Monday 16 November 2015

An evening with Super Kitchen

Last Friday evening a small group of us from the Belper branch of the Labour Party visited the opening of the first Super Kitchen in Derbyshire, to be exact in Clay Cross. I will get around to explaining more about the Super Kitchen movement and why we are interested in it later in this post but first, to set the scene:

Back in July Derbyshire County Council released a press statement about food poverty in the county; an astonishing expose of the underlying need that they were anxious to address. Given that Westminster government cuts to local authority finances are expected to bite ever deeper in the coming years the DCC are looking for ways to promote sustainable methods of feeding the impoverished so, up to May 2017 are investing in start up schemes which they hope will become self supporting. It's better to read the council's well written statement than a re-iteration of the content so have a look here:  We tackle food poverty to support vulnerable residents. After reading this press release a couple of meetings were convened with the DCC to explore what could be done in Belper. Attending those meetings were the Belper Community Gardens project, Transition Belper, Hope for Belper (the food bank) and the Super Kitchen organisation.

To be honest we were bowled over by the enthusiasm of Super Kitchen and were delighted to see the commitment of DCC councilors and officers, led by Councilor Dave Allen in their desire to alleviate the ravages of poverty. Perhaps now is the best time to introduce you to Super Kitchen and their charismatic founder and leader Marsha, here seen on  BBC TV talking about what has been achieved in Nottinghamshire: (this is the link for postal subscribers )

This is the link to the Super Kitchen website where everything is explained in a much better way than I could do it.

The DCC have contracted with Super Kitchen to promote the idea of such ventures being started up throughout Derbyshire. They are also putting startup money into a Fairshare Hub distribution centre to service food banks and Super Kitchens. The Super Kitchen opening up in Clay Cross is the first fruit of this initiative.

Holmgate Evangelical Church near Clay Cross
We were made really welcome at the Holmgate Evangelical Church. A lively evening of Super Kitchen presentations,  a great meal and a demonstration of what "social eating" is all about. We learnt that eating together is a great leveller, rich or poor, living alone or with family or even if you have no roof over your head ............ at that dinner we ate and talked, we were just people. The accompanying photo does not do the building justice as the ambience was terrific and I was impressed by the fact that the church was constructed solely by money raised by church members. On the drive home our small team from Belper discussed how we can make a Super kitchen a reality in our town. To this end we are now in the process of recruiting members, searching out venues and identifying the need. We are well aware that there are Belper organisations active in this area already but our idea is to provide meals, perhaps initially once a week, between 5pm and 8pm so that we can offer the chance for families with children to attend, as well as those who live alone of whatever age group. Doesn't matter if you have no money or if you have a bulging wallet, all would be welcome. The principal is that you pay what you can afford but a 3 course meal will never be more expensive than £2:50 ............ and for those who  are hard up it's free. Marsha explains it all so much better than me so here, yet another link to her speaking but more like her normal, witty self (when not being interviewed on the telly):  (more than just wonky parsnips). No this is not a Marsha Smith fan club blog but she does seem to have the knack of whipping up enthusiasm to actually go out there and do something. I get fed up just pointing out the negatives in society so it's probably good for me on a personal level to find something that I can do which could make a lot of difference. I may even break the habit of a lifetime and volunteer to do the washing up!!!!!!

There is no use asking for help from the town council

The Belper Town Councillors, at the last council meeting doubted if there was any poverty in the town; comments to this effect being made whilst tuning down a grant application from Hope for Belper Food Bank because it was run by a christian organisation (apparently the comment was, "if we give to one religion they'll all be asking for money). BelperStuff will be reporting on poverty in Belper in the next few days but, if town councillors cannot wait to find out I can assure them that there is real poverty in this town with at least 14% of Belper households being below the poverty line.

Next steps

In the coming weeks we will be talking with existing organisations in the town, recruiting members and those interested in volunteering, finding a suitable venue (perhaps even venues ... plural). Probably the best next step is to host a public meeting so ............... send comments to BelperStuff and watch out for notification of that meeting.

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