Leeds Food Aid Network – Written evidence (FO0018)


West Yorkshire Food Poverty Network (A Feeding Britain Pilot) – Aims for 2019 - 2020

(Bringing different networks and organisations together across West Yorkshire to tackle Food Poverty in the Region)



The West Yorkshire Food Poverty Network is a network which brings together different representatives from 6 different areas across West Yorkshire inclusive of Kirklees, Wakefield, Bradford, Keighley, Calderdale and Leeds. Since it started in 2015 the network has brought different people together from the 6 areas in order to:

-         Meet 4 times a year at different venues across West Yorkshire for dialogue and discussion.

-         Share good practise.

-         Encourage each area to establish and develop Food Aid / Poverty networks in each locality.

-         Help facilitate effective distribution of food across the Region (FareShare Yorkshire)

-         Give feedback on other specific areas such as Holiday Provision, on location support at Foodbanks, Engagement with MP’s, Documenting Provision and collecting data.

-         Access Financial Resources e.g. £50,000 from West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioners Fund in 2018/19 to support food providers in West Yorkshire.


The West Yorkshire Food Poverty Network is becoming part of Feeding Britain with the aim of achieving a number of objectives which include:


-         Sharpening the existing work taking place across Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds, Bradford / Keighley and Wakefield District to tackle Food Poverty.

-         Attain new resources to support existing collaborative activity.

-         Learn from other areas across the UK.

-         Feed in to the national picture including policy making.

-         Seek to develop ongoing activities on a number of specific areas such as protecting people from Hunger; Improving access to low cost food; supporting people in Crisis and building Food Security across the region.


Feeding Britain itself is a national network which brings together different pilots from across the UK which are enhancing collaborative work in different areas. Feeding Britain state clearly that every pilot area that they work with looks different and that individual food providers in different pilots don’t have to all do exactly the same activities. This West Yorkshire Network will be the 12th network to join Feeding Britain and acts as a Regional rather than city / town Network. It is essentially a network of networks and includes:



-         Wakefield Food Aid Network

-         Leeds Food Aid Network (FAN)

-         Feeding Bradford

-         Keighley Food Poverty Action Partnership

-         Kirklees Emergency Food Providers Network

-         The Gathering Place in Halifax / Calderdale


This diagram shows a basic out line of how a Food Aid / Poverty Network functions in different parts of West Yorkshire.


Representatives from these different networks will meet on a quarterly basis and also seek to interact in between meetings regarding how core aims and priorities are been achieved. Under the guidelines of Feeding Britain we will focus on the following areas and set key guidelines for 2019.


Protecting people from Hunger

Providing Holiday Provision to help tackle food insecurity amongst Children

Bradford / Keighley – £250,000 to be distributed by Leeds Community Foundation (LCF) to help provide holiday Provision in 2019 supporting 30 clubs in Bradford and Keighley. Keighley also will provide support through food parcels and meals. FareShare Yorkshire, Storehouse and Revival Food to be involved in supporting projects with food.

Wakefield - £50,000 to support holiday projects and support food aid provision operating in the Wakefield District.

Calderdale – Seeking to provide provision over the summer through developing existing activities.

Kirklees Combining existing activities with additional food to support children and families.

Leeds - £200,000 to support 40 projects across the city during Easter and summer and a coordinator to help manage and evaluate provision. FareShare Yorkshire and Revival Food to assist with providing food. In addition £500,000 will be provided by the Department for Education to support large scale operations, supporting Children during the holidays and delivered by Leeds City Council through Catering Leeds. These are part of a number of national pilots across the UK supported by the Government.

Response to Welfare Change and the Introduction of Universal Credit - All 6 areas will seek to assist people who find themselves in a state of food poverty because they have experienced problems with the current benefits system. These problems include: Sanctions, Benefit Delays, Under Occupancy, Benefit Freeze, been denied access to Disability Benefit, Council Tax raises and tax credit cuts. With many people moving onto Universal Credit we will make every effort to communicate clearly to people their rights and how they can navigate in the best way possible. Simultaneously, across the region we will connect with MP’s to relay any concerns we have so issues in turn can be raised nationally and progress can be made. Part of this will involve been connected to the End Hunger UK initiative, which is working with national government to help bring about policy change which will prevent people falling into Food Poverty. Brief effects of Universal Credit so far include:

Calderdale / Kirklees seeing a substantial rise in foodbank use in 2017 until the advanced payment system came in meaning not everyone had to wait 5 weeks. Once this payment was brought in foodbank use remained high but did settle down.

Leeds / Bradford / Wakefield / Keighley saw full role out come in the autumn of 2018. No initial shock in the first few weeks but we are picking up substantial problems at Foodbanks now that we have hit the New Year. Data from the Leeds South and East Foodbank, which covers 12 outlets states that 60% of people who were presenting at foodbank outlets had received no UC payment and 48% of people presenting at foodbanks, who had actually received their UC payment received less than £250 in their monthly payment. Also, less than 25% of the people who were actually working said they were better off under UC.

