The case studies below were selected from 69 projects submitted by census participants. These projects are what these organisations are most proud of, and although not necessarily perfect, they do have impactful elements, which will hopefully inspire others in the sector. Please click on the links below to select a particular case study.
The Alliance to Save our Antibiotics
The Alliance to Save our Antibiotics was founded by Sustain, Compassion in World Farming and the Soil Association in 2009, and is supported by the Jeremy Coller Foundation. Today, the Alliance comprises 63 organisations from across the EU that span health, medical, environmental, animal welfare and civil society sectors.
The Alliance holds that routine antibiotic use is not necessary for the successful rearing of livestock, and campaigns for reductions to antibiotic use in livestock farming within Europe, to safeguard their efficacy for humans. While the overuse of antibiotics in human medicine has long been a recognised issue, the problem of veterinary overuse has tended to escape scrutiny.
The Alliance was formed to shine the spotlight on this issue. It provides scientific evidence on the contribution of farm antibiotic use to human resistance, and it makes an evidenced-based case for farming practices that maintain animal health through good welfare and husbandry, not routine antibiotic use.
The Alliance’s primary focus is on ending the routine, purely preventative mass medication of livestock – a practice it considers to be unacceptable. The Alliance is also calling for dramatic curbs to farm use of antibiotics classified as ‘critically important’ for humans.
The Alliance is increasingly confident that public debate on the profligate use of farm antibiotics has recently turned a corner. Its work has contributed greatly to the emergence of a broad consensus on the scale of this problem – and the need for greater action from the veterinary sector. It has played a key part in influencing domestic and European policy, including the current EU reviews to the Veterinary Medicinal Products regulation, for which its suggested phrasing on routine prophylaxis was adopted in its entirety by the EU ENVI committee in early 2016. It has secured unprecedented support from the human health and medical sectors. In November, 16 Presidents representing the UK Royal Medical College and Societies signed its letter to the UK government calling for a ban to routine preventative mass medication of livestock. This was a hugely significant move.
The Alliance has worked hard to raise public awareness around farm antibiotic overuse. Between September and November 2016, its activities and investigations secured front page coverage in five UK national newspapers.
The results of its recent lab testing investigation (examining UK retail meat for resistance to key antibiotics for treating E. coli infections) were published alongside a public action which saw 10,000 individuals calling for supermarkets to tackle antibiotic use in supply chains. A corresponding Early Day Motion called on supermarkets to adopt such policies. This activity triggered unprecedented policy commitments from a major retailer and the FSA. The Alliance is pleased to see recent progress from the UK farming sector, and is committed to supporting further industry progress over the next few years.
The collective drive to tackle farm antibiotic use is entering a crucial stage. The Alliance is now close to winning the intellectual argument, and the need for action is widely accepted. Key to the campaign’s success to date has been the Alliance’s ability to evidence the contribution of farm-antibiotic use to human resistance.
Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Fisheries Animateur
This local project supporting small-scale fishermen was established by the Cornwall Rural Community Charity (CRCC), a small infrastructure charity with a passion to make Cornwall vibrant, sustainable and inclusive.
An Animateur was employed to support Cornwalls award of EU fisheries funding with diversification, equal opportunities, environmental sustainability and innovation underpining the programme. The Animateur helped develop and grow projects, securing funding and supporting applicants through the process and claims. Effort was focused on smaller projects supporting day fishers, adding value and growing the local food supply. Over 60%of funding for the Animateur came from the European Fisheries Fund axis 4 Local Action, and it has supported over 70 projects over 2 years.
Dreckly Fish is a co-operative of four fishermen using digital technology and social media to reduce the supply chain and sell directly to consumers. The Animateur and FLAG helped them develop a business plan which led to vital grant funding for the business to invest and train in IT. This created a platform for them to sell high value shellfish direct to customers using innovative methods such as live Twitter auctions whilst still at sea.
Digital technology also gave the fishermen an instant global channel through which to promote their sustainable fishing methods, the types of food they catch, and to share daily lives and stories with customers. The fishermen also received other business support such as branding and design, allowing them to highlight the sustainability of their products.
The co-operative is now totally self-sustaining, and has developed a high reputation in the food industry. Itis one of the few seafood businesses catching and selling direct to consumers. Fishers engage with customers on a daily basis, sharing photos, stories and short video clips of their daily lives, from baiting pots and heading out of the harbour, to fishing and sending the catch to customers.
The Animateur has provided support to many other small-scale fishermen in Cornwall. These include projects to reduce the impact on the marine environment by replacing shellfish pots with a new design that only targets a certain species and greatly reduces the amount of by-catch. The projects have been 80%grant aided and older pots destroyed and removed from fishing.
