Homeless people to grow food for deprived Northampton estate

Tim Bedward, warehouse manager for the social supermarket, with the first customer at the Blackthorn Community Centre on Friday morning.
Tim Bedward, warehouse manager for the social supermarket, with the first customer at the Blackthorn Community Centre on Friday morning.

Residents on the Blackthorn estate in Northampton can now opt to sign up to a new membership scheme where they can buy subsidised food for little cost.

Homelessness and poverty charity, Hope yesterday (Friday, February 23) launched their pilot pop-up 'social supermarket' - a brainchild that they have been working on for 18-months.

Members get to buy pre-packed boxes of food that Hope bosses have packed - to help supplement their diet.

Members get to buy pre-packed boxes of food that Hope bosses have packed - to help supplement their diet.

The project - which operates out of Blackthorn Community Centre on Friday mornings - offers those on lower incomes the chance to buy a membership for £2, four times a year.

With the membership, they can purchase a box of goods filled with 26 items - which is worth about £25 at the market rate - including dried, tinned and packet food, for a subsidised cost of £7.50.

To be eligible for membership, residents who have a Blackthorn postcode must show evidence that they receive state benefits, which include JSA, ESA, Universal Credit, Income Support and PiP.

Residents can take away two boxes per person every week, and can also buy a £2.50 toiletries box or £1.50 shaving kit.

Tim Bedward and Noo Jarvill.

Tim Bedward and Noo Jarvill.

Noo Jarvill project manager for the social supermarket said: "This food club project is going to help those on the breadline, those in poverty, those who are struggling to pay their bills.

"It’s not for people in critical need who use food banks - that’s the really big point."

She added: "Food banks are great, but they are for emergencies.

"And sometimes, although people are treated kindly at food banks people can find it degrading experience - this is meant to be a cheap shop.

"Don't feel bad about coming here - it’s for those people who are in food poverty and there are many in Northampton."

Local supermarket donations of end-of-line or damaged products make up the dry food element

To work hand-in-hand with the food club scheme, bosses at the Hope Centre are currently levelling the ground at their new allotment in Kingsthorpe where they will launch the Hope Garden Club.

Homeless people at the Hope Centre will then have the opportunity to help work the land and gain experience for their CVs, which will, in turn, help them get back into the community.