Wood Street Heroes – Didsbury Theatre School

Didsbury Theatre School have been so committed to us, Sheila, tell us what made you want to support Wood Street Mission?

In the early 2000s I ran a childrenswear business whilst raising a young family. At times it was tough. I was keen to recycle my own children’s clothing and my shop stock, and I discovered that Wood Street Mission collected and redistributed good quality clothing to families living below the poverty line in Manchester and Salford.

The more I learned about the organisation, the more it resonated with me. It was established in 1869 and I was born exactly 100 years later. It helped provide clothing and accessories for children, an area I was very used to dealing with. Aside from this, when I visited the Wood Street HQ, the culture was always warm, genuine, and compassionate; it was clear our efforts were directly helping families in our local area.

It broke my heart that child poverty was still an ongoing issue in the 21st century. I made a conscious decision to do what I could, over a sustained period of time, to help this wonderful charity.

How did you support us in 2021?

Over the years I became conscious that my individual impact would be limited, so I decided to involve my team members and our local community.

Throughout 2021, our teachers (at Didsbury Theatre School) helped at Wood Street’s Books Forever events, reading stories and teaching dances.

We also took part in the 2021 Great Manchester Run.

We held weekly cake sales and pre-loved clothing sales, with all proceeds going to Wood Street.

We had T Shirts specially designed for our annual show and sold these to raise additional funds.

We collected clothing donations from parents and dropped these off at Wood Street and encouraged our members to do the same. 

How did you involve your students, teachers and parents with our projects?

We talked about Wood Street Mission a lot! We informed members about the charity’s various activities and encouraged them to get involved.

Teachers take part in charity runs, bake cakes, help with organising events and teaching at the Books Forever events.

Is there a specific project that really stands out to you?

We do love the Books Forever Appeal. Children can get truly lost in books and they develop their curiosity and imagination. We hope our theatre school teachers can help bring books to life and nurture a love of stories and reading.

Tell us about the other ways you have supported the charity.

We talk about Wood Street all the time! We have posters and leaflets around our schools which become talking points.

If we have any events, we always include the charity and think of an angle to involve them and raise some more money.

We speak about the charity at our annual show, and share all the appeals on social media. It is so easy to retweet and share media posts from Wood Street and we are always happy to help in this way.

We will do whatever we can to help Wood Street Mission and raise the issue of child poverty.

What has been the most fun or rewarding part of supporting us?

I personally love to visit the Wood Street building in central Manchester to drop off clothing or collection tins. The donations and supplies are lovingly displayed around the walls of this historical building and there is always a warm, friendly welcome.

As a team, we enjoy taking part in The Great Manchester Run. I remember on one occasion running a half marathon into a 50 mile an hour head wind. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but keeping the purpose (Wood Street Mission) in mind helped me to the finish line. 

It has also been great to build relationships with the charity’s staff and we love it when they pay us a visit too!

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

It is humbling to see first-hand the difference every donation makes.

What would you say to someone who was thinking about supporting Wood Street Mission?

I would say the culture at Wood Street Mission is truly special.

The core values of compassion and kindness radiate from everyone you meet.

I am in no doubt that these values ripple out to those in need, to positive effect.

As a supporter for almost 20 years, I have witnessed Wood Street Mission adhere steadfastly to their purpose of creating better lives for children in Manchester and Salford. Their impact is genuine and far-reaching, and we will continue to support this wonderful charity, while the need is sadly there.