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Councils to help fight food poverty

L-R: Shelley Hewitson (Citizens’ Advice Copeland), Andrea Dockeray (Whitehaven and Egremont District Credit Union), Coun Emma Williamson (Sandwith ward, Cumbria County Council), Cioun Allan Holliday (Copeland Borough Council portfolio holder for Customers and Communities), Peter Connolly (Copeland Borough Council chairman), Julie Wedgwood (Bottoms Up Ltd), David Linstead, Mildred Linstead and Gillian Troughton (all Christians Against Poverty), Coun Peter Tyson (Sandwith ward, Copeland Borough Council).

COPELAND Council is part of an innovative scheme putting healthy food at the heart of communities.

The council, along with Allerdale Borough Council,  has funded a £20,000 pilot scheme looking at improving health and wellbeing using food which would otherwise be wasted. The project is also being supported by Cumbria County Council.

Today councillors attended an initial event aimed at finding out more about what the community of Sandwith, one of the county’s most deprived, would like to see.

This supports Copeland Council’s work on social isolation, financial inclusion and health inequalities.

Locals calling in to the drop in sessions at St Peter’s Parish Hall in Woodhouse today were able to sample a delicious array of food donated by Recycling Lives Fare Share, and take some home. They also had the chance to chat to representatives from Citizens’ Advice Copeland, Whitehaven and Egremont District Credit Union and Christians Against Poverty.

Mayor Mike Starkie said: “This is an important project looking at new ways of improving lives in our communities. Fresh, healthy food is really important socially, so the project aims to come up with ways of using that connection to engage with people, fill gaps and improve services. It’s exciting and I’m really looking forward to seeing how it progresses.”

Julie Wedgwood, who is delivering the initial project through Bottoms Up Ltd, said at today’s launch: “The pilot scheme will develop links with partners and talk to residents about what changes they would like to see in their communities. It’s intended the final business case will be very much community-led, but will include the use of food and friendship as a means of helping those who may feel excluded, and of addressing food poverty. Selected schools could also be involved.”

County Councillor Emma Williamson, who represents Sandwith ward, added: “It’s so important that this is community-driven. We have to get away from just doing things for people then walking away – it’s not sustainable. This project will get people involved – everyone we’ve met today said they are willing to play a part and help make changes. They realise that we all have families, we all struggle. But if people are supported to make a plan and get involved themselves, they will then have the ability to take that forward themselves into the future.”

More events will be shared as the scheme progresses.

Fare Share redistributes fresh, in-date and good-to-eat surplus from the food industry, which would otherwise go to waste.

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