A grant of up to £500,000 has been awarded for a project to set up a training kitchen at the Newington Community Centre.
The kitchen and space for people seeking employment and training opportunities is one of the successful bids under the £19.8million Ramsgate Leveling Up Fund.
Community chef Mike Spackman is already working with the Newington Community Association to share food, cooking and health skills with residents.
The center also ran a food club and in the first year of the covid pandemic, the Newington Community Food Club (Starlings Support CIC) supported over 1,600 households across Thanet with free, low-cost food cost. The club is part of the Newington Big Local community project.
The training kitchen will be an extension of that work, said Newington Councilor Rick Everitt.
At a Cabinet meeting on Thursday July 28, Cllr Everitt told members that students at Broadstairs College are already broadening their skills by preparing meals at the community centre, overseen by Mike.
He added: “What is on offer is a massive expansion of a project that to some extent is already in place.”
He added that the investment in the community center was welcome, especially as area residents may feel socially excluded from the projects taking place in the center of Ramsgate.
In a document to councillors, it says: ‘A project as part of the success of the Ramsgate Leveling Up Fund was the provision of providing access to opportunities in Newington which includes the establishment of a training kitchen.
“As funds are limited, the project must be based in an existing building, and the most suitable site identified is the Newington Community Center. The Community Center is leased to the Newington Community Association who have agreed that with the support from Thanet District Council, they can directly realize this project.
“Officers have been working actively with the Newington Community Association and Starling CIC (which supports the NCA) to develop this project and develop the grant agreements and funding has now been allocated by the Department of Leveling, Housing and Communities.”
The project is one of two community sites, the other being planned for the town of Ramsgate, allocated a total of £840,000 from the Leveling Up Fund.
The tender document stated: “This will provide training spaces and community kitchen/training facilities/facilities to support both initial skills development and community food enterprise. .
“Developing skills around food and hospitality will not only provide valuable access to ambitious new career paths, but will also provide an opportunity to promote skills and knowledge around healthy eating to address some of the challenges the city faces in terms of health and deprivation.”
Among the objectives are the training of at least 30 young people per year, 30 employees benefiting from on-the-job training, work experience, apprenticeship training and the culmination of the creation of two new food companies every year.
Thanet has the highest unemployment rate in Kent at 6%, or 4,815 people, according to June statistics released this month.
Thanet also has the highest youth unemployment rate in the South East at 8.4%, which equates to 805 young people aged 18-24.
Data from June 2022 shows Newington has the third highest unemployment rate in Thanet – along with Dane Valley – at 8.3%. The highest rates are in Cliftonville West at 11.8% and Margate Central at 11.3%.
Cara Thorpe, Community Development Officer at Newington Big Local, said: “We are delighted that the Newington Community Center has had this opportunity to increase the number of people we work with by expanding the kitchen and making it a amazing for training.
“Partnerships with local businesses and training providers have already been formed and we look forward to expanding these in the future.
“The real flavors of food come not just from the food itself, but also from the company of the people the food is shared with.”
The Newington Community Center hosts many events, groups and clubs, including a holiday activity program next month for eligible families with e-vouchers.