The Animateur and FLAG have also supported the Cornwall Good Seafood Guide, which creates a local (Cornish) version of the Marine Conservation Society rating guide. This local version more accurately represents regional waters and fish stocks, helps promote small scale fishermen and their stories by creating fishermen profiles, raises awareness about under-utilised species and provides recipes for Cornish seafood. This has been accompanied by a series of public promotional events that engage with communities young and old, and build a brand and celebrate Cornish seafood.
Good seafood guide, a Cornwall Wildlife Trust initiative.
The animateur is supported by SeafarersUK and works in partnership with the Cornwall Development Company on the European Maritime & Fisheries Fund. http://www.Cornwallrcc.org.uk.
The Brighton & Hove Food Partnership
The Brighton & Hove Food Poverty Action Plan 2015-2018 was developed via a participatory approach involving over 50 partners in agreeing 78 achievable actions.
The plan argues that the city needs to address food poverty now, to save major costs later, arising from poor mental and physical health, poor educational attainment, obesity and malnutrition. It seeks to make the most of limited resources in the city, by focusing on what we can rather than can’t do, and by trying out new approaches.
Funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Brighton & Hove Food Partnership led the collective development of the plan, which sets out 10 good practice principles for planning and prioritising future work in the city beyond the life of the action plan.
The roots of the Food Poverty Action Plan lie in the city’s food strategy, whose ethos is that a series of well-chosen smaller actions on different fronts can collectively bring about transformation.
The Food Poverty Action Plan demonstrates a uniquely positive, long term and preventative response to food poverty challenges, showing just what can be achieved when people are willing to try new approaches and, above all, work together.
Successes so far have been strategic and practical. We rolled out Chomp, our holiday hunger lunch club, into school premises for the first time, greatly increasing awareness of the issues as well as agreeing a range of ways to measure food poverty locally. This helped us track the plan’s success in the absence of government measurements.
Food poverty is complex. It is never just about money, but may involve a range of factors including access, skills, equipment and personal circumstances (e.g. ill health). Brighton and Hove has some of the highest living costs in the country and some of the lowest wages. Many factors are outside local control, and the complexity of the issues involved can be overwhelming. One of our biggest challenges was to maintain a positive vision that could energise responses and ensure support from our stakeholders.
Growing Together is a partnership initiative funded by the Big Lottery Fund that works with community growing groups across the UK. The project acts as a ‘hot-house’ for sustainable funding ideas, providing tailored support to community growing initiatives giving them the confidence, skills, and knowledge they need to move away from reliance on grants.
The programme helps to up-skill communities; kick-starts a cultural shift in income generation in the UK’s community growing sector; and works together to influence policy.
Advisors and a country-wide network of specialist consultants give help and support to community-managed growing projects. Growing Together showcases successful projects and provide tailored training to meet each community group’s specific development needs. Training can include business planning, successful marketing, effective communications, selling to restaurants, cider making and aquaculture to name a few.
Growing Together’s Local Heroes campaign inspires people to become a ‘Local Hero’ by taking action to support community growing groups in their neighbourhoods, many of which face a struggle to make ends meet. These include city farms, community gardens, community orchards, therapeutic and children’s gardens together with many other sites. Most rely on voluntary support and need more help to thrive, particularly as less local authority grant funding is now available.
As the campaign develops, the project will emphasise how the public and business sector can support food growing activities, for example subscribing to a veg box scheme, visiting a group to buy produce, helping expand growing activities as a volunteer, or through the donation of skills or food growing equipment as a business.
The project has already had a positive impact. A recent external evaluation report found that groups receiving support from the project are very happy with the way they are receiving that support.
There are real opportunities to realise a permanent local food / community growing infrastructure across the UK that delivers multiple long-term benefits for local people and their communities. Working across the UK provides an amazing opportunity to share best practice with a wide variety of community growing sites in rural and urban areas. Growing Together staff have collated a number of insights that the project has highlighted.
For instance, running events and visits is a very effective way to give support to groups. Community growing groups like to see other projects and meet the people that run them so the majority of the training events we have run are either on or near a community growing site. Working with the corporate sector takes time and perseverance, but it is worth the effort, as the corporate sector can provide an array of resources to local groups. This can be through corporate challenge days, professional support with HR or legal issues, or providing tools and materials to projects.
Social media is a good way to share knowledge and gives extra support and profile-raising for Growing Together events. It can be used for highlighting inspirational and innovative ways in which groups are using food growing activities to raise income for their work, often in deprived areas or with vulnerable people.
Sustain’s alliance campaign for a sugary drinks levy
In January 2013, Sustain published the report ‘Children’s Future Fund’ which examined the case for introducing fiscal measures to tackle obesity and promote a healthier, more sustainable diet. The report’s top recommendation was for a sugary drinks duty, with the revenue used to pay for programmes that would improve children’s health and the environment they grow up in.
