A grant of up to £500,000 has been agreed for a project to create a training kitchen at Newington Community Centre.
The kitchen and space for people seeking job and training opportunities is one of the successful bids in the £19.8million Ramsgate Levelling Up Fund.
Community chef Mike Spackman already works with Newington Community Association to share food, cooking and health skills with residents.
The centre has also run a food club and in the first year of the covid pandemic the Newington Community Food Club (Starlings Support CIC) supported more than 1,600 households across Thanet with free and low-cost food. The club is part of the Newington Big Local community project.
The training kitchen will be an extension of that work, says Newington councillor Rick Everitt.
At a council Cabinet meeting on Thursday (July 28) Cllr Everitt told members that students from Broadstairs College already expand their skills by preparing meals at the community centre, overseen by Mike.
He added: “What’s being proposed is a massive expansion of a project which, to some extent, is already in place.”
He added that investment at the community centre was welcome, especially as residents in the area can feel socially excluded from projects taking place in central Ramsgate.
In a document to councillors it says: “One project within the successful Ramsgate Levelling Up Fund was the delivery of Access to Opportunities provision within Newington, which includes the creation of a training kitchen facility.
“As the monies are limited, the project needs to be based within an existing building, and the most suitable site identified is the Newington Community Centre. The Community Centre is leased to Newington Community Association who have agreed that, with support from Thanet District Council, they can directly deliver this project.
“Officers have been actively working with the Newington Community Association and Starling CIC(which supports NCA) to develop this project and develop the grant agreements and funding has now been allocated by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.”
The project is one of two community sites, with the other planned for Ramsgate town, allocated a total of £840,000 from the Levelling Up Fund.
The bid document stated: “This will provide training spaces and community/ training kitchen facility/amenity to support both initial skills development and community enterprise in food.
“Developing skills around food and hospitality will not only provide valuable access to new and aspirational career pathways but also provide an opportunity to promote skills and knowledge around healthy eating to address some of the challenges the town faces around health and deprivation.”
Amongst the aims is the training of at least 30 young people per year, 30 employees receiving on the job training, work experience, apprentice training and an outcome of two new food businesses being formed each year.
Thanet has the highest unemployment rate in Kent at 6%- equating to 4,815 people, according to statistics for June released this month.
Thanet also has the highest youth unemployment rate in the South East at 8.4% – equating to 805 young people aged between 18 and 24.
Data for June 2022 shows Newington has the third highest rate of unemployment in Thanet – joint with Dane Valley – at 8.3%. The highest rates are in Cliftonville West at 11.8% and Margate Central at 11.3%.
Cara Thorpe, the Community Development Officer with Newington Big Local, said: “We are delighted Newington Community Centre has been given this opportunity to increase the amount of people who we work with by extending the kitchen and making it an amazing space to train in.
“Partnerships with local businesses and training providers have already been formed and we are looking forward to being able to extend this in the future.
“The true flavours in food come not only from the food itself but also from within the company of people that food is shared.”
Newington Community Centre hosts numerous events, groups and clubs, including a holiday activity programme next month for eligible families with E-vouchers.