Love Southampton Food Report

The headline results are simply staggering. Over 1.4 million meals were distributed in a year, equivalent to £5.8 million worth of food, delivered by 18,720 hours of work by volunteers. Moreover, this support has moved from emergency food aid to become a critical service in the support of the most marginalised in our society. There is clear evidence that children in schools struggle to concentrate during a school day without this provision simply because they are hungry.

The headline results are simply staggering. Over 1.4 million meals were distributed in a year,
equivalent to £5.8 million worth of food, delivered by 18,720 hours of work by volunteers.
Moreover, this support has moved from emergency food aid to become a critical service in
the support of the most marginalised in our society. There is clear evidence that children in
schools struggle to concentrate during a school day without this provision simply because
they are hungry.


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<strong>Food</strong> Poverty and <strong>Food</strong> Distribution:<br />

the role that Faith-based groups have in<br />

providing and caring for their communities<br />

Written by Jean Hirst and Professor Keith Brown

Page 2

Contents<br />

1. Foreword 5<br />

2. Executive Summary 6<br />

3. About the authors 11<br />

4. Introduction 12<br />

5. Context 13<br />

5.1. Introduction to the problems of food and the 13<br />

Cost of living crisis<br />

5.2. Introduction to the work of faith groups 14<br />

and organisations more widely in the UK<br />

5.3. Introduction to the evaluation 15<br />

6. <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> and conceptual frameworks 17<br />

6.1. Introduction to <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> 17<br />

6.2. Interventions provided through the network 18<br />

6.2.1. Emergency food aid 18<br />

6.2.2. Marketplaces and pantry projects 19<br />

6.3. Cross sector partnerships and networks 21<br />

6.3.1. Cost of living Summmits 21<br />

6.3.2. Faith Covenant Relaunch 22<br />

6.3.3. Signposting & Communications 24<br />

7. Methodology 25<br />

8. Results – <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong>’s outputs 26<br />

8.1. <strong>Food</strong> distributed in a week 26<br />

8.2. From supplier to service user – what does it take? 27<br />

8.2.1. Sourcing and supply 28<br />

8.2.2. Storage 29<br />

8.2.3. Service provision 31<br />

9. Results - Impact of food aid on service users 33<br />

9.1. Access to food /emergency food aid 33<br />

9.2. Schools and children – learning and behaviour 35<br />

9.3. Mental health and wellbeing through agency 37<br />

and choice<br />

9.4. Mental health and wellbeing through social 39<br />

connection<br />

9.5. Signposting and understanding people’s problems 41<br />

holistically<br />

10. Results – How are effective partnerships built? 43<br />

10.1. Reliability and credibility 43<br />

10.2. Agility 45<br />

10.3. Knowing and being part of the community 45<br />

10.4. Honesty and authenticity 47<br />

10.5. Personal Relationships 49<br />

11. Conclusion 51<br />

12. Recommendations 53<br />

12.1. For organisations and charities 53<br />

12.2. For partnerships 53<br />

12.3. For national government, policy makers, 55<br />

and funders<br />

13. References 56<br />

Page 3

Page 4

1. Foreword<br />

During the recent past we have seen a huge rise in the number and scale of food banks within<br />

our society . <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong>, which represents the social welfare outputs of the churches<br />

in <strong>Southampton</strong> has also witnessed this rise, both in the number and types of provision of<br />

food. As a part of this growth we were successful with an application for a Faith New Deal<br />

grant from the government to support further developments and also to explore the impact<br />

of food aid and food redistribution in the city.<br />

To this end, during the later part of 2022 through to January 2023 we undertook a large-scale<br />

evaluation of the impact of food aid and food redistribution in <strong>Southampton</strong>. Jean Hirst was<br />

commissioned to lead this evaluation and this report details the findings of the research and<br />

the evidence of the impact of the work done by churches in <strong>Southampton</strong>.<br />

The headline results are simply staggering. Over 1.4 million meals were distributed in a year,<br />

equivalent to £5.8 million worth of food, delivered by 18,720 hours of work by volunteers.<br />

Moreover, this support has moved from emergency food aid to become a critical service in<br />

the support of the most marginalised in our society. There is clear evidence that children in<br />

schools struggle to concentrate during a school day without this provision simply because<br />

they are hungry.<br />

It is significant to note the way food support in the city has progressed from individual<br />

donations of food and money to support food aid, to one of food redistribution on a very<br />

large scale. The Big Difference works on the model of accepting and collecting food at or<br />

towards the end of its shelf life - food that otherwise would end up in landfill - and<br />

redistributing it to those in need in the city. The collection of this food from wholesalers,<br />

restaurants, supermarkets and more, its sorting, recording, storage and delivery to those in<br />

need is an awe inspiring and highly effective process. It prevents food waste, reduces landfill,<br />

feeds the hungry and provides much needed social cohesion and support, and is clearly a<br />

model that could and should be replicated in other parts of the country. It is a real testament<br />

to the impact of churches in our society at the very front line of need .<br />

Finally, on behalf of all those people who have benefitted from those 1.4 million meals, thank<br />

you to all of the volunteers from the churches in <strong>Southampton</strong> who have collected, lifted,<br />

moved, recorded, stored and distributed this food. You are all stars and bring hope to our<br />

city. <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong>’s strapline is ‘There is Hope’ and you have all been great examples of<br />

this in action.<br />

Prof Keith Brown<br />

Independent Chair of <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong><br />

