Note from the Foodbank Manager March 2017
Nisi Prius: This might not mean much to some at first glance, but it is the name of the building that is to become the new home of the Foodbank. This is subject to the successful completion of legal forms and documentation that Rachael has been working on between us and the council.
We are looking to stagger the moving process throughout the month of April and hopefully take up residence by 28th April, with a view to start issuing food parcels from Nisi Prius from the first week of May 2017. We do not have the keys yet but once all the paperwork is done then we will be able to start accessing the building and we can move items over the coming weeks. I will keep you all informed on moving progress and where appropriate, I will call on you for help.
Location: If you imagine standing at the top of Botchergate looking towards the middle of town with the station on your left hand side, Nisi Prius is the round building to the right. It is the old County Council building, it is huge and we will only use up a tiny proportion of it. The address is The Courts, Nisi Prius Building, English Street, Carlisle.
Some members of the Board and I had a site visit last Thursday where we had a good look around and mapped out the rooms that we plan to occupy as the Foodbank. It is a completely different setup but I’m optimistic in that it offers an interesting opportunity for us to employ new methods of working. We will, for instance, have a lockable door separating the rest of the food stocks and the new bagging up office to the public. The bagging up room has a hatch in the wall through which we will serve customers so there will be no need for a door policy as we currently do. We have a larger room through the lockable door, to what could serve as a café but we will in the first instance trial the use of the foyer area to serve teas and coffee and snacks to the public and see how we go from there.
Kitchen and cooking facilities: Nisi Prius has no kitchen or cooking facilities and so we have deliberated long and hard on what the way forward regarding our hot meals and we have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we will have to cease providing the cooked meals for now. We cannot provide the required level of supervision and co-ordination to ensure a systematic method of cooking food offsite and transporting the food to Nisi Prius whilst guaranteeing required food safety standards. There will be much reduced access to the building once we have the keys and part of the license agreement forbids the use of a key safe in the way that we have at St Nics. This is all related to the fact that Nisi Prius is a grade 1 listed building and the historic nature of the building comes with tight access rules.
We are in a position where we are undertaking a major relocation of the Foodbank in its current size so our overarching priority is to see the task ahead to its successful completion and getting the new Foodbank service-ready for May.
Brief history of Nisi Prius: Finally, Rachael helpfully gave me a quick history of the place: Nisi Prius translates as ‘unless before’ and it relates to a civil trial held before a judge and jury. The old courtroom is still in place in the building and on the other side of the road is the court which was originally used for criminal cases – it has a dock and cells. When Rachael first came to Carlisle, that courtroom was used as the High Court and Crown Court, until the Combined Courts Building was opened in Earl Street. Both buildings are Victorian but built on the original city walls built by Henry VIII.