Owner Profile – Juliet Powell Choice Therapy

Juliet Powell joins me for a cuppa and a birthday treat in Hotel Du Vin to talk life, business and how she is applying her advanced diploma in therapeutic counselling to support the parents of tweens and teens.

Juliet Powell and I enjoying a birthday treat at Hotel Du Vin
Juliet Powell and I enjoying a birthday treat at Hotel Du Vin

If you would like to share your story of self employment please email greedywordsmith.com to arrange a cuppa with Claire.

The setting.

We chose to meet at Hotel Du Vin, York in recognition of our first meeting at the coach led networking group Winning Women. As it was Juliet’s birthday (I don’t have permission to let the cat out of the bag on age) we ordered the affogato and pear and almond tart before settling down for our interview.

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Interview with my local Foodbank

Many look to curb eating or adopt a healthier lifestyle as we head into Spring. But what if you are one of a number of residents who struggle to buy enough food to see you through a week, never mind make choices on whether your minced beef comes from grass fed cattle?

Earlier this year I spoke to Laura Chalmers about how she became York foodbank manager and the help they offer to York residents.

Laura at foodbank


In 2010 Laura Chalmers stepped away from a career in childcare to volunteer with Christian Aid. She found her time at the orphanage in South Africa extremely rewarding and volunteered again – this time with TearFund – in Bolivia helping local people tackle issues such as drug abuse and child prostitution. On her return Laura found employment in the local youth hostel and that was when she heard that York foodbank were recruiting their first full time manager.

“Due to increasing demand their efforts had grown considerably. Eventually someone was needed to oversee the work, to keep it managed effectively and ensure sustainability. The Trussel Trust recognised that without a full time member of staff there may be no foodbank.”

Laura says that her time volunteering abroad had also brought her to the conclusion that there was a very real problem with poverty in Britain.

“At home the poverty is more hidden with a lot of complex issues and misunderstanding. We have seen a breakdown of community and people are increasingly disconnected from their neighbours. I saw my chance to take a job where I could make a real difference to my own local community.”

Part of her role involves visiting local schools, groups and professional bodies. These visits highlight many of the questions and misconceptions that exist around foodbank and the service they offer. I asked Laura to answer the six most common topics that come for up for discussion whilst she is out and about.

 As the 6th wealthiest country in the world why do we need foodbanks?

“It’s true that there is a great deal of wealth in Britain but it is poorly distributed amongst the general population. There is a huge gulf between the richest and poorest members of society. Here in York the figures are surprising. 25% of children live below the poverty line, a higher percentage than the national average, and men living in the most deprived parts of the city die an average nine years earlier than those in the least deprived areas.”

Foodbanks are just an extension of the welfare state

“Whilst we take referrals from agencies such as social workers and health visitors, foodbank remains independent from the public sector and relies solely on public donations. We work hard not to be seen as a replacement for government provision in terms of assistance. Foodbank offers a safe place for people to access support without fear of judgement. The Trussel Trust looks to be part of the solution not part of the problem. We work in the hope that one day our services will no longer be required.”

People just don’t know how to manage their food budgets properly.

“Foodbank users are some of the most resourceful people I have ever met. Many know exactly how to stretch ingredients but, ultimately, that is not always enough. Without transport it can be difficult to purchase items in bulk or reach cheaper supermarkets; many people are forced to buy food from the nearest store they can access on foot – often the most expensive way of purchasing food.

An additional factor is the number of our visitors who have grown up in care. They’ve had little family stability and not learnt how to run a household in the same way many of us do. As a reaction to this the Trussel Trust has introduced the Eat Well – Spend Less workshops, teaching people how to make nutritious meals on a tiny budget.”

What about those of us who work and still struggle to survive? Why should help only be given to people on benefits?

“The foodbank is open to anyone in need of assistance, regardless of benefit status. Less than half of foodbank recipients are on benefits and often those who are receive ‘top up’ benefits to bolster low wages. Over 50% of individuals living in poverty in the U.K are from working households and many of those helped by foodbanks are in work.”

My neighbour needs your help. Can he drop into our local foodbank tomorrow?

“We cannot dispense a food parcel without a referral from a frontline agency. I suggest your neighbour speaks to his G.P. or makes an appointment with the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. The largest group of visitors to York foodbank are young men of working age so he is not alone. Health visitors, head teachers and social workers can also provide a referral.”

Why don’t you provide visitors with fresh vegetables rather than packaged food?

“Fresh food is a complex issue and not suitable for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is much harder for the foodbank to store without wastage. Additionally, fresh produce is more difficult to prepare if you haven’t been able to pay your fuel bill that week. Never mind ‘heat or eat’ – some can’t afford to do either. This makes preparing a cooked meal extremely difficult.”

I saw someone leaving my local foodbank in a car the other day. Why should we provide someone with food if they can afford to run a car?

“Many foodbank visitors struggle to get to and from a foodbank. Each food parcel provides enough food for three meals a day for three days per person in the household. The average family of four receives far too much food to carry home on foot or public transport. A beneficiary might need to be at work during open hours so a neighbour will pick it up on their behalf; or require help from a community support assistant to due to a disability. Also, there are many reasons why someone may need use of a car and, as I mentioned earlier, it is not our job to pass judgement on such choices.”


Unchained – Local Food delivered with passion.

