Co-operative Futures has been working closely with Smethwick CAN over the course of the USE-IT! project in West Birmingham and Smethwick, which began in 2017. Having already run a number of food-based projects under the banner of Smethwick CAN, the group were looking to expand on the services offered and transition them out to a dedicated food-based community business. Co-op Futures has therefore been helping them develop these ideas and register Together Smethwick Food Hub as a Community Benefit Society. We have also supported the group in securing some start-up finance to continue to grow their activities.
The Food Hub will now operate the existing food bank and community café, as well as the current allotment. The new developments to the community-owned enterprise will include a food pantry to enable individuals to move on from the food bank, further food growing sites and new community cafes in additional locations. It is also hoped that the enterprise will secure a premises to enable them to buy and store larger quantities, thus enabling them to develop a food-buying coop to provide lower cost items to members.