March 2023<br />

Page 5

2. Executive Summary<br />

This Impact Evaluation reports the outputs, impacts, and activities that contribute<br />

to effective collaboration between <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong>, faith-based organisations<br />

and the local government in providing solutions to the increasing problem of food<br />

poverty. By showcasing the examples of collaboration in <strong>Southampton</strong> this<br />

report demonstrates the benefits and importance of cross-sector collaboration<br />

and some of the lessons learned that can:<br />

a) inform policy and decision making,<br />

b) help secure continued support from national government for faith<br />

groups, and<br />

c) encourage other local authorities and organisations to bring social value<br />

and solutions through such collaborations.<br />

The UK now finds itself in a cost of living crisis. November 2022 saw inflation<br />

reach a 41 year high, caused by disruptions in the supply chain, all while the<br />

economy continues to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.<br />

The unprecedented rises in inflation have caused the price of food and fuel to<br />

increase with people seeing their bills become more expensive. Yet, without an<br />

equivalent increase in their wages or in government benefits an increasing<br />

number of people are struggling to pay these bills and provide food for their<br />

households. Advice in <strong>Southampton</strong> (a free advice partnership) recorded a 39%<br />

increase in food bank referrals and queries regarding fuel debt between January<br />

and September in 2021 and January and September 2022.<br />

Page 6<br />

Recognising the partnerships with faith groups nationally through the pandemic,<br />

the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) launched<br />

the Faith New Deal Pilot Fund. The fund distributed £1.3 million to 16 faith-based<br />

organisations with the goal of building upon innovative projects to provide<br />

solutions to local problems for the most vulnerable, as well as helping to<br />

establish principles for ongoing relationships between faith groups and<br />

government. <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> were one of the successful applicants, receiving<br />

the fifth largest allocation of funding.

<strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> exists to support and represent Christian churches and<br />

charitable organisations in the goal of supporting those most in need in the<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> area. Their strapline “Through the Church, for the City‘’ encapsulates<br />

the aims of mobilising and connecting Christians in <strong>Southampton</strong> to help people<br />

struggling with food and debt while seeking to help integrate students and<br />

refugees into the city. During the pandemic, <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> played a<br />

prominent role working in conjunction with <strong>Southampton</strong> City Council and other<br />

organisations to provide emergency food aid to the most vulnerable.<br />

Using data from <strong>Southampton</strong>’s first food aid census in December 2022, as well as<br />

the administrative records of The Big Difference, an estimated 28,000 meals were<br />

distributed across <strong>Southampton</strong> in one week (with 28,000 meals as the average<br />

for one week, an estimated 1.45 million meals would have been distributed in a<br />

year). The census captured the food aid given by 21 different projects in one week.<br />

The majority of meals was given through food banks, with 5,857 meals given via<br />

pantries and food membership clubs. Of note, over 12 tonnes of surplus food had<br />

been redistributed through the 28,000 meals to projects and people in need.<br />

The majority of this report presents the findings from a series of 52 interviews<br />

with participants ranging from service users, faith leaders, service providers, and<br />

members of local government. The findings share a deeper understanding of the<br />

lessons and activities from across the supply chain that enable such a wide<br />

impact. There is a focus on the opportunities harnessed by The Big Difference in<br />

redistributing surplus food directly from suppliers and supermarkets, which if<br />

capitalised upon can reduce the need to supplement the donations received in<br />

donation boxes by buying food from supermarkets or other wholesalers.<br />

Currently the limiting factor to scalability lies in not having a large enough storage<br />

facility as the surplus food is given in such large quantities. Having more storage<br />

would enable surplus food to be redistributed to even more projects. Attention is<br />

given to the way in which <strong>Southampton</strong> City Mission, one of <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong>’s<br />

partner charities, equips and empowers churches in specific geographical<br />

locations to provide food aid to those who are not yet in an emergency while also<br />

using their food hubs (known as marketplaces) as a way to see communities come<br />

together and address the issues of isolation. They focus on having an impact at a<br />

community level, not only in creating hubs where the community can come and<br />

access support and resources supporting some of the wider issues linked to the<br />

cost of living crisis, but by training, investing and equipping the local churches<br />

and volunteers to take ownership of the project.<br />

The key themes emerging from interviews with some of the service users, clients,<br />

and members, show that the impact of the meals given goes beyond the hunger<br />

level, having a positive effect on mental health and wellbeing. Places and projects<br />

that gave emergency food, such as food banks, Basics Banks and meal providers<br />

did have a positive impact in relieving hunger, with service users commenting how<br />

they would not know where they would get their next meal from without these<br />

places. The social element had a positive impact on the wellbeing of the people<br />

who attended.<br />

The interviews with staff from primary and junior schools highlighted the impact<br />

that the food parcels had on the lives of families and children. Where children did<br />

not have adequate, nutritionally balanced meals there was a negative impact on<br />

the energy and attention span of children, sometimes leading to challenging<br />

behaviour, and difficulties in learning. All of the schools identified that the need<br />

