Wood Street Heroes – David and Lucy

David, tell us what made you want to support Wood Street Mission? 

I wanted to support Wood Street Mission primarily because they are good people doing a great thing, but also because it’s unacceptable that a nation with the fifth largest economy in the world should have a child poverty rate of 30%. There shouldn’t be any. I know through Wood Street that the situation in Greater Manchester is particularly bad, exacerbated of course by the pandemic. Yet here we are, with a government that has no issue handing out millions to their friends and associates in shady contracts, while refusing families struggling to provide for their children an extra £20 per week. How this is acceptable I do not know, but thank god for charities like Wood Street Mission.

What did you do to fundraise? 

I ran the 2021 London Marathon for Wood Street Mission; my first ever marathon and the charity’s first ever London marathon spot (no pressure). My journey wasn’t a typical one. My wife Lucy – a supporter of the charity for several years – had signed up to run for Wood Street, but unfortunately a flare up of asthma meant she wasn’t able to train. So I suggested that if Wood Street didn’t have anyone else to run, I could do it. If I’m honest, I thought there would be someone waiting in reserve, but when I went for a look around HQ they said ‘yep it’s all gone through and you’re running’. At this point the race was 8 weeks away. Righto. I was actually more concerned about reaching the £2.5k target than running the 26.2 miles, so I took to social media, started bombarding everyone I knew on Whatsapp, and even bagged a slot talking to Becky Want on BBC Radio Manchester (thanks Mags!). The day before the race it tipped over £3k, which was a real weight off. The marathon itself was such a brilliant, life-affirming experience; unlike anything I’ve done or felt before. To do it for Wood Street just made it all the more special.

What was the most challenging part of the experience? 

Aside from the distance (and the registration the day before, which took about 5 hours – nod to the Excel centre), it was the £2.5k target which weighed most on my mind. It being Wood Street Mission’s first London marathon place I was so desperate not to fall short. Luckily, a good number of wonderful, generous people spread the word and donated, at a time when many were feeling the pinch due to the pandemic too. I’m so grateful for that.

What was the most fun or rewarding part?

It’s difficult to describe the pleasure of the first pint post-marathon…. so I won’t attempt to. But yes, that.

You very kindly volunteered with us at Christmas, how did that go?

I volunteered for the day at HQ, a few days before Christmas Day, and was posted to the exit, helping people leave the Christmas shop with gifts, bags, prams, loading up cars etc. If I’m honest, it was a bitter sweet experience. I was struck by the size, scale and efficiency of the operation; the warmest and generosity of the staff, volunteers and donors; but also saddened by the sheer number of people coming through the door – hundreds of people (thousands over the course of the appeal) – and the number of children that might have gone without something to open on Christmas Day were it not for Wood Street. It’s such an uncomfortable thing to think about, children having nothing to open on Christmas morning, that it’s easier to just not think about it and assume that someone must be doing something about it. Surely this kind of thing doesn’t happen in the UK? But it does, that’s the reality, and it’s depressing to think what the situation might be like without charities such as Wood Street Mission.

There are some overwhelming statistics about the number of children living in poverty in Manchester and Salford – over 65,000 children in these 2 cities alone. What would you say to someone who wanted to make a difference and help this issue – either individually, or with their families, with their school, with their colleagues at work, with people in the community?

I’d say it’s easy to assume that something will be done, that someone must be doing something about it, so you don’t need to. But that’s just not the case. It’s clear that we can’t rely on those in power to help those who need to be helped, and charities like Wood Street Mission rely on good people with the will and the desire to help, to know that something needs to be done and the inclination to do something about it. 

How did it feel to be supporting a small, independent and local charity? 

It felt great to support Wood Street Mission, and you do feel, with Wood Street being a local, independent charity, that what you’re doing will have an immediate, positive effect. Though I’m also very aware that what I’ve done for Wood Street Mission is nothing compared to the time and effort that the staff and regular volunteers do every day, week on week, month on month, year on year. I know this screams of false modesty, but they really are the heroes in this story, so I dedicate this nomination to them (if I can do that?). You are great people doing a wonderful thing and this city is a much better place for having people like you in it.