Bradford Council’s Oastler Market has joined forces with Inn Churches in a commendable partnership aimed at assisting families facing financial hardship. Through a well-coordinated effort, the initiative provides food vouchers worth £5 to enable these families to purchase fresh produce including fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish at the Oastler Market.
The distribution of these vouchers has been efficiently handled by Inn Churches, who have channelled them through their cookery school, the Food Saver Network, as well as directly to individuals in need. This joint endeavour has been made possible through the collaborative efforts of Inn Churches, Bradford Council, and Sainsbury’s Nourish the Nation program.
Soraya Overend, from Inn Churches, said: “To date the vouchers have helped over 120 families and young people to purchase fresh ingredients they simply couldn’t afford or never had the confidence to purchase before as they weren’t sure how to cook with them.
“This scheme gives those in need access to fresh food and the choice to buy the ingredients used in the recipes they’ve learnt with us, so that they can replicate the dishes back at home for their family. The vouchers scheme we have been operating with Bradford Council’s Markets Team over the first half of the year has gone so well we are relaunching this in the Summer.
“This has been a brilliant way of getting fresh meat, fish and fruit and veg to our customers that have been challenged by the cost-of-living crisis. A “cash” first approach using the vouchers is key to supporting our members to access their own choice of food offers and dignity in a financial crisis.
“The response from our customers and the market traders has been incredibly positive.
Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “This scheme not only benefits those in need by giving them access to healthy fresh food but also the traders at the market. Many have seen repeat businesses from those receiving the vouchers.”
Market traders themselves have shared their enthusiasm for the initiative. Keiley at DaleFarm attested to the influx of new customers since the introduction of food vouchers, appreciating the support it provides to families and vulnerable adults grappling with the added costs of food.
Ash Mahmood from Solly’s Fruit and Veg highlighted the mutual benefits of collaborating with Inn Churches Cooking Hub, which has been providing practical support to those in need for years. Mahmood noted that many customers, who were previously unaware of the market’s offerings, have discovered fresh fish, meat, and other products as a result of the vouchers.
Neil Priestley from Priestley Fishmonger said: “I would say we are one of the shops in the market food aisle that has benefitted the most since the food vouchers were first rolled out. Bradford is a very diverse city and it is amazing how many new families have visited us with these vouchers and were surprised that we had a great selection of fresh fish that is commonly used in their cuisine that supermarkets do not always stock. Red Snapper, Monk Fish and Tilapia have been very popular with our new customers.”
In addition, the Food Savers Network will be hosting the Food for Health Not Wealth conference on July 20th at the Jubilee Centre on Jermyn Street. The event, open to all interested individuals, aims to provide insights into the ongoing efforts supporting the Good Food Agenda. Distinguished speakers including Andrew Forsey from Feeding Britain, Tim Howells from Public Health, Tess Wilkins from Food Savers, Nathan Atkinson from Rethink Food, and representatives from My Living Well and Kitty’s Kits will be sharing their knowledge and experiences. For further details, please visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/648746316697.
The collaboration between Oastler Market, Inn Churches, and Bradford Council stands as a testament to the dedication and innovative approaches undertaken to alleviate the challenges faced by struggling families. This ongoing initiative not only enables access to fresh and nutritious food but also strengthens the local market economy. The positive feedback from both beneficiaries and market traders showcases the success of this partnership in making a tangible difference in the lives of those in need.