As part of a pilot project, funded by Shaping Places for Healthier Lives programme, we worked with Shropshire Council Public Health, Citizens Advice Shropshire and the Shropshire Food Poverty Alliance members to hear from individuals and families with lived experience of food insecurity and those who work to support them. Between February and April 2021 we ran the public and organisational engagement for the Shaping Places for Healthier Lives Food Insecurity Project focused on South-West rural Shropshire. The aim being to understand people’s experiences of living with food poverty and gather insight from the organisations working with or supporting them from the public and voluntary sector, e.g. food banks.
The main recommendations based on the findings of our engagement activities:
- Whole system working – A system-wide approach is needed to address the issues that lead to food insecurity and its impact on people’s health and wellbeing. The public and voluntary sector need to work in partnership to create services which are accessible and easy to navigate, one way to do this is to improve relationships with food banks and other community organisations.
- Improved communication across the system to support more joined up working across the community and public sector, including direct telephone numbers available to foodbank volunteers to enable them to refer directly to specific service teams/workers.
- Needs assessments across health and social care need to include the impact of food insecurity.
- Review the language used to decrease social stigma associated with seeking help. Ensure that information is presented clearly and meets each person’s information and communication support needs in line with the NHS Accessible Information Standards
- Referral pathways to be streamlined to make sure people are able to access the right support at the right time, e.g. GPs and Social prescribers able to refer to foodbanks, debt advice, sources of mental health support.
- Ensure people in need are treated with compassion and empathy to that they receive the information and support they need.
- Develop ‘wrap around’ support for people who are in financial need to prevent them reaching crisis, e.g. Advice First Aid training for frontline Health staff