Page 7

was growing for food support as parents were starting to see the impacts of the<br />

cost of living crisis. When food has such a significant effect on learning and<br />

behaviour, and at a young age, there could be longer term effects within<br />

communities with regard to employability. This highlights the need for continued<br />

support with food for families and children.<br />

The mental health and wellbeing of members and clients of marketplaces (and<br />

their equivalents) was also being positively impacted. Individuals felt lower<br />

levels of stress and helplessness as they experienced greater agency and control<br />

through being able to pay a membership subscription and choose the items of<br />

food themselves. The knowledge that they could plan their menus and time<br />

accordingly contributed to these feelings of control and agency, reduced feelings<br />

of anxiety, and had a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing. Being able<br />

to access more affordable food often reduced the tough ‘trade off’ decisions such<br />

as a parent having to go hungry in order to feed their child, or turning off the<br />

heating in order to pay for food. These decisions and outcomes were said to have<br />

contributed negatively to members’ mental health and wellbeing, and so<br />

accessing the food support enabled not only better outcomes, but less stress and<br />

anxiety over decision making.<br />

Another positive impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing was the social<br />

element of being able to build and develop relationships with the volunteers and<br />

people in similar situations. People felt welcomed, cared for, unjudged and not<br />

pressured by the volunteers and this helped to combat the shame and stigma that<br />

is still sometimes perceived when accessing support. The way in which volunteers<br />

shared joy and encouragement in all of the different food projects was noticed by<br />

service users and partner organisations alike.<br />

Many of the marketplaces and venues providing food aid were also using the<br />

space as an opportunity to address some of the wider issues in the community<br />

such as loneliness, health, language barriers and information about government<br />

benefits. Through a combination of signposting to other activities in the<br />

community such as English language lessons, community events, and inviting<br />

in other agencies such as the NHS, and SO:Linked, members were able to gain<br />

information or support for some of the other issues and challenges they were<br />

facing in their lives.<br />

Page 8<br />

The last section of findings focuses on highlighting some of the contributing<br />

factors to effective partnerships from the perspective of local government,<br />

commissioning services, and partner organisations. Reliability and credibility were<br />

seen as important elements in developing trust, knowing that actions and projects<br />

would actually happen. Reliability in being contactable and available at meetings<br />

also contributed to organisations being trusted. The agility with which faith-based<br />

organisations are able to respond to people’s needs rapidly was seen as a strength,<br />

allowing support and aid to reach communities more effectively. This agility also<br />

enabled organisations to be bold and respond to problems with solutions. Due to<br />

their position within and engagement with their local communities, faith-based<br />

groups were able to identify needs in the community, as well as collaborate with<br />

local authority to create fit-for-purpose solutions. This knowledge of the<br />

community means that while marketplaces and projects often followed similar<br />

models, they varied in the wider signposting and help that was provided. Honesty<br />

and authenticity were key elements in working cross-sector. Authenticity around<br />

a proven motive to help all people within communities meant that any concerns

egarding ulterior motives were greatly reduced. While faith groups didn’t hide<br />

the fact that their faith motivated their actions in providing support, they had<br />

shown that their goal was indeed to offer, love, hope and support which helped<br />

to build trust. Honesty and humility meant that organisations could harness<br />

each other’s strengths and weaknesses, avoid duplication, and fill in gaps; all<br />

contributing to the overall impact in the community. The final theme arising from<br />

the interviews on effective partnerships is the importance of personal<br />

relationships. When addressing complex and deep issues within the community,<br />

having regular contact with one another through which encouragement and<br />

support was given was a positive determinant of effective and ongoing<br />

partnerships.<br />

The example of collaborations in <strong>Southampton</strong>, as seen in this report,<br />

demonstrates the significant impact that can be achieved when local authorities,<br />

commissioning services, and faith groups collaborate together. There is still a very<br />

real need for these collaborations and partnerships to take place with the<br />

ongoing cost of living crisis, and for any future issues relating to communities and<br />

society.<br />

Recommendations<br />

Recommendations are made at three levels:<br />

• organisational<br />

• partnership<br />

• national<br />

At an organisational level we recommend a focus on effective data gathering<br />

relating to how outputs link to specific outcomes. Not only does having useful<br />

data demonstrate credibility and accountability, but by being able to identify<br />

specific causal relationships between the outputs there is an opportunity to make<br />

more informed, strategic decisions which will lead to greater impact.<br />

We also make recommendations regarding sustainability and succession planning,<br />

particularly for faith-based organisations that rely upon small teams of key<br />

people.<br />

At a partnership level we recommend that the work continues to develop an<br />

asset map that clearly shows the assets of the community. This map can continue<br />

the work of signposting and referrals, but should also be used in decision making<br />

when looking at implementation of initiatives and campaigns, and potential<br />

partnership opportunities.<br />

While continuing to share information and best practice is still important, we<br />

recommend developing partnerships beyond this knowledge transfer stage to one<br />

of increased collaboration and innovation in creating specific solutions to local<br />

problems utilising the assets that already exist in the community. To optimise the<br />

impact of partnerships requires more than a recognition and encouragement of<br />

each organisation’s services and strengths, it requires a commitment to problem<br />

solving and co-creating specific projects and strategic goals aimed at reaching the<br />

most vulnerable.<br />

Page 9

Page 10<br />

At a national level this report proposes that grants and funding continue to be<br />

given to faith groups that are working in partnership to provide solutions to local<br />

problems. However, recognising the time to implement interventions, and that<br />

many longer term impacts may not be captured within a short funding period,<br />

longer funding periods are recommended in order to see and learn from this<br />

wider growth.

