how do we encourage the wisdom, experience, ideas and energies of people, the conversations we all need? how about a meet up with good food?

The story so far: history and the present are coming together here, now, in West Bridgford: amazing health, placemaking and social eating initiatives that have come out of people’s efforts to connect, reconnect and reconstruct the scale of our lives into something full of value, hope and possibility.

Friday 17th June 2022 was the first social eating meal at Cricketers Court, where residents of Rugby Road (Community Manager Ejaz Asghar), Cricketers Court (Centre and community manager- Piers Edminson), Lutterell Court – (Patrick Ellis/Ashley James run and manage their community and centre), Walcote (John Shelton is the community and centre manager), Church Croft (Laura Mann-Haynes runs their community. If you want to hire the centres or organise community focussed events contact: 020 3535 3431

Bring in Gareth Sears

Gareth Sears Metropolitan Housing Resident Voice Coordinator

who really understands local over 55 residents, he was playing guitar

Gareth Sears who played guitar at the social eating event at Cricketers Court 17th June 2022 There are approximately 975 festivals in the UK generating just under 2 billion pounds every year

Katrina Campbell Coupland

Katrina Campbell Coupland who builds community outreach at Metropolitan Housing

Kat introduced the history of social eating in Nottingham City to West Bridgford through a tasty lunch prepared by Vicky Leadbeater of Secret Kitchen at Cricketer’s Court

There was lunch, music, conversation and community gathering on 17th June 2022 Cricketers Court, Rugby Road, Lutterell Court, Walcote Drive and Church Croft
Metropolitan Cricketers Court hosted the first of Marsha Smith and The Secret Garden’s Social Eating Events June 17th 2022

and Gareth involved all the community managers.

What you may not know is that The Secret Kitchen has grown sponsors, supporters, historical friendships like mushrooms (check out The Good Food Partnership the amazing Penny Poyzer and Shona Munro podcasts), the Nottingham University Food Beacons, Coventry University Sustainable Food, Re-Grow at NTU and social eating are relationships that are changing the way supply chains work and can develop in the future.

The Super Kitchen and social eating in Nottingham really starts with the history of the Windrush generation (so it could be Italian, Irish, chinese, pakistani, indian in fact the 158 different nationalities whose children and grandchildren work and live here in the UK) across all immigrant communities collectively eating, providing lunch clubs, fundraising for community centres looking after everyone across the whole lifespan.

The resurgence of social eating now began in Sneinton about fifteen years ago, where Dr Marsha Smith’s yearning for an informal, grounded way of getting to grips with food inequality began.

Hungry children. Disempowered adults. Obesity and undernourishment. Diabetes, heart disease. Uncared for carers, exclusion.

How could this level of inequality exist in the 21st century?

Marsha worked meal by meal, event by event, building opportunities and partners as she went to evolve the design for social eating. As a student she used to recycle out of date food in the city secretly like an urban guerilla from skips…..(I can remember people becoming aware of the need to do this way back in the 1990’s but then there was a really hostile environment against recycling the food. Hands off.

In the last twenty years it’s been the gentling of the hostile environment, the legitimising of recycling by organisations like Fare Share that helped Marsha grow capacity. It was the bit by bit, building people: the shy, the creative, the technical, the social, the thinkers, realising that in a community there are also eaters, feeders, cookers, gatherers and ….well…eaters…that was a catalytic convertor.

Marsha realised that she could turn the story of an innovative, valued, sustainable service built on human relations into an action research PHD which could help transform both local supply chains and local people’s view of what was possible how self determination could be about community, collaboration and kindness.

Volunteering at Stonebridge City Farm and at the cafe at Sneinton Hermitage (which was sold by the council on 5th Nov last year and is now set to become supported one bedroomed housing), Marsha set up a put whatever’s available/whoever’s available pan kitchen and event on Friday evenings at Sneinton Hermitage going on to develop The Secret Kitchen at Sneinton Windmill did this, gently, naturally, authentically.

The magnetism of this formula has created a common ground that is creating new awareness, new opportunities, new kinds of jobs, ways of working that is rejuvenating the old systems, institutions, professions so that everyone understands this is the bit of democracy that we’ve all been missing. Marsha, local sociologist, now action nutrition researcher at Coventry, Nottingham and Trent Universities is here for us now beginning to connect Rushcliffe and the rural parts of Nottinghamshire with their own histories of social eating in the 21st century. Hooray! If you want to get involved, connect with EatingOnPurpose on Twitter.

Part of the back office team who make events like social eating possible for more people, more of the time is Charlie Lavemai Goldsbrough: helping to reinvent the relationship between Metropolitan and residents for the 21st century.

Charlie Lavemai Goldsbrough who has been working on a new reciprocal Customer Voice Framework over the last year (not easy during these difficult times but they’ve done it

You might be interested in the puddings: they were bakewell and they like the company, were delicious!

Secret Kitchen bakewells for the Social Eating Event at Cricketers Court Friday June 17th 2022 that brought people from Rugby Road, Lutterell Court, Church Croft, Walcote Drive together to talk about building community in West Bridgford.
and there’s Jack, doing his bit