Since then, Sustain has championed a sugary drinks duty, and in April 2014 it secured funding for a one day a week campaigner to develop and progress the campaign more fully.
When we launched the campaign for a sugary drinks duty in January 2013, the idea was far outside of the political mainstream. What an achievement when a sugary drinks tax became a headline measure in March 2016's Budget, and was splashed across newspaper front pages the day after. It just shows how people and campaigns can change government policy and overcome the might of industry lobbying, vested interests and initially skeptical politicians. Together we have achieved a great milestone in government intervention to improve children’s diets and health.
The campaign has sat alongside Sustain’s renowned Children’s Food Campaign, to make use of existing structures and networks of supporting organisations for campaign development and dissemination. Our campaign has always been about an evidence-based policy which is targeted, proportionate and works. But by no means was success inevitable.
CFC fully supports the Government’s introduction of a soft drinks industry levy, as a bold and important first step to protect the future health of children. But it also needs to be accompanied by a range of government-led measures – including on protecting children from exposure to sugary food marketing and promotions – similar in ambition and regulatory force for the levy to have maximum effect.
Sustain's key learning:
- Don’t be afraid of setting out a bold and radical policy solution – as long as you can back it up with evidence and a simple ask
- Make it easy for organisations to support your campaign, using inclusive language, asks, content
- Seek coalition partners to plug gaps in your argument, even if those partners are not so active. For us, CitizensUK & trade unions helped us rebut ‘tax hurts poorest’ arguments; and dentists expanded the argument from obesity to dental health
- Personalise statistics and make them engaging (e.g. our sugary drinks tax impact calculator)
- Make yourself seem bigger than you are: showcase supporters; get known in industry and media circles and become one of their first points of contact
- Seize the moment; take advantage of high profile visual targets e.g. Coca Cola’s sponsorship of London Eye
- Pro-active myth busting, by taking argument to opponents, and incorporating positive phrasing of the case, rather than repeating their myths and trying to defend against them
- Celebrity involvement such as Jamie Oliver’s profile, passion and expertise, married with our alliance of organisations and understanding of the evidence and case
- Ask for more in negotiations, and don’t be afraid of testing barriers. We made repeated asks to Petitions Committee and Health Committee about debates and giving evidence, following getting the requisite 100,000 signatures within 48 hours.
Food for Life
Food for Life is a Soil Association initiative to make good food the easy choice for everyone, whoever and wherever they are. We work with caterers to put good food on the menu in all the places where people live out their daily lives: nurseries, schools, universities, workplaces, visitor attractions, hospitals, care settings. We get people of all ages cooking and growing food again, and out onto local farms so that they have a positive connection with real food. By good food we mean a healthy and sustainable diet, based on food produced with low climate impact and high animal welfare standards. We also believe that food only has half its value when eaten alone.
We are proud that Food for Life is achieving impact at scale, and helping to normalise a broader definition of ‘good food’ that goes beyond nutrition to include sustainability and ethics. Over 1.7 million meals a day are now being served to Food for Life Catering Mark standards, including lunches in 10,000 schools and, most recently, in every National Trust property.
Alongside this, our Food for Life School Award pioneered the ‘whole school approach to food’, providing a clear framework for the school canteen, food education and community engagement.
The biggest challenge for NGOs and funders in this sector is how to build recognition among policy makers and commissioners that good food is worth investing in. Our new focus on older people, through the Food for Life Better Care programme supported by the Big Lottery Fund, is recognition that good food and shared mealtimes are particularly important to older people’s health and wellbeing. It is also, in part, a response to the uncertainty over public health budgets, which means that we urgently need the NHS to focus on the all-important role of good food in prevention. The invest-to-save case is overwhelming in the long term for children and young people, but the potential savings from tackling malnutrition and isolation among older people through food are that much more immediate.
Footprint’s Women’s Centre
Footprints Women’s Centre has delivered support services in the Colin Neighbourhood for over twenty years, adapting and tailoring these services to match the needs of women and children in an area of multiple disadvantages. These services include Women and Family Support, Crisis intervention, Training & Education and Sustainable Living.
Footprints Women’s Centre operates as a social enterprise, with its trading arm providing a significant proportion of the Centre’s funding. It has developed a strong ethos of self -help, created employment in the heart of a disadvantaged community, building skills and self -confidence. We have an established track record of delivering services, drawing in partners across the multi-agency spectrum and effecting change.
Food poverty and nutrition related illness is a daily reality for many families in the Colin district of West Belfast, a housing development with a population in excess of 30,000 and a poorly developed infrastructure.