The passion for food often starts at a young age and this can certainly be said of Louise Brogan Hewitt, owner of Love to Eat and Brownie Mail. Whilst many of us hold fond memories of childhood baking with Mum and Dad, few can say they made their own 8th birthday cake.

This enthusiasm led Louise to a degree in Hospitality and Business Management. After working in the field for a few years and taking a year out to travel abroad she began to feel limited in her role as an employee. In 2008 support from The Princes trust enabled her to set out independently, so the first incarnation of Love to Eat was born.

“Initially Love to Eat was an outside catering company. I wanted to develop a business where I could express my own values, not be tied into that of my employer. It was about moving away from a few sandwiches on silver trays and offering a more exciting choice.”

Louise happily ran her new enterprise alongside working part time until personal circumstances created an abrupt change in living arrangements and – as a home run business – the base for Love to Eat. After spotting the premises that would go on to be the home Love to Eat customers love, Louise approached the bank for a business loan and nervously signed the lease for five years.

lovetoeatteamThis July saw the renewal of the lease and the opportunity to move the business up a notch. Louise has seen a great response to their ethos of good food, locally sourced and at an affordable price. The friendly team give the cafe a relaxed atmosphere where nearby residents can relax and socialise.

“I want to show that local, seasonal and even organic food doesn’t have to be expensive. We aim to be approachable, no food snobbery.”

So what next for this thriving local cafe? Louise has recently engaged with a scheme called Entrepreneurial Spark; a Leeds based idea offering structured mentorship and support for business both in the start-up and growth stages of development.

brownie pic 2“It is time for a more grown up version of Love to Eat. We still offer outside catering services and I am in the process of developing a new way of getting our popular brownies to customers who are further afield.” (Brownie Mail) “I would like to see Love to Eat become further involved in helping the community which supports it.”

If you would like to hear more about Love to Eat or are interested in engaging any of their services you can contact the team at info@lovetoeat.co.uk. Catch them on social media at the links below.

Twitter   Facebook   Website

Do you live in the Acomb, Dringhouses or Woodthorpe areas of York? Are you a regular customer at Love to Eat? Perhaps you have a favourite cafe hiding in your side of the city? I am always interested to hear your thoughts in the comments box below.

Unchained – A quick lunch with the man

Looking forward to the chance to cook and relax this weekend, the man and I popped by Bishopthorpe road and the excellent M and K butchers. The quest for game complete (partridge and rabbit to be exact) we decided to drop in for a cup of tea at the much celebrated Puddin & Pie.

Despite hearing a lot about this Bishy road stalwart I had not yet taken the opportunity to sample from their menu. We had hardly stepped through the door when the man realised the meaning behind the name. Pie. Mash. Gravy.

wpid-imag0900.jpgWe didn’t really need persuading to stay for more than a pot of Yorkshire builders. I opted for the tempting lamb, chickpea and chorizo whilst the man plumped for the more traditional chicken and leek. There is a choice of mash, peas and gravy in all it’s combinations and two vegetarian options for committed herbivores.

Our waitress told us that the pies were all sourced from Toms Pies in Devon. The menu informs diners that additional ingredients are sourced nearby and the whole cafe has a comfortable feel of a place catering to a local community. Our meal was tasty, satisfying and just the right size for a day time meal; leaving you full but not overwhelmed. With prices around the £5.00 to £7.00 mark Puddin & Pie offer an excellent value lunch that will not dissapoint.

‘Unchained’ – A touch of vegan glamour on York Shambles market

A glance into York’s independent food scene

York’s daily market has undergone a lot of changes in the last twelve months. As the dust settles on the new market space I stopped by Melrose Organics to ask Jodie Barber why she had decided to join the newly christened York Shambles Market.


Originally from Sheffield, Jodie moved to Los Angeles to study Visual Communications with the intention of pursuing a career in fashion. During her time in California she became caught up with the trend for organic and ‘clean eating’ sweeping across the West Coast .

“Soon after changing my diet I noticed a big improvement in the condition of my skin and hair. And I generally felt a lot healthier too. That was seven years ago now.”

In 2013 she relocated back to Britain and found herself working as a stylist for Marks and Spencers in York. Frustrated with the lack of organic and vegan food on offer in the city Jodie took action and Melrose Organics was born. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs she is not remotely fazed by the idea of setting out on her own and feels sure that there is a generation of stylish, fashion conscious customers looking for healthy food options to fit into their busy lifestyle.

“I want to show that vegan and organic food is about more than brown rice and eating beans,” urges Jodie. “It has moved on a lot since then. I try to provide plenty of options for people with different allergies and dietary requirements too.”

wpid-imag0444.jpgThe stall has a range of whole wheat  wraps and boxed salads that are inspiring to even the most committed of carnivores. Jodie complements these with a choice of seasonal juices and guilt free sweet treats. I can safely vouch for the delicious sweet potato, mustard and hummus salad and have regularly dropped by just to pick up a bottle of her excellent chocolate almond milk.

Jodie aims to one day find Melrose Organics a permanent home on our high street but is enjoying being part of the York Shambles Market in the meantime. You can’t fail to see the enthusiasm she holds for ‘clean’ eating, and I agree that whether a committed vegan, or simply looking for a healthy lunch alternative, there is plenty to make a hungry foodie like myself very happy.

Jodie can be found Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday on York Shambles Market.

Melrose Organics can also be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram  as @Melrose_Organic or contacted at info@melrose-organic.com. Check out the website for information on products and keep up to date with changes.