Everybody likes them. They’re all very personable. So I think she’s done well with the staff you’ve got here. It’s a really special place.
If you'd like to donate to support the vital work at the Mission and to help us to support more people like Stan, you can do so here.