Published on 18/01/21

Reducing dependency on street feeding: The work of the Food Justice Network

The Birmingham Food Justice Network (FJN) is a partnership of over 200 members from various organisations, co-ordinated by The Active Wellbeing Society, to work collaboratively to the ambition that all citizens have access to affordable and nutritious food. The network operates through a number of subgroups, one of which is the Street Feeding subgroup.

Colmore BID is an active member of both the FJN and the Street Feeding subgroup, reflective of our Safe and Sound strategic priority of delivering a multi-agency approach to reduce public place vulnerability, particularly street feeding and homelessness.

The street feeding subgroup currently meets weekly to develop a more structured and co-ordinated approach to delivering street feeding activity across the city. We are currently in contact with over 70 individuals representing large and small groups involved in Birmingham’s street feeding and homelessness support to scope how we can best design-out the duplication, waste and demand gaps that currently exist within the system. We need to make best use of all resources if we are to target and support citizens at different stages of their journey out of food poverty.

We know that food poverty can be triggered by crisis with finances and/or other personal circumstances such as behavioural and emotional wellbeing. Food poverty can mask a myriad of other inter-connected complex needs. The FJN knows that by working alongside a range of other specialist outreach support services, we can all work smarter to deliver our long-term aims of faster, better-informed and unified support that address food poverty and any other underlying conditions that lead to financial and social insecurity and homelessness.

Colmore BID is fully committed to achieving these aims. That is why its Safe and Sound Strategic Project Officer is working with the FJN to create a Birmingham Street Feeding Handbook that will provide researched pragmatic best practice guidance, advice and information reflective of the core fundamental standards associated with accreditation, coordination, legal, public protection and public health considerations. Moreover we can work with street feeding groups to help them achieve these standards. Through the FJN we can provide opportunities for further training, mentoring support and feedback forums. This is an approach also being adopted by other cities within the UK.

We are genuinely excited at the opportunities and improvements possible through this more unified, collaborative approach. By aligning street feeding with the wider FJN we now have a shared identity, and perhaps most importantly, influence and access to the numerous Birmingham City Council committees the FJN has membership of.

To learn more about the FJN, please contact FoodJusticeNetwork@theaws.org