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Food Power


Experts by Experience

We recognise that people with disabilities have been adversely affected by austerity policies, face additional challenges to eating well, and experience more barriers to access to good food. 

Working with local communities in Sandwell, our ethos is to empower and enable Disabled and vulnerable people and those in need of support to thrive; aiming to give users a ‘voice’. 

Through Experts by Experience we hear first-hand the multiple barriers people face to eating well in Sandwell such as:

  • having to make the decision to choose other necessities first such as medicine or travel to appointments
  • carers putting children and other vulnerable families members needs first over their own
  • missing the necessary transport, equipment and accessible tools and spaces to do this such as can openers, carrying shopping and accessible kitchens
  • facing welfare cuts or sanctions they are unable to afford food or basic services like gas and electricity (fuel poverty)
  • not being able to afford white goods to store, cook and clean; so are not able to produce safe food in the home
  • lacking the knowledge, skills and confidence to prepare and cook filling, nutritious meals..this is just the start.

So what we are working together to achieve?

Through our Experts by experience programme, the Jubilee Food Network and our existing services we want to ensure everyone eats well in Sandwell.

  • We want to make sure Disabled and vulnerable people are given a ‘voice’ and engaged in shaping policy and decision making.
  • We want to help raise awareness of food issues and the impact of food poverty on their lives and their neighbourhoods
  • We want to support the Food Power Action Plan in being joined-up with wider social inclusion planning and strategy
  • We want to greater understand people’s changing needs to work together in removing barriers to accessing good food for everyone in Sandwell.

What’s working well?

Since 1996, Ideal for All have supported over 25,000 local disabled people to reclaim, take ownership and develop four parcels of derelict land in Sandwell and shape delivery of meaningful socially enterprising activities towards healthier, more resilient futures.

Improving access to more affordable, healthier foods - Our therapeutic Market Gardens supply over 2.8 tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables a year to local households and small businesses. And we distribute any surplus produce not used in our social and therapeutic sessions to the community and other groups for free e.g Sandwell MBC Community Fridge

Providing a wide range of opportunities for communities to help themselves - Each year we support over 750 children, young people, individuals and families to increase their skills and knowledge, improve their health and wellbeing, increase their independence and support their meaningful inclusion in communities. Work is delivered at our garden sites, Salop Drive, Barlow Road, and Malthouse Garden; and in the wider community in areas such as Tipton (Burberry Court Social Housing Project) and School settings (e.g. Eaton Valley ‘space to grow’)

  • We maximise peoples income through sound information, advice and guidance
  • We deliver real life skills such as food budgeting/shopping, food growing; food preparation and creative low-cost nutritious recipes
  • We support people to learn new skills, gain confidence and aspiration to move into paid employment
  • We promote opportunities for people to eat well together in the community leading by example through peer-led support, social events and our community business
  • We work together with local businesses and initiatives

Listen to real people, co-produce solutions and empower them to drive change – for example via the experts by experience programme we are gaining further insight and working together to challenge the 'poverty premium' where people on low incomes often pay more for essential services (e.g. healthcare, fuel, food).

Food Power! Stronger together -
Being part of the food network means good practice is shared across people, organisations and local authorities maintaining collective knowledge and skills within the borough and sharing this across the UK to develop learning and action together. Through ‘conversation lunches’ we are working with disabled people who have lived experience to gather their views and develop real solutions to food poverty against the food power action plan. 

“Coming to (Growing Opportunities) garden ‘Get Together’ has made me feel like someone is listening for once. Food is part of all our lives and nobody should go hungry. I used to think about children in other countries going hungry, now I worry about my neighbour’s kids or someone in my area. Its right under our noses and people are dying. We should all be doing more in projects like Ideal for All to help end this.”

How can I be involved?

Become an expert by experience – join other participants, volunteers, members and trustees supporting each other to co-produce solutions. Our group have this to say so far:

“We think that with more voices being heard we can raise awareness of food poverty. Using education and giving opportunities to all to be able to grow their own healthy food, this will make it fairer for everyone.” EBE group Ideal for All. 

Join the Jubilee Food Network and work together in Sandwell to develop a comprehensive, borough-wide response to food poverty including issues such as holiday hunger.

We cannot tackle food poverty alone. We need your help to develop the means to measure and monitor food poverty locally, with a shared approach and voice. Only then can we work together to support our experts by experience to lobby and drive change, having choice and control over our own lives and ensuring everyone is thriving…Making life better for all us.