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Blending spices to create opportunity for a thriving community

By 24th September 2014 No Comments

A group of staff, parents and pupils from Victoria Park Primary Academy, Smethwick, Birmingham have come together to form a social enterprise to support and create opportunity in a culturally rich community.

Ballot Street Spice is new social enterprise that aims to bring the local community together to create employment opportunities for parents; real and meaningful learning for the pupils whilst celebrating the cultural diversity that exists in Smethwick.

“We want to create a community impacting social enterprise that will create employment and opportunities here, where there is great need. Ballot street spice represents the spice heritage of our local area.” says Shindy Mahal of Ballot Street and Victoria Park Primary Academy.

Ballot Street Spice was born out of the school’s Spice Academy; a weekly spice club where pupils and families from diverse backgrounds come together to learn, cook and share spice blend recipes. The use of spice historically is something that we seldom think of; but Ballot Street aims to capture centuries of cultural history, culinary heritage and traditions before all is lost with modern generations reaching to the supermarket shelves to buy their neatly packaged spice blend.

“We want people to share with each other how spices are used in their families, cultures and traditions.” continues Shindy. “There are more than 40 languages spoken in the school. With so much diversity amongst our local community, it’s evident that there is so much to learn from one another, whether that’s recipes, how spice is used in different cultures and what is means to different people. The more we share the better!”

Ballot Street Spice is working collaboratively with the Real Ideas Organisation (RIO), to support them with the formation of a real school and community social enterprise.

Education Consultant for RIO’s School Service Nick Clitheroe says, “RIO has been working with Victoria Park for the last couple of years, helping them to embed social enterprise into their curriculum. The Spice Academy was such a success, with many of the local parents from the community and school’s pupils getting involved, having fun and learning. The next natural step for the school was to create a social enterprise that captured the essence of what we were doing in a weekly workshop. By sharing the cultural heritage that exists in Smethwick, we can create amazing spice blends that can be sold and in turn create opportunities for the local community.”

Each spice blend will have a unique story behind it, where it has come from and how it was traditionally used, to be shared amongst people who buy the product.

Shindy’s mother has shared her recipe for the first spice blend product. She explains, “My mum questioned me about where I would get Masala if she wasn’t here anymore and it really got me thinking. I realised that my mum and her family had passed on a precious and wonderful gift to me. I wanted to share my Masala with others so that they can experience something that I do. I wanted others to get great joy from simple cooking.”

Ballot Street Spice’s first spice blend, ‘Mrs. Mahal’s Masala’ will be launched on 25th September, so watch this space for more details on where to buy it!

You can follow them on Twitter at @thespiceacademy to find out more or to get involved.

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