Frank Field and local organisations are empowering the community
Visitors to the Number 7 café and citizens’ supermarket at Pyramids Shopping Centre will this week be able to receive free, expert advice from the caseworker at Birkenhead MP Frank Field’s office.
From midday until 3.30pm on Friday 22 March, members of the public will be able to receive support at the advice surgery on subjects such as benefits, housing and council tax.
The half-hour sessions – or longer if needed – at the non-profit café and food shop at 7 Princes Pavement at Pyramids are by appointment only and can be arranged by contacting Ed Beardsley from Mr Field’s office on 0800 028 0293.
From Friday 12 April, Harriet Brooker will take over from Mr Beardsley. The free service, which launched earlier this year, currently runs every two to three weeks and has been a great success in aiding local residents.
In addition to Mr Field’s casework service, a non-profit organisation called Involve Northwest is working with Number 7 to offer its wide range of services to help improve the quality of life for local residents.
Every Wednesday and Thursday afternoon, from 1pm to 3.30pm, visitors are able to drop in to the café or telephone for advice on matters concerning employment, welfare and benefits advice and domestic abuse.
The team at Number 7 is also available to assist with benefit applications and can provide immediate support as needed to prevent payment delays. On occasion, appointments may need to be arranged for later the same day or the next. The Number 7 team can also be help book appointments or meetings with debt advisors, Citizens Advice or budgeting advisors to help customers resolve issues.
Derek Millar, commercial director at Pyramids Shopping Centre, says making specialist advice easily accessible is changing many lives in the town. “The purpose of Number 7 is to make sure local individuals and families in difficult circumstances do not feel any more isolated than I’m sure they already do, or that they have nowhere to turn.
“We want the café and supermarket to be the start of a resolution for community members who face the real possibility of hunger,” continued Derek. “But beyond making sure people have enough food to eat, the staff at Number 7 are doing all they can to also alleviate the pressures and worries a modern lifestyle brings.
“Number 7 is a welcoming and safe space, where professional advice, practical help and information is readily available,” said Derek. “We want the people of Birkenhead to know that we’re right behind them as they build a new path to better days.”
The community café and supermarket was officially opened in January by Their Royal Highnesses, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Since then, the surgeries have been attended by dozens of people.
Mr Field, who worked with Derek and other stakeholders on the project for three years ahead of its doors opening, said: “The citizens’ supermarket at Number 7 is already providing much needed financial relief, by saving its first group of members a collective total of more than £1,000 a week on their food shopping.
“With these advice surgeries, we are moving Number 7 into the next stage of countering poverty in Birkenhead by attempting to deal with the root causes of this injustice.”
Kay Penkethman, manager at Number 7, commented: “Eating out has become a big part of socialising and at Number 7 we aim to make it affordable for everyone. A family of four can eat for £10 in our café and if they are members of our citizens’ supermarket, a family of four can eat for just £5, using their 50% discount.
“It would cost me more to make these meals at home. Most of the food in our café is cooked from scratch on the premises using fresh, wholesome ingredients. We keep our prices low with our daily specials costing just £3 for a full, main meal,” said Kay.
“Our membership-based citizens’ supermarket ensures that our heavily discounted food – sold at approximately 30% of its retail price – goes to people in need of financial relief. It also ensures our customers are able to benefit from a wide range of foods consistently throughout the week.”
Kay continued: “We hope that people will also take advantage of our support services to help increase their incomes. This has proven to be such a vital part of our service and every day we are supporting people with a whole host of issues, from benefit advice to form completion, from making calls on their behalf to signposting to other support services.
“We are a friendly team and sometimes a chat over a cuppa is what is needed. The advice surgeries run by Frank’s team are working particularly well,” Kay added. “I have truly been blessed to have been given the opportunity to manage Number 7 – I simply love what we do and the people that I meet through our work.”
Number 7 is stocked with good quality, affordable food sourced from surplus and also receives donations from local and national organisations. Membership of the citizens’ supermarket is based on low household income and stems from referrals from members of the Feeding Birkenhead, Supporting Wirral network, such as housing and healthcare organisations, although self-referrals can be made by popping into Number 7.
Membership is for six months initially, with the option to extend if further support is needed. Access to the café and community support services are available to all.
For further information on how to volunteer at Number 7, donate or help with fundraising, please visit www.feedingbritain.org. Any businesses wishing to contribute to funding, food or other skills or supplies, can also get in touch via the Feeding Britain website or via Twitter at @Feeding_Britain.
More news, events and offers can be found on the Pyramids Shopping Centre website at www.pyranmidsbirkenhead.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pyramidsshoppingcentre and Twitter at www.twitter.com/PyramidsSC.