Community, Sustainability, and Resilience

It may have been much quicker to find a suitable pic and share this news as nothing more than the simple social media post. But I feel this is something deserving of so much more. I’ve just recently been offered the opportunity to work as part of a very special project in Coventry. There is much more to this story than a (largely jumbled) blog post can convey, but I shall do my best…

Where is it? What is it?

In Foleshill, a socially deprived area of Coventry, there is a community centre which has stood empty for several years. Exploring this site of ongoing restoration, I really felt those past generations who had passed through those doors and walked those (wonderfully intact) parquet blocks.

A pantry still shelved with small drinking glasses, old notices about “gym shoes”, black and white photos of martial arts memories and a well-attended whist drive. I could not help but feel moved by this special place and it’s potential to be a missing piece for so many locally.

Image result for foleshill community centre

I loved talking to Ellie, the project manager about all things sustainable and the hopes for this place to become a community in itself, not just a reopened physical location. Trustees and staff working on the project have tirelessly fund raised and organised a necessary overhaul of the plumbing etc, and it is now time to make plans for what this piece of history can truly offer.

Food. A cafe. A place to grow food. Somewhere for families to meet, learn, gain support, to feel safe, to want to give something back. Not to fill in forms and tick boxes but to feel valued and equal. As Ellie summarised, when we think of charity we all too often think of Victorian gentlemen carelessly tossing down a coin with the words “There you go.” In order to truly help people rise up, benefit and try to balance their physical, mental and emotional health, they have to feel equal. They have to be given choices. Which brings me onto the social supermarket concept…

The Social Supermarket

The Social Supermarket is an initiative which first came about in 2013 in South Yorkshire. In short, these projects use surplus/mislabelled stock from large producers and suppliers and divert it to social supermarkets who can sell it on (usually to members only) at around 60-70% off retail price. The “members” of the supermarket are those experiencing food poverty, a serious problem in the UK today. Stock is provided by a number of suppliers, and is mostly short-dated or mislabelled stock which would be otherwise destined for landfill.

However, as this article interestingly points out, there is potential for the stock to be largely random, mostly unhealthy, and cheaply/unethically produced. It’s a difficult situation- ultimately it is best for these items to not to waste but do we expect people to accept a diet of dregs? Processed food saved from the bin? We have to consider the impacts on people’s physical and emotional wellbeing long term and find a way to build “Food Resilience”.

“Food Resilience?” What are you on about Charlie?!

Food resilience is about a feeding community that adapts, stands strong, contributes, trusts, and beyond. If we include sustainable, high quality choices of food  which can be  used to cook meals (supported by onsite cookery workshops) this mere supermarket can offer so much more. Helping people to rise up out of food poverty in the long term. Alongside all the other offerings, let’s just add some store cupboard essentials sold by weight in the quantity people really need…and you can see why it’s so exciting for me to be a part of this project! 🎉

Plastic free, local, affordable, has been our ethos from the very beginning. And I think my part in the future Foleshill Social Supermarket fits that pretty well. 😊

Flat-lay Photography of Vegetable Salad on Plate

 

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