3. About the authors<br />

Jean Hirst<br />

Jean Hirst has 5 years’ experience leading and<br />

developing teams in the charity sector and is<br />

passionate about enabling organisations to<br />

become more effective in having lasting positive<br />

impact. He has over 10 years’ experience in public<br />

presentation, communicating with a wide variety of<br />

different contexts and settings. Since completing his<br />

Master’s degree in Management Consultancy and<br />

Organisational Change, he is focused on<br />

undertaking research that enables a deeper<br />

understanding of some of the challenges and<br />

changes that people face, and using these insights to<br />

co-create solutions for individuals and organisations.<br />

Professor Keith Brown<br />

Professor Keith Brown was the founding<br />

Director of the National Centre for Post<br />

Qualifying Social Work and Professional<br />

Practice and he is an Emeritus Professor at<br />

Bournemouth University where the Social<br />

Work department was ranked number 1<br />

in the UK in the 2020 and 2021 Guardian<br />

League Table.<br />

In 2005 he was awarded the Linda Ammon memorial prize sponsored by the then<br />

Department for Education and Skills awarded to the individual making the<br />

greatest contribution to education and training in the UK. He was awarded a<br />

Chartered Trading Standards Institute Institutional Hero award in 2017<br />

recognising the significance of his research into financial fraud and scams .<br />

He sits on the Department of Health and Social Care Safeguarding Advisory Board,<br />

the joint Department of Housing and Social Care and Ministrey of Justice,<br />

National Mental Capacity Leadership forum and the Home Office Joint Financial<br />

task force.<br />

He has written over 35 text books in the fields of social work and leadership and is<br />

particularly known for his contributions in the areas of Mental Capacity and<br />

Leadership.<br />

For the past 7 years he has led the national research into fraud and scams on<br />

behalf of the National Trading Standards Scams team and the Chartered Trading<br />

Standards Institute.<br />

Since his retirement from a full-time academic post, he has been the Independent<br />

Chair of the NHS Safeguarding Adults National Network, the Chair of the<br />

Worcestershire Safeguarding Adults Board, Chair of the West of Berkshire<br />

Safeguarding Adults Board and the Chair of <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong>. He is also an<br />

ambassador for ‘Faith in Later Life’ and a member of Above Bar Church,<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong>.<br />

Page 11

4. Introduction<br />

Living in a post-covid world amidst the current cost of living crisis sees the<br />

continuing growth of problems in people’s everyday lives. Notably, with overall<br />

inflation reaching a 41-year high at 11.1% in October 2022, and food inflation<br />

reaching 16.9% in the year between November 2021 and 2022, more people are<br />

struggling with food poverty and increasing fuel prices (ONS, 2022). With<br />

resources in the welfare state not able to meet the demand, and with the<br />

increased pressures created by the cost of living crisis, the importance and the<br />

value of faith groups within their communities is being seen and built upon.<br />

Through the pandemic many local authorities intentionally partnered with faith<br />

groups to provide aid and relief to their communities and neighbourhoods.<br />

Recognising the continuing challenges and the social capital that faith groups<br />

have, leveraging these relationships can have great benefits and effectiveness in<br />

finding solutions to problems locally.<br />

This impact evaluation focuses on the partnerships in <strong>Southampton</strong>, using <strong>Love</strong><br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> as an example through which collaboration between local<br />

government and faith-based groups are seeing a substantial impact in the lives of<br />

local people. Despite being an area showing signs of economic recovery,<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> has higher levels of deprivation and need than is commonly<br />

perceived of the South. The local government and welfare commissioning<br />

services are continuing to develop and foster effective partnerships with faith<br />

groups, charities and other organisations in meeting this need.<br />

Following an introduction to the evaluation, as well as the evaluation<br />

methodology, this report presents the different activities that <strong>Love</strong><br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> engages with in their community. It looks particularly at food aid<br />

and the cross-sector partnerships in <strong>Southampton</strong>.<br />

Then an overview of the outputs in the area of food provision and surplus food<br />

redistribution is provided, as well as a discussion on the activities and lessons<br />

learnt from local leaders following the journey through the supply chain from<br />

sourcing to service provision.<br />

The findings from the interviews of the recipients of food aid are then presented,<br />

demonstrating the value of the outputs within the community. Having discussed<br />

the impacts from the perspective of the service user, this report proceeds to<br />

draw attention to the findings of the interviews with <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong>’s<br />

partners, and in doing so<br />

describes and defines some of<br />

the characteristics of effective<br />

collaboration.<br />

Page 12

5. Context<br />

5.1. Introduction to the problems of food and the<br />

Cost of living crisis<br />

The UK currently finds itself in a<br />

difficult economic situation with<br />

an increasing number of<br />

households struggling to pay<br />

their rising energy bills. The<br />

country is recovering from a<br />

drop of 3.1% between 2019 and<br />

2020 in the national Gross<br />

Added Value (the total value of<br />

services and goods produced)<br />

due to the coronavirus<br />

pandemic (<strong>Southampton</strong> Data<br />

Observatory, 2022.) However,<br />

the pandemic had an impact<br />

far beyond global and national<br />

economies with at least 175,000<br />

people having died and more<br />

than 21 million cases of the virus<br />

recorded.<br />

In addition, while navigating the impact of Brexit on the economy and in<br />

commerce, disruptions in the supply chain, and ongoing war in Ukraine there have<br />

been unprecedented rates of inflation (an increase in the consumer price index<br />

