As part of Love your local market week fifteen new street food traders, who are all graduates from the Council’s trainee market trader scheme, will be setting up in Douglas Way Square to sell an eclectic range of street food.
The trainee market trader scheme is one of a number of projects the Council is undertaking to regenerate Catford and Deptford town centres and ensure their markets’ long-term future.
Funding for the scheme comes from Lewisham Council and the Mayor of London’s Outer London Fund. As part of the project the trainees receive:
A free place on training sessions delivered by qualified business support experts on topics such as branding and marketing, trading standards, health and safety
A grant towards the start-up costs of their business and market stall
Free pitches at one or more of the borough’s markets
Nigel Adams, the Regeneration Communications Manager for Lewisham Council, said the fund was an opportunity to help people in Lewisham set-up businesses for themselves.
“We wanted to provide training to get people from the stage where they’ve had a great business idea or they’re making fantastic things at home to actually begin trading,” Adams said.
“This is great for the economy of Lewisham, the people of Lewisham and the market itself,” he added.
Adams also highlighted the importance of bringing new trade to the market: “The scheme will bring a different dimension. It will bring back people who perhaps haven’t visited for a while and hopefully a new crowd in as well. Deptford has a fantastic multicultural cuisine heritage so we’re trying to bring that to the forefront again so people know that it’s here.”
Claire Pritchard, Renewal Manager for Deptford High Street, believes street markets are an essential part of Deptford.
“It helps preserve the high street and there’s loads of community engagement through the markets,” Pritchard said.
“It’s a really accessible affordable way to start a business and in history it’s been the source of economic regeneration of Deptford and I think it can be again.”
The trainee traders’ market is part of The Deptford Food Court.
Pritchard noted that the creation of the Food Court was a direct response to community needs: “This is something a lot of people were asking about. There’s a lot of opinion in Deptford, which is fantastic. Deptford is a place with a lot of passion, a lot of engagement and a lot of voices, but absolutely consistent across all of that was a Food Court.”
Pritchard is one of the trainers on the scheme and said it is fundamental to the market’s regeneration.
Thanh Uong is also a graduate from the trainee scheme and is one half of Two Hungry Bees, selling Vietnamese home cooking inspired by his heritage and that of his mother’s.
Uong said the trainee scheme gave Two Hungry Bees the confidence to start trading.
“We were always really fearful about the paper work and business side,” Uong said. “The scheme really nailed it for us, they cover everything — marketing, social media — we have so much knowledge now.”
Uong said another important factor about the scheme is the support of the other 14 graduates, because they are all working together.
Also trading a family recipe is Deptford-born Natasha Lawes, whose free range jerk chicken wraps are inspired by her connections to the area:
“I grew up in Lewisham and my Grandma used to take me Deptford to shop, so this is my home. I used to watch her in the kitchen, and I thought her food was just the best. Lucky I did watch otherwise her recipes would have been lost forever!”
For Lawes, the stall was a life long ambition.
“I’ve had this idea for so long and I’ve done a few business courses,” she said, “but I never really felt able to go out there and really go for it.”
Lawes also said that the scheme has given her confidence and she is looking forward to the future.
The trainee scheme graduates will be trading on May 25, June 1 and June 8 at Douglas Way Market, SE8 from 9am–3pm.
For booking information, contact Nigel Adams via email at email@example.com or on 02083 147 613.
Listen to the Love Your Local Market SoundCloud set for more interviews from this story.