[Photo: featuring local children's centre staff, Jonathan Pauling and Councillor Kam Adams] 

On Thursday 5th July, the ARC team took up residence in Ridley Road market to promote and celebrate the Rose Vouchers for Fruit & Veg project in Hackney. Rose Voucher Celebration days on the market are fun, busy and welcoming, with a great sense of community at the heart.

Ridley Road Market is our longest standing market partner so holding an event there was a brilliant opportunity to celebrate this partnership, the support of the Hackney markets team and our dedicated local children centres. 

As with all great markets, you can buy a huge range of different things, from fruit and veg to sun hats, curtains and shoes.  Our four stalls were bookended by stalls selling tee shirts, shoes and clothes.  “No time wasters! Serious buyers only!” shouted one of our opposite traders… 

ARC is fortunate to have many wonderful partners, including HENRY, Bags of Taste and School Food Matters who all joined us for the event.  We shared a stand with our collection of children’s centres, who came along to sign up new families to their services and chat with long term Rose Voucher families. 

Kelly, the Lead Early Year’s Practitioner at Comet Children’s centre, said “Rose vouchers are very helpful for families, especially when times are hard, they have something to fall back on.” Two Rose voucher mums stayed for a couple of hours with us, chatting and having fun with our Rose voucher fruit and veg worksheets. 

One of the mums said “The vouchers have made a massive difference to my family. The kids really love it. I have an older son who's six who adores fruit and veg. It's really helped us incorporate lots of fruit and vegetables into our daily diet and it's been nice to explore different fruit and veg that we've not tried before. I'm cooking more with the children and my son's very much involved in chopping vegetables, so it's made a big difference, he's learning a life skill.” 

Watching the happy faces of parents and children’s centre staff recognise each other was one of the happiest parts of the day.  The day was hot and hazy, but our families stayed to have a chat, try a Bags of Taste noodle salad and learn how many sugar lumps are in a bottle of Ribena (too many).

Ann, on comms, chatted with a few market traders. “I do this because not everyone has money in their pocket to buy fruit and veg. I want to help them” said the newest trader to join the project.  We have four traders on Ridley Road, all who want to help their community, and benefit from the revenue Rose vouchers provide. 

Deputy Speaker of Hackney Council, Kam Adams spent an hour with us, learning about our work, the partners and our hopes and plans for the future. “Rose Vouchers make a positive contribution tackling food poverty in our communities. I hope more people will support this noble project for more families to benefit from it.”

We finished up the day with chunks of sweet, crunchy watermelon, tired and happy from another day of celebrating the teams and people that enable Rose Vouchers to help their community.