(CPI) from 2% to 10.1% between July 2021 and July 2022). Without an equivalent<br />

increase in wages people are struggling to pay for the same food and energy at<br />

an increased cost. This decrease in ‘real’ disposable income has led to the cost of<br />

living crisis.<br />

The price of food and non-alcoholic beverages had been rising for 17 consecutive<br />

months, and saw an increase of 16.9% between November 2021 and 2022.<br />

Furthermore, the Consumer Prices Index (the average change in prices paid by<br />

consumers over a period of time for a basket of goods) rose by 9.2%, increasing<br />

the pressures on families (Office for National Statistics (ONS), 2023). One of the<br />

ways that families respond to the rising prices is by buying less food, with the<br />

Opinion and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) seeing 51% of participants report that they<br />

had brought less food, and the rate rising to 61% in more deprived areas.<br />

The OPN analyses responses between the 22nd June 2022 and 11th September 2022<br />

from 13,305 adults over the age of 16 from across Great Britain (Office for National<br />

Statistics (ONS), 2022). The national statistics demonstrate some of the challenges<br />

that people are facing, with 45% of adults who paid energy bills reporting it to be<br />

difficult (an increase of 5% from the previous pooled period).<br />

The Trussell Trust group, who support a network of over 1200 food banks across<br />

the UK, reported having distributed over 2.1million food parcels in 2021/22, seeing<br />

an 81% increase over the last five years, and a 14% increase from the previous year<br />

(Trussell Trust, 2022). These statistics further show the growing struggle that<br />

people in Great Britain are experiencing with food.<br />

Page 13

However, the analysis showed that the cost of living crisis does not affect all<br />

people equally. The rate was higher for adults with disabilities, with 55% reporting<br />

that they had found it difficult to afford their energy bills. Economic factors also<br />

played a role with around half of people with an income of less than £20,000 per<br />

year saying they found it hard to afford energy, and 23% of those earning £50,000<br />

or more in a year. This information should be used to identify and prioritise<br />

support to those who are being affected the most.<br />

It is important to note that the problems arising with food in the pandemic are<br />

not due to a lack of food, but rather people struggling with accessing and<br />

affording it. The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) estimated that<br />

in 2018, 9.5million tonnes of food were wasted by UK households, hospitality and<br />

food services, and the retail and wholesale sectors (The Waste and Resources<br />

Action Programme, 2021). While there are losses that happen during the farming<br />

process, the waste that ensues after food has been harvested is estimated at 70%<br />

in households, 16% in manufacturing, 12% in the hospitality and food service, and<br />

3% in retail. Two of the main causes of waste in the distribution stage are the<br />

challenges of storing perishable products, and products being damaged. In the<br />

retail sector some of the issues are with stock-rotation or inaccurate forecasting,<br />

resulting in overstocking (Jeswani, Figeuroa-Torres, & Azapagic, 2021).<br />

With the problems associated with the cost of living crisis continuing to mount, it<br />

becomes even more important for collaborations to continue between national<br />

and local government, organisations and faith-groups in order to provide<br />

solutions to these problems.<br />

5.2. Introduction to the work of faith groups<br />

and organisations more widely in the UK<br />

The release of the 2021 Census shows that in the UK 56.8% identified themselves<br />

with having a religion (with 37.2% reporting no religion and 6% choosing not to<br />

answer the question). As well as representing some 33.8 million people, faith<br />

groups contribute valuable social capital in their communities through their<br />

commitments to social action and positive impact in health and wellbeing.<br />

The coronavirus pandemic saw an increase in partnerships between local<br />

authorities and faith groups. The Keeping The Faith report stated that of 194 local<br />

authorities, 67% had seen an increase in partnerships with faith groups<br />

during the pandemic, with 91% saying the experience was either ‘very positive’ or<br />

‘positive’ (Keeping the Faith: Partnerships between faith groups and local<br />

authorities during and beyond the pandemic, 2020).<br />

Page 14<br />

According to the Keeping The Faith report, local authorities said that faith groups<br />

were most active in the areas of food poverty, mental health and wellbeing,<br />

support for asylum seekers and in projects against racism. When asked which<br />

aspects of partnering with faith groups most characterised local authorities’<br />

experience in the pandemic, 60% of respondents said that faith groups added<br />

value to a great extent due to their longstanding presence in local communities.<br />

79% responded that ‘to some extent’ or ‘to a great extent’ that partnerships were<br />

characterised by faith-groups being able to provide a pool of volunteer resources.<br />

79% said that improving access to hard to reach groups most characterised their<br />

experience of partnering with faith groups during the pandemic.