Improving Access to Low Cost Food

Healthy Start Vouchers – These provide free Fruit and Vegetables along with free milk for vulnerable families to access. It’s been highlighted that far more vouchers could be distributed across the region to help support families. Each of the 6 areas will seek to get Healthy Start Vouchers to major Food Aid providers that operate within each area. We will also seek to increase the number of supermarkets, food stores and local markets so that Healthy Start Vouchers that have been obtained can be used in an increased number of stores.


Supporting People in Crisis

On Location Support / Signposting to Longer Term Provision - Every area will work towards maintaining and increasing the provision of on Location Support at foodbank outlets throughout the Region.

Wakefield Food Aid Network Sign posters and advice workers to be posted at key food providers including at St Catherine’s and Church Action on Poverty offering Wrap Around Support and upskilling volunteers. Production of a regular booklet of services to help volunteers and partners signpost people to appropriate support. In addition the DWP will circulate around different food aid providers offering support to those who need assistance.

Bradford has received money from Feeding Britain to put 1 advice worker in 4 food projects (2 hot meal providers, one low cost food stall and one pay-as-you-can café) locations one day of the week each to give welfare and debt advice on location.

Leeds will be supporting vulnerable people through offering debt and welfare advice at 6 different foodbank outlets. Partnerships will be developed with a number of agencies including Better Leeds Communities, St Vincents Support Centre and the will aim to have at least 4 foodbank outlets having DWP workers situated at foodbank Outlets. Leeds North and West Foodbank to provide a trained sign poster at all its 7 outlets to help people access appropriate services.

In Kirklees the Welcome Centre in Huddersfield has a development worker works full time. They offer budgeting and signposting and general advice. The centre will be seeking to find funding for a second worker. They are next to the mission cafe – who give advice. Fusion in Dewsbury – Debt and Welfare Advice is a core part of what they do alongside food provision.

In Calderdale the Gathering Place in Halifax draws people from all over the Calder Valley. Their ‘Second Chance support team will be offering financial advice to those who need it.

In Keighley The Keighley Food Poverty Action Partnership (of which The Salvation Army is a member) offers free hot meals daily and signposting to CAP (Christians Against Poverty at Keighley Shared Church), Project 6 (Drug & Alcohol Dependency), The Good Shepherd Centre (advice, ESOL classes & support for CEE, AS & R) and CAB.  Additionally TSA operates the only formal Food Bank (with referrals) in Keighley.

Fuel Banks Strategic efforts will be made to establish Fuel Bank pilots to help assist vulnerable people with Gas and Electric tokens to help people provide for energy costs. Every effort will be made to launch pilots in Calderdale, Leeds and Kirklees in partnership with N Power and Yes Energy Solutions.

Signposting – All areas will constantly seek to develop effective signposting documentation which allows workers and volunteers to be able to access emergency food provision as quickly as is possible. Also, West Yorkshire areas will seek to make it as clear as possible where vulnerable people can access advice on Debt and Welfare challenges, including where to access Citizens Advice Services which will be providing support for people claiming Universal Credit for the first time.


Rural Poverty – Parts of West Yorkshire which include substantial rural areas will seek to become more effective in highlighting hidden food poverty and in making sure food aid can be accessed by vulnerable people living in such areas. The Welcome Centre from Kirklees and the Keighley Food Poverty Network will seek to take action in this area of hidden need.


FareShare will receive grants from Food Waste Reduction Fund, including a special grant for FareShare YorkshireFood Distribution – The different parts of West Yorkshire will seek to distribute food to where it’s needed utilising the facilities of FareShare Yorkshire, which takes food from the food industry and distributes it out to food providers across the region. FareShare will support over 160 food providers by utilising its key warehouses in Leeds, where it partners with the Leeds South and East Foodbank and in Bradford where it partners with The Store House, as bases from which to deliver food. In addition different community groups will be able to access food through the FareShare Go which enables them to collect surplus perishable foods from Tesco and Asda Stores. This can then be used to support people struggling with food poverty. It’s been highlighted that non-perishable food can be a real issue during the spring and summer months and therefore will seek to be proactive in running additional food collections including encouraging businesses and council workers to collect non-perishable food. Finally, food providers will share surplus with each other when they have it especially during the autumn, when donations come in through Harvest time and during winter when many benefit from Christmas donations. It’s at these times when surplus food is more available to share because more of it is around.


Building Food Security

The network will Map out and develop effective Connections with groups and organisations in West Yorkshire, which are enabling better Cooking Skills, Nutritional Eating and Community Food Growing. This will be developed over the next 18 months and will involve linking with other key food networks such as the Leeds Food Partnership and Out to Lunch in Calderdale. The mapping exercise will enable a more strategic approach to be developed in order to make sure that food security is not been compromised in the region and so vulnerable people struggling with food insecurity can develop good skills to help them manage their food intake. 


Leeds Food Aid Network including representatives from Leeds City Council


11 September 2019