|This week (Wednesday 12th June) Lisa Howard (Plymouth Food Equality project lead) and I travelled to Newcastle to attend the Food Power conference.
The day was packed full of workshops with excellent opportunities for shared learning, best practice and creative discussions around Food and Poverty alliance work developments across the UK. We met and chatted to a lot of different alliances about the work they are doing.
It was particularly interesting to hear about the excellent progress being made in Newcastle, where the local Food Power alliance has created a highly innovative ‘experts by experience’ programme of work, meaning that the voices of their community members with lived experience of food poverty are firmly at the heart of the work they do and are included in the decision making processes. This is very much an example that we would like to follow within our Food Equality project work in Plymouth.
Similarly, there were a lot of examples shared of resources that are useful for engaging with those individuals and communities more effectively in a fair, transparent and non-stigmatising manner. Again we have taken away some good ideas that we intend to adapt for our own Food Equality workshop purposes.
I had a particularly interesting discussion in a small ‘open space’ workshop in the afternoon, the topic being ‘working with the media in an ethical manner, considering the sensitive nature of marginalised communities’. What emerged from this workshop for me was that we are facing ever increasing demands for media representation, and, although I often carry out media work myself (to varying degrees of success I must admit), I am aware that not everyone is comfortable doing this. So perhaps we need to find a way to better support individuals so they feel fully equipped to face the media (to amplify their voices on the topic of food poverty). Perhaps some sort of ‘quick guide to working with the media’ document would be useful (I will think on this!). We also discussed different forms of media (social media, film etc), and how to utilise these to get our messages across effectively. Final discussions ensued around the highly nuanced and political nature of food poverty work and how, as a local food alliance, we need a) to be responsible for protecting those more vulnerable individuals and communities and b) to attempt to maintain a politically neutral perspective where possible (although this can be a challenge). We need, therefore, to be able to support our wider partnership and networks to ensure that the messages being delivered (via media) are factually correct and transparent.
We fully acknowledge that there is a lot of expertise in Food Plymouth’s wider partnership and networks and we want to feel we are fully engaging with our partners and utilising the skills within our communities. If anyone is keen to be involved more fully in our FOOD and POVERTY work, then there are LOTS of opportunities so please do get in touch…