Our Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet boss Sharon Goodyer, and supporters of her Summer Kitchen scheme to feed isle families over the school holidays, have given their views on life in Margate for a House of Lords Select Committee report.
Five members of the Select Committee on Regenerating Seaside Towns and Communities visited Margate yesterday (September 12). The cross-party peers are conducting an inquiry into the complex challenges faced by seaside towns and communities and requested a visit to Margate as part of their evidence gathering.
Members of the committee met with senior councillors and officers from the council as well as people from the public sector and representatives from local businesses. Their aim was to understand some of the challenges the area faces, including issues around housing, as well as examining the effect of regeneration and the role of the visitor economy in generating change.
The council gave a tour of ongoing projects including the ‘Live Margate’ Housing Intervention Programme , the Multi-Agency Task Force and Dalby Square regeneration and took the committee members toTurner Contemporary and Dreamland.
While the members were at Turner Contemporary Sharon Goodyer, along with Labour councillor Barry Lewis and Drapers Mills head teacher Joe Manclark, turned up to give an overview of what the Summer Kitchen project had achieved and also to speak about the need for more community support.
The trio found they were unable to speak to the Lords directly so made a video of their comments to be passed on.
Sharon said: “We did a video to the leaders of the committee telling them about the Summer Kitchen, how successful it was and how our work continues to do more for the people of Thanet.
“We said how there is not always the support for community projects and how this should be changed.”
The Summer Kitchen, held at Drapers Mills school and St Christopher’s Church in Newington during the holidays, served up some 1,642 meals as well as providing games, haircuts and advice from councillors and help groups.
The plan is to roll out the Summer scheme next year to more schools. Sharon will also be chasing funding which was due to have come through the Street Games organisation via a £2million government pot to provide Summer meals and exercise schemes.
Two Food Link schemes will also now be set up by Sharon in Dane Valley and Newington which will provide fresh food but also offer cooking training and advice on using the cheapest, seasonal ingredients to make ends meet but still eat healthily. On top of this there will be support from Our Kitchen on the Isle of Thanet to help people set up food micro businesses.
Sharon added: “We felt the community should have input into what the committee heard and saw. It was disappointing not to be able to speak to them directly.”
Cllr Bob Bayford, Leader of Thanet District Council said: “We were delighted to host the visit. Being able to demonstrate the impact of the work we’re already undertaking and the ongoing challenges we face in the area itself, was a unique and welcomed opportunity.
“The council will be submitting a district-wide response as part of the committee’s call for evidence, as we recognise this is something which affects all of Thanet’s seaside towns.
“Thanet is fortunate that in recent years visitor growth has bucked the national trend, so we have a positive story to tell. That said, we face significant pockets of deprivation and the related challenges that brings – something many seaside resorts experience.
“Although we are working hard to tackle this, there is always more that can be done and I am hopeful that by working together across government and the public, private and voluntary sectors, we can strengthen our approach and continue to thrive as a coastal destination.”
Lord Bassam of Brighton, Chairman of the House of Lords Select Committee on Regenerating Seaside Towns and Communities, said:“Seaside towns face a range of complex challenges; some are local, while others are common to many coastal areas. We’ve been in Margate to find out what the big challenges are, and to learn more about the work done in recent years to promote the arts and cultural sectors here. The valuable insights we’ve gained will play an important part in our inquiry.”
The Select Committee was set up earlier this year and has until March 2019 to reach its conclusions and publish a report.