Simon Prince is the General Manager of Coastal Health & Wellbeing, based at Wells-next-the-Sea, north Norfolk. Here, he explains how a new mobile community supermarket is setting out to support those living in coastal areas
A new mobile community supermarket, offering low-cost food and household products, has taken to the road in north and west Norfolk – to support residents living in coastal areas who are finding it hard to make ends meet. The Coastal Health and Wellbeing Community Supermarket van is up and running thanks to support from the Norfolk Community Foundation and becomes the 10th food hub under the umbrella of the Nourishing Norfolk Network.
The revamped, former supermarket delivery van makes regular trips to Hunstanton, Walsingham, Little Snoring, and Blakeney – and a static version can be found every Wednesday afternoon at The Hive Café at the Old Cottage Hospital.
It is headed by Simon Prince, General Manager of Coastal Health & Wellbeing at the Old Cottage Hospital, and Helen Roythorne, who has been funded by Norfolk Community Foundation to manage the scheme.
Simon explains: ‘The Coastal community supermarket is a low-cost food club where people pay a one-off membership to join and then they have access to food that is up to 30% less than mainstream supermarkets.
‘If you want to access the service as a member the only stipulation is that you must have a permanent home in either West or North Norfolk. There’s a £3.50 joining fee and that lets you access any of the sites.’
One of the aims is to support health and well-being in coastal areas this winter. Last year, Chief Medical Officer Sir Chris Whitty called for a national strategy to improve the health of coastal communities.
The ‘Health of Coastal Communities’ annual report highlighted that, in 2019, the older age profile of the coastal towns’ resident population is particularly visible in smaller seaside towns – the proportion of the population aged 65 years or over was second highest in Hunstanton. That same year, King’s Lynn and West Norfolk had the seventh highest mental health need in the country and, in 2020, nine of the 13 council areas with the lowest average weekly wages were in coastal areas – and they included North Norfolk.
Simon adds: ‘Our aim is to help our community have access to healthy, nutritious but low-cost food, which will help them live a healthier lifestyle and help them to get their finances to go a little bit further, especially in this cost-of-living crisis.
‘We offer free fruit and veg, which is kindly donated to us by local suppliers; we have free sanitary products which help us to combat period poverty and we don’t just offer tins of beans – we offer things like cleaning products, and pet food.
‘We are hoping that this will become a five-day-a-week project and are working constantly with the local communities to see where those needs are.
‘Sheringham will come online soon as will Holt and Fakenham and we will work together as a group to cover as much of the local area as possible.’
The Coastal Community Supermarket can be found in the following locations: Monday (every week), 10am-1pm, Hunstanton Town Hall; Tuesday (first, second and third of every month, 10am-12pm, Walsingham Village Hall; Tuesday (first and third of every month), 1-3pm, Little Snoring Community Room; Tuesday (fourth of every month), 10-3pm, Blakeney Village Hall; and Wednesday (every week), 2-5pm, The Hive Café at Wells Community Hospital. For more information, visit wellshospital.org.uk. Coastal Health and Wellbeing at the Old Cottage Hospital is looking for corporate funders, volunteers and supporters to help with the Coastal Community Supermarket. Email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org