Norwich residents are experiencing a new, more affordable, way of grocery shopping at a new social supermarket based in Russell Street community centre.
Shoppers can access discounted food and household essentials at a range of times throughout the week, as well as enjoy a free cup of tea or coffee when they visit. The supermarket’s arrival has been welcomed by neighbours who have created a community flowerbed next to the centre.
Run by local charity, ENYP (Equipping, Nurturing Young People), this is one of three social supermarkets now available in the city. ENYP has been managing the community centre since 2019 following a community asset transfer from Norwich City Council, a process that allows the centre to be leased on a peppercorn rent to enable it to be used for community activities.
Social supermarkets are run by voluntary organisations, working with local food producers and suppliers to provide products at a lower cost than traditional supermarkets. These shops are aimed at anyone who is struggling to afford food, but there are no specific criteria for who can become a member.
The need for social supermarkets was first identified through an action plan developed by the Food Alliance and members of The Norwich Food Network, community groups working together to alleviate food insecurity. This network was originally set up by the city council who continue to facilitate its vital work.
An empty shop unit owned by the city council was as identified the first suitable site, with local organisations invited to apply to be the lead partner. The Feed were successful and recently opened their social supermarket on Hall Road, with ENYP launching shortly after.
Councillor Adam Giles, Norwich City Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for community enabling, said: “With residents facing unprecedented financial challenges the city council has a vital role to play in addressing food poverty, which is why we have provided some upfront investment and support to help make social supermarkets a possibility.
“The Russell Street supermarket has a wonderful community spirit already and is a positive place for residents to socialise as well as shop.
“Once again, our local voluntary sector is going above and beyond to rise to challenges brought about by the national context and we will continue to find practical ways to support them”
Danny Doran-Smith, Director of ENYP, said: “Social supermarkets are a fantastic way to meet both the practical need of affordable food provision, while also providing social support which is so vital in helping to tackle some of the underlying causes of food poverty.”
A third social supermarket run by the SOUL Foundation is up and running on Mason Road, with one at Earlham Nursery School due to open in September. Through its food network, the city council hopes to find opportunities for more social supermarkets around Norwich. To find out more, including how you can get involved through volunteering and donating, visit www.norwich.gov.uk/communitynetworks.