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From the blog

WestRaven Big Local


Hello, my name is Kevin and I have recently joined the team here at Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT) a Peterborough-based environmental charity that runs projects both locally and nationally.

I have joined the team to work on an exciting project with the communities of Westwood and Ravensthorpe. A while back, Big Lottery funding with the Local Trust awarded 150 areas across the country each with £1,000,000 over 10 years. To qualify, the area had to be considered as a deprived area and not received Lottery funding before.

The Local Trust mission is to enable residents to make their communities a better place in which to live. So they created the Big Local, their first and major initiative. In Peterborough the local trust went about setting up a community group within the district of Westwood and Ravensthorpe, which is now known as WestRaven Big Local.

After a lot of consultation with residents on how the community could improve or make a dramatic change to the area they live in and improve the lives of local people, the board decided that a community café and green space would be the two projects they would like spend some of the Lottery money on.

So the resident-led project teamed up with a locally-trusted organisation. WestRaven Big Local chose Cross Keys Homes. The WestRaven Big Local is also working with partner organisations around the local area, including Ravensthorpe and Highlees Primary Schools, Sodexo justice services HMP Peterborough, Peterborough youth in localities services and the charity PECT.

Within Hampton Court in Westwood there is a shopping precinct, which had a double unit for rent. The WestRaven Big Local board made the necessary enquiries and secured a lease on the property with PECT being the leaseholder.

West Raven Big Local then decided that they would need key staff in place to facilitate the running of the café, a Chef Manager and a Community Engagement Officer. That is when I joined PECT and WestRaven Big Local, to manage and set up a Community Café, because I have been in the hospitality industry for over 30 years.

I am a fully qualified chef and have worked in various hotels, restaurants and contract caterers in my career. My previous job was as an Operation Support and Development Chef, working across the health care division of a contract caterer with 150 care homes. My job was to implement staff training and menus, develop concepts and offers to enhance service and to give dignity to individuals.

But this will be no ordinary café! Within the café we plan to have a safe and comfortable youth area with facilities that they have chosen. There will also be a domestic kitchen setting to enable us to train local residents in cooking from scratch, health benefits, and simple budgeting skills. There will also be an area that can be used during the day for community classes such as arts and crafts, job clubs and well-being courses. We will also have a commercial kitchen and café seating area during the day. Another thing that we are working on is pop-up restaurants in conjunction with local residents, community groups, and senior citizens’ lunch clubs and a meals on wheels service for sheltered housing, but to name just a few of the ideas.

In conjunction with Peterborough Prison, The Job Centre and Peterborough College we can offer work experience placements for local residents of Westwood and Ravensthorpe, Jack Hunt School and the wider area, to help get people into work.
Ravensthorpe Primary School kindly donated a piece of land that WestRaven Big Local can use as the green space project, which we plan to use as a ‘plot to plate’ project to enhance the café. We are now at the stage that we will start to renovate the shop unit so I have included some before pictures, and if you watch this space we will update on the ‘after pictures’ once each part is completed.

If you are interested in getting involved and can spare some time as a volunteer, either running an event for the local community or helping out in the café – or even if you have an idea for a pop-up restaurant – then please feel free to drop me an email to discuss this further on [email protected].

This area will be the main washing-up area. The room to the right with the hatches in the wall will be the main kitchen and the room straight ahead will be the office and staff facilities.

This will be the main kitchen, the hatch will be extended and heat lamps and stainless steel shelves put in place.

This is the view of the café’s main seating area from the washing area. There will be a servery unit and chilled decks here. To the left is the community space. 

This is the community space area, there are lots of activities planned for here. This will be divided from the café by sliding doors that could be opened to double the space when we do a pop up restaurant.