While the pandemic saw an increase in partnerships between local authorities<br />

and faith groups, there exists an opportunity to be intentional in continuing,<br />

developing and growing these partnerships to have impact beyond the pandemic.<br />

At a national level, funds such as the Faith New Deal show support and awareness<br />

of the continued social value that faith groups bring to their communities in the<br />

areas of mental wellbeing and loneliness, debt advice, food poverty,<br />

employability and increased community engagement.<br />

Furthermore, the Faith New Deal fund demonstrates the importance of the<br />

sharing of knowledge between organisations, towns and cities where such<br />

collaborations already exist and are having impact within their communities.<br />

5.3. Introduction to the evaluation<br />

This evaluation was commissioned by <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> as part of the funding<br />

received by City Life Church in the Faith New Deal grant from the Department of<br />

Levelling Up Housing and Communities. The project was structured and overseen<br />

in conjunction with <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong>’s Independent Chair and members of the<br />

Executive Board.<br />

First, this impact evaluation seeks to determine and describe the specific<br />

outputs achieved by <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> and provide a deeper understanding of<br />

the processes, conditions and relationships that have led to these outputs being<br />

delivered. Second, this evaluation seeks to evidence some of the impacts in the<br />

lives of service users who have received food aid. Finally, this impact evaluation<br />

seeks to understand and present the contributing factors to effective cross sector<br />

relationships between faith groups and local government during and since the<br />

COVID19 pandemic.<br />

The evaluation examines <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong>, an initiative of churches and<br />

charities working together to support those who are most vulnerable in<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong>. While <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> supports a range of social projects<br />

relating to food, debt, students, and refugees, this report focuses specifically<br />

on the area of food poverty. Partnering with organisations that provide services<br />

across <strong>Southampton</strong>, <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> aims to demonstrate that faith groups<br />

have a role to play in supporting communities to solve local problems through<br />

providing direct support to those at risk of hunger. By hosting events such as The<br />

Cost of living Summit, <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> have aimed to increase awareness of<br />

the work being carried out, as well as acting as a catalyst through knowledge<br />

sharing and networking opportunities. With partnerships operating across food<br />

redistribution networks, a more holistic understanding of the processes and<br />

challenges can be developed and shared.<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> is a port city located in Hampshire in the south of England. It has a<br />

population size of 248,922, (<strong>Southampton</strong> Data Observatory, 2022). In the 2021<br />

National Census <strong>Southampton</strong> saw a 40.3% increase in people identifying as<br />

Muslim compared to 2011. The percentage of Christians decreased by 18.1%. The<br />

2021 Census shows the changes and diversity regarding faith and religion in<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong>:<br />

● 43.4% no religion<br />

● 0.7% any other religion<br />

● 40.1% Christian<br />

● 0.5% Buddhist<br />

●<br />

●<br />

●<br />

5.6% Muslim<br />

1.7% Sikh<br />

1.3% Hindu<br />

●<br />

●<br />

0.1% Jewish<br />

With 6.6% choosing not to<br />

answer the question<br />

Page 15

Alongside the national Gross Value Added (GVA) decrease of -3.1% in 2020,<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong>’s economy was estimated to be worth £7.2billion, £452million less<br />

than in 2019 (-5.9%). While the economy slowly continues to grow, the effects<br />

of high inflation (particularly on food and energy bills) will continue to have a<br />

negative impact, particularly with rising fuel and food prices. <strong>Southampton</strong> Data<br />

Observatory estimates that 50% of households have a discretionary income below<br />

£135 per month and 16% of households have a monthly discretionary income<br />

below £0. These estimates show that the challenges are not going to go away<br />

quickly, and that more and more people will be struggling to pay for food and<br />

energy. The solutions and support of faith groups within their communities has<br />

even more significance and value as more people experience challenges.<br />

PWC’s Good Growth Cities ranks <strong>Southampton</strong> 10th out of 50 cities on an index<br />

rating cities across 12 different measures of economic well-being that lead to<br />

economic success, and estimates that under the ‘limited growth scenario’ (in<br />

which the continued estimated effects of inflation, post-Brexit transition and<br />

supply chain disruption are accounted for) national GVA would grow by 4.5% in<br />

2022 (PwC, 2022). <strong>Southampton</strong> Data Observatory estimates that with these<br />

figures, the economy could be £500 million above the 2019 pre-pandemic baseline<br />

(worth over £8.2million) (<strong>Southampton</strong> Data Observatory, 2022).<br />

Despite <strong>Southampton</strong>’s economic growth following the trend lines of the South,<br />

its deprivation levels are more in line with cities with higher levels of deprivation.<br />

Where 1 is the most deprived, <strong>Southampton</strong> were ranked 55th on average out of<br />

317 Local Authorities Areas, with comparator cities Leeds 92nd and Sheffield in<br />

93rd. Local Authority Areas with similar levels of deprivation include Portsmouth,<br />

ranked 57th and Peterborough ranked 53rd. An estimated 12% of <strong>Southampton</strong>’s<br />

population live in neighbourhoods within the 10% most deprived nationally with<br />

