The Start-Up

‘Food is a brilliant way of bringing people together’

Squash, a community hub in Liverpool, is helping to incubate food entrepreneurs, Hazel Sheffield writes

Wednesday 19 June 2019 18:12 BST
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Becky Vipond and Clare Owens started Squash in 2007
Becky Vipond and Clare Owens started Squash in 2007

Fozia Choudhry has always loved cooking. At home in Liverpool she looks for excuses to bake a cake or make a curry. But until recently she felt stuck, unsure of what she could do for a living. She was even thinking of following in her husband’s footsteps and becoming a taxi driver. Then last year a friend told her about a cooking workshop at Squash, a food hub Liverpool 8, also known as Toxteth, south Liverpool.

“She said, ‘Come on, you need to do this!’” Choudhry remembers. “I didn’t know what to do with my life.” Today, Choudhry is one of 40 women to pass through a Women's Food Biz course at Squash. The programme, sponsored by the Workers’ Educational Association, invites unemployed women with an interest in food to test an idea for a food business and to train to work in the catering industry. Since completing the course, Choudhry works part time as a chef at the Squash cafe, making aubergine and potato curries and chickpea burgers. “It’s a beautiful place to work. My husband came in for the first time recently and said, ‘You’re in a good place here’."

Squash started in 2007 as a way for best friends Becky Vipond and Clare Owens to use food to bring people together within their community. Last year, Squash moved into its own eco-building, co-designed by the community, on Windsor Street. The building is now home to a cafe, a food shop, gallery space and a large garden for growing produce.

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