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Interview with CWT Food Campaigner of the Year 2020 (joint winner)

Feeding Britain works through partnerships with food banks, local community organisations, politicians and companies to develop, trial, evaluate, and submit as policy recommendations initiatives that prevent, relieve, and abolish hunger, malnutrition, and food security in the United Kingdom.

Their projects aim to help those facing barriers to nutritious food, on the grounds of accessibility or affordability, to overcome them with dignity and without stigma.  Projects include Citizen’s Supermarkets, Children’s Kitchens, Pathways from Poverty and Healthy Holidays.  Each project uses good food as a catalyst for improving people’s overall health and wellbeing – in households covering the entire age spectrum and for tackling poverty in a holistic manner.

Feeding Britain is also extremely successful in gaining favourable policy changes from the Government regarding social security, labour market, cost of living, and children’s nutrition policies.

How did you feel when you found out you were awarded Charity Food Campaigner of the Year?

It was a brilliant surprise in the best way possible. It was the coupling of the award with the results we were beginning to see over a period of time that really enabled our team to raise a smile and say against the most challenging backdrop we and our entire network has faced, we have achieved special things, and that was very pleasing to feel that and communicate as a team.

What is your advice to other charity food campaigners?

I always seek our movement and charity to be radical of its goals and pragmatic in the means of achieving those goals. Seeking innovative and, above all else, workable projects, programs and policies, to move us along the road to that broader societal change. My main bit of advice would be, don’t lose sight of the bigger picture, and think about what you can do today to change someone’s life even if its a small idea that can make a difference to disadvantage families along the way.

What has been the most rewarding part of your role as a charity food campaigner?

In particular, our work around holiday food provision; it was six years ago this summer the very first regional part of feeding Britain, feeding Birkenhead took place, the food bank showed us the most alarming data on what happens to children and families during the school holidays.

Feeding Birkenhead, we all came together as a community: church, learning centres, and libraries; all these wonderful community assets came together, and we lay on the most entertaining program of activities and meals, and this was a way to carry on school meals for low-income families.

Immediately we began to see the results, and the foodbank reported fewer families with children needing their help as a result. The teachers said the kids were returning to school full of life, more energised and ready to learn; they had stories to tell their mates about activities through feeding, so Birkenhead, we knew we were onto something both popular and effective.

We knew if the feeding Britain network grew geographically, this became a flagship national scheme and then to translate that into a policy recommendation and subsequently into a piece of backbench legislation which then ultimately succeeded in getting a commitment from the government that they would invest taxpayers money in a national program of this sort.

For our staff and volunteers, it showed that we were a part of something special. It gave us that relief, supporting immediate hunger and reintroducing the love of fresh and nutritious food for children and their families.

What have you gained from the award Charity Food Campaigner of the Year?

It really cemented the sense of our grass-root partners across the country that in undertaking day to day activities, they are also contributing to a movement that had been recognised and achieving really good systemic changes across the county. It’s their efforts that made this award possible, it’s worth our while being a part of this national movement because of what we are doing, being recognised in such a special way.

What are the benefits of being recognised by CWT as an inspirational Charity Food Campaigner of the Year?

The most immediate benefit was seeing the smile on the faces of our team; they plough away at this work day in and day out, so to see them simile when I shared the news that was the most incredible part. Secondary with the Caroline Walker trust we have the most brilliant organisation with an esteem group of people taking the time not only to learn about our work but to recognise our collective effort in such a way it adds to sense of motivation that one might not be barking up the wrong tree when we’re going about our day to day business.

How did you celebrate when you found out you won Charity Food Campaigner of the Year?

Me personally, I celebrated by sharing the news with the team; that was celebratory enough for me. Well, in a sense, it was a delayed reaction the wonderful certificate and award arrived in the post, and our team got together in our office and made sure upon unwrapping them to give them pride of place so when we’re at our desks, it’s firmly in the line of sight.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Above all else our organisation aims to offer an effective service that not only relives that immediate need but constantly seeks new innovative ways to prevent it and support children and families. Against any backdrop, that’s a challenge, and for any organisation, that is a challenge. The logistical changes in the past Year and ongoing trends, e.g. cost of materials, sourcing food that we need to offer a good service for families, has been difficult.

How did you overcome these challenges?

It’s thanks to the ingenuity of both our team and the whole network in constantly sharing good practice. Identifying things that work in one area then overcoming challenges to replicate them in another part of the county, that’s the blessing we have in an organisation like ours.

We have people in a network that can prepare a solution or have already done so and share the lessons of that. From our very first days at Feeding Britain we have drawn the collective firepower of voluntary and community sector but also local business, national companies and local and national government, so bringing that whole variety of voices into this common movement, we can all learn from and bring different perspectives that perhaps wouldn’t of occurred to us before which can help us now craft solutions.

Our doors are always open to anyone who shares our purpose, principles and wants to achieve what we want to achieve; yes were a national movement, but we are made up of local and regional partnerships which help bring people around the table who are concerned about their neighbours or people in their towns, cities, district or borough, and that can be a good focal point to get people involved to support children and families.

You can find more information about Andrew’s award-winning Feeding Britain on their Charity Campaigner of the Year Page

Interview by Michelle Slater
Registered Nutritionist
CWT Annual Awards Committee Member

© 2021 The Caroline Walker Trust

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