Mr Peter Hodskinson MBE
In 1991 a public meeting was held at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in order to establish an organisation to cater for people in need in Stockport. Father Botter, the then parish priest, suggested that the people attending the meeting should look at an old scout hut on Fletcher St. to see if we considered it suitable for our purpose. The building was in poor condition, with many broken windows, the roof subsiding and the walls bursting outwards. Not to be daunted, the volunteers were keen to get started on a transformation. The walls were pulled upright & the roof jacked up. Plumbing & heating were installed. MFI donated a flat pack kitchen. The school meals service donated a large gas cooker. An S.S. twin tub sink was donated by a Sheffield manufacturer. The dining hall was furnished with small round pub tables, each with a pan to collect the water dripping through the porous asbestos roof. The ladies made smart red check gingham curtains to put up at the newly glazed windows & the building was vigorously cleaned. Later we managed to persuade a cladding manufacturer in North Wales to supply us with a heavily discounted, insulated steel roof which transformed the environment, making it light, clean, warm, dry & secure (& we did away with the asbestos.) Food was donated by many churches, who each displayed a carton as a food collection point, which the volunteers brought in weekly. Eventually, we wrote to junior schools & churches to ask them to donate tinned food at harvest time in order to build up a stock. Initially we received more than our fair share of prize marrows & beans. Clarks DIY, our neighbours, kindly allowed us to store food on their premises.
We opened originally, without a kitchen, on a Sunday. A local caterer provided hot soup for thirty. A homeless man called Neville was the only person who turned up, so the volunteers drank a lot of soup! Soon numbers grew as the word spread. Our teams of volunteers increased also, which enabled us to open each lunchtime, then eventually in the evenings also. Whilst the building was now in a usable condition it did not have a long term future & things were straining at the seams. In 1997, the building fund was started with our first major event, ‘The Spirit of Christmas’, a variety show presented by Gordon Burns of BBC News Northwest, at Stockport Town Hall. Gordon had recently agreed, along with a number of religious leaders, to become Patrons of The Wellspring. With the help that we were providing to people in need, on a daily basis, together with ecumenical recognition, The Wellspring was by now becoming widely known. The Wellspring at this time was run by teams of volunteers under the guidance of a steering committee but following an incident it was felt that we should close temporarily until we could find a suitable person to employ as manager. Over the years the facility was improved, a shower added, an office built for the manager, then a surgery for the newly appointed nurse. By 2009, the Building Fund had increased sufficient for us to invest in a new purpose built Wellspring, on a site in Harvey St. provided by SMBC. We are able to continue to sustain, improve & increase the range of services we offer to those in need in Stockport thanks to the diligence of our staff & volunteers. All this is thanks to the generosity of the people of Stockport.