Bargate, Weston (International Way), Weston (Kingsclere Avenue), Thornhill and<br />

Millbrook being some of the most deprived areas in <strong>Southampton</strong>. The percentage<br />

is higher for those under the age of 18, demonstrating a higher estimated impact<br />

on the lives of children (<strong>Southampton</strong> Data Observatory, 2020). Seven domains of<br />

deprivation are used to create the Index of Multiple Deprivation. These go further<br />

than looking at income and include employment, education, health, crime,<br />

barriers to housing and services, and living environment. Therefore, while<br />

economic growth may be increasing, an area can still suffer in other domains<br />

which explains some of the demand for the services and support provided by<br />

<strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> and similar organisations.<br />

The findings of this impact evaluation are an important contribution to decisions<br />

relating to the government’s wider relationship with faith groups. Additionally,<br />

this report aims to encourage action by local government, faith groups and the<br />

voluntary sector by offering valuable insights into providing aid to those who are<br />

most vulnerable.<br />

Page 16

6. <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> and conceptual<br />

frameworks<br />

6.I. Introduction to <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong><br />

<strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong>’s goal is to share hope and see social transformation. They do<br />

this through networks in the areas of food, debt, students, and support to<br />

internationals and refugees; focussing on those who are hungry, sleeping rough,<br />

struggling with mental health needs, plus older people, and targeted family care.<br />

The networks represent both churches and Christian organisations within<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong>, and work more widely with other faith groups and local<br />

government across the city.<br />

“Our aim is for the Christian community in <strong>Southampton</strong><br />

to be visibly engaged at the heart of coordinated and<br />

effective social change in the city, and for every inhabitant<br />

to have a growing understanding of the hope and positive<br />

impact that Christians, the Church, and Jesus can bring” -<br />

<strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> Annual <strong>Report</strong> 2021/22<br />

Across the city churches have partnered<br />

together to focus and share resources. They do<br />

this through financial donations, through the<br />

use of their buildings, and through mobilising<br />

volunteers, all while responding to the needs of<br />

their communities through specific projects.<br />

While there had been existing relationships and partnerships prior to the<br />

pandemic, COVID19 was one of the drivers for increased collaboration across<br />

multiple sectors, with <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> acting as the focal point for<br />

communication between the different service providers, particularly with<br />

emergency food. In the year from March 2020 to March 2021 <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong><br />

co-ordinated with the Christian community in <strong>Southampton</strong> to distribute an<br />

estimated £2.9million worth of food and provided over 13,400 hours of<br />

volunteering through the food network (<strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong>, 2022).<br />

Two of <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong>’s critical partners in providing this support are The Big<br />

Difference, and <strong>Southampton</strong> City Mission. The Big Difference is a food<br />

redistribution project founded by Above Bar Church that, at the time of data<br />

gathering for this report, supported over eighty different partners with surplus<br />

food from supermarkets, restaurants, as well as people referred by social services<br />

and other agencies who can’t access emergency food aid sites and require food<br />

parcel delivery. <strong>Southampton</strong> City Mission, formed in 1996, has supported the<br />

community through numerous strategic initiatives that cater to the varying<br />

levels of need. <strong>Southampton</strong> City Mission and The Big Difference work well<br />

together by operating at different points in the food provision supply chain,<br />

supporting each other’s needs (i.e., supplying marketplaces with frozen produce,<br />

Page 17

and any excess ambient food being given for redistribution), filling the gaps in<br />

food aid provision, and complementing each other with their different strengths.<br />

6.2. Interventions provided through the network<br />

6.2.1. Emergency food aid<br />

Individual food parcels can be received<br />

from The Big Difference through<br />

online referral. Anyone can self-refer<br />

on the website. The food parcels<br />

contain a variety of different foods<br />

including ambient goods, cereal, pasta,<br />

sauces, cooked meats, and fresh<br />

vegetables and fruit (as well as<br />

catering for different food<br />

intolerances). As well as providing<br />

parcels for direct referrals, The Big<br />

Difference also partners with over 60<br />

projects in which they provide varying<br />

quantities and types of food according to the need of the partner project. Some<br />

of these projects distribute food parcels to their communities and some provide<br />

hot lunches and breakfasts to vulnerable people who need emergency food.<br />

Individuals come to the projects (Sunday lunch clubs, breakfast clubs,<br />

community lunch projects) and receive a hot meal while having an opportunity to<br />

connect with friends and volunteers. During the COVID19 pandemic partnerships<br />

between wider community welfare and health services took place at these<br />

locations. Access to advice from <strong>Southampton</strong> City Council, free dentistry, and<br />

signposting took place, with some of the venues becoming a vaccination hub.<br />

Emergency food and clothes can also be received through the <strong>Southampton</strong> City<br />

Mission’s Basics Bank projects. Referrals to the Basics Bank are made by over 2,000<br />

referral agents and an online electronic voucher system. The food vouchers<br />

received for referral to <strong>Southampton</strong> City Mission Basics Banks lists the number<br />

of people in the household which then allows 4 days’ worth of food per person,<br />

per household. Some of the referral agents include churches, <strong>Southampton</strong>based<br />

charities, housing associations, mental health services, Citizens Advice, a<br />

variety of NHS departments, community mental health teams, and social services.<br />