The Centre has been fostering initiatives to improve access to healthy food at affordable prices and promote Sustainable Living, from its inception in 1991. Action Research carried out by the Centre identified the local barriers to good food choices, noting the limited access to high quality, reasonably priced food, especially fruit and vegetables. This research laid the foundations of Footprints Community Food Initiative which addresses health inequalities through the provision of sustainable and healthy food.
The initiatives and services which Footprints Community Food Initiative has delivered include:
- The provision of low cost meals to 50 women and 70 children daily at Footprints Café and Footprints Daycare Facility
- Derelict ground at the Centre was transformed into a Kitchen Garden which supplies fresh fruit and vegetables for the Café and distributes surplus produce to Centre Users.
- Footprints has developed a unique OCN accredited programme combining the elements of parenting, training, environmental awareness, together with good nutrition and budgeting. Mothers and children come together to enjoy the shared experience of growing fruit and vegetables, learning to cook nutritionally balanced meals and how to budget and shop. The practical life skills that are offered through this course are invaluable for families
- Diet and Nutritional health information and advice workshops are delivered to address dietary related illness and ill health such as Childhood Obesity and Type2 Diabetes.
- Footprints Sustainable Living Strategy has progressed local projects to address global challenges of resource depletion, the sustainability of food supplies and climate change. E.g. In 2013 the energy efficiency of the building was upgraded and renewable technology installed. The Centre has reduced carbon emissions by 30% per annum.
- Footprints Women’s Centre is a community member of Fareshare, Island of Ireland. Surplus food from retailers and manufacturers which would have went to landfill is used at the Centre to provide additional meals for vulnerable families
- Footprints Women’s Centre have established a Community Food Shop based on the social supermarket model which provides ambient food to families in food poverty. This service was developed as an alternative to referral to food banks
Nourish initiated and co-convened the Scottish Food Coalition to broaden collective civil society engagement in food issues. It took inspiration from the ‘Square Meal’ report and saw an opportunity to influence further development of the Scottish Government’s ‘Good Food Nation’ policy (which Nourish had already influenced).
Rather than focus on one issue, Nourish sought to build a collective commitment to tackling a range of food issues in parallel, including food insecurity, biodiversity, climate change, public health, workers’ rights, farm support policy and animal welfare.
The work was funded by Scottish Environment Link, the Tudor Trust and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.
The project has already achieved the following:
- A joint report 'Plenty: food, farming and health in a new Scotland', calling for a just transition in the food system. This was debated in Parliament in March 2016.
- A series of hustings on food and farming issues in the run-up to the 2016 Scottish election, a fringe meeting at the SNP Party Conference, plus engagement with manifesto teams from all parties. This led to one of the key asks – a cross-cutting food farming and health bill – being included in SNP, Labour and Green manifestos. The Bill is now in the programme for government, with consultation starting in 2017.
- Maintaining and broadening coalition engagement. RSPB co-convenes the coalition (also lending its reputation and access to its highly competent Parliamentary team) and Nourish has active involvement from Unite, Unison, Soil Association, food research networks, allotments and community growing, Scottish Crofting Federation, Common Weal, Diabetes Scotland, Cancer Research UK and others.
- Discussion documents to inform the consultation on the Good Food Nation bill, and a series of seven parliamentary events from January to June 2017 to brief legislators on food policy issues, drawing on global best practice.
In response to the report from the short-life working group on food poverty (to which Nourish contributed significantly), the Scottish Government confirmed it will consider building the ‘right to food’ into the Good Food Nation bill.
Overall, the project has made it difficult for the forthcoming food bill to be narrowly focused. It has also (post-EU referendum) created the possibility of connecting discussions of agricultural support with wider public policy goals.
This work has been distinctive in the high level of cohesion within the coalition, and the willingness of participating organisations to look broader than their specific agenda.
Many external factors have helped this project be effective: an existing national food policy, strong focus from the Scottish Government on social justice issues, some organisations’ previous experience of co-operative working, on the Procurement Reform Act, Climate Change Act and in Environment Link.
Current funding supports 2-3 days per week of staff input, and this means that the coalition depends on active support from all core members, help with room hire, printing costs, catering for events and so on.
The most challenging aspect has been reaching agreement on timing. It would be easier to first come up with five or 10 key asks for the Bill. However, it is important to have an extensive, inclusive process of public engagement in this pre-legislative phase, bearing in mind there is a danger of waiting too long and finding the Bill team has already started work on the shape of the legislation.
While Scotland has a commitment to joined-up food policy, this has not yet been established in England. The system in England is larger, more compartmentalised and less committed to an inclusive, rights-based agenda. However, there may be enough common cause for civil society to make the case for a joined-up food policy and food bill.