Referrals from one of these partners provides eligibility for access to food parcels<br />

and ensures that those accessing the service have need, removes potential bias<br />

from <strong>Southampton</strong> City Mission in the decision-making process, in addition to<br />

allowing a wider ‘net’ of food safety to take place across the city. This net ensures<br />

that access to <strong>Southampton</strong> City Mission’s projects is not limited to certain areas,<br />

and that individuals do not get dropped or lost in the referral process.<br />

Page 18<br />

Once a referral has been made service users are asked to collect four days’ worth<br />

of food for each person on the collection voucher. Parcels contain a mixture of<br />

ambient goods (including tins, jars, packets), plus fresh fruit and vegetables. It is<br />

emphasised that referrals to the Basics Bank are for emergency food aid due to a<br />

personal crisis such as an unforseen job loss, health issue or bereavement, rather<br />

than being a longer-term solution; although with the cost of living crisis affecting

so many people the perceptions of ‘what’ and ‘who’ constitutes an ‘emergency’<br />

are being challenged.<br />

6.2.2 Marketplaces and pantry projects<br />

Longer-term food assistance is provided hrough<br />

marketplace and pantry style projects. Whereas<br />

emergency food aid is given through referral,<br />

marketplace and pantry projects run as<br />

membership clubs with eligibility limited to<br />

geographical locations via postcodes.<br />

Members pay a £5 membership subscription<br />

each time they come which enables them to<br />

choose 15 items of food (approximately £30<br />

worth of food) from the fridge, access the<br />

partner services when they visit the<br />

marketplace, and use the community space to<br />

chat with other members and volunteers. The<br />

15 items are split into groups of fresh fruit and<br />

vegetables, bakery, ambient foods, and<br />

toiletries and are colour coded with members<br />

permitted a certain number of items from each<br />

colour group. Many of the marketplaces<br />

ensure that there are alternatives in order to<br />

accommodate people’s allergies and<br />

preferences.<br />

In providing community places such as marketplaces and pantry projects longer<br />

term aid can be given to those who are struggling, but are not yet at a crisis point.<br />

The focus goes beyond simply providing food to developing communities and<br />

providing support with wider issues such as loneliness.<br />

In response to the intersections between poverty and food insecurity and how<br />

they can create geographical locations where availability of healthy and a<br />

ffordable food is limited, Dr Megan Blake (2019) contributes an approach for<br />

combating the issues that affect communities by intentionally using food as a<br />

means to create communities where people want to live (Blake, 2019).<br />

Page 19

Blake’s <strong>Food</strong> Ladders include three rungs which depict three levels of intervention<br />

(Blake, 2019).<br />

This impact evaluation complements the <strong>Food</strong> Ladders approach and<br />

demonstrates that many of the projects supported by <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> meet<br />

the needs of Rung 1 and 2 and are starting to see the benefits of communities<br />

coming together through the marketplaces.<br />

Page 20

6.3. Cross sector partnerships and networks<br />

6.3.1 Cost of living Summits<br />

In the past six months <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> have organised and run two Cost of<br />

living Crisis Summits, bringing together representatives from organisations in the<br />

public and voluntary sector, faith groups, advice providers and <strong>Southampton</strong><br />

residents.<br />

The first summit, in partnership with <strong>Southampton</strong> City Council and hosted at<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> Solent University in October 2022, looked deeper at the issues and<br />

impact of the cost of living crisis, particularly in the areas of food insecurity and<br />

the impact on mental health, and provided a chance for organisations to get an<br />

understanding of the current needs and provision taking place. Delegates then<br />

split into facilitated group conversations seeking to collaborate and tackle specific<br />

issues, before being encouraged to make a commitment on an action they could<br />

carry forward.<br />

The summit bought together 250 delegates in a hybrid summit, with most people<br />

attending in person. The goals were to listen to what was happening in the city,<br />

and use the information shared in the keynote talks, to develop more targeted<br />

support. The summit also sought to be a catalyst for action and impactful change<br />

as delegates made commitments to actions relating to the specific questions<br />

discussed in the group sessions. Finally, in bringing together so many people from<br />

a wide variety of contexts it was a time for networking and for new connections<br />

to be made, increasing the knowledge and awareness of the different assets that<br />

exist within <strong>Southampton</strong> and opening opportunities for more partnerships.<br />

Page 21

A follow-up Cost of living Winter<br />

Conference took place online three<br />

months later. Updates were given on<br />

warm spaces, food insecurity, and<br />

the work that had been happening in<br />

the city. The Leader of the Council<br />

gave a keynote address on the city,<br />

there was an operational update on<br />

the cost of living from the Director<br />

of Public Health, and closing remarks<br />

from the Chief Executive Officer for<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong>.<br />

The intention was to maintain momentum and encourage one another with the<br />

work that had taken place since the previous summit, while sharing valuable<br />

information on how the cost of living crisis was continuing to affect <strong>Southampton</strong>.<br />

6.3.2 Faith Covenant Relaunch<br />

At the Faith Covenant Relaunch in November 2022 Faith Community Leaders and<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> City Council recognised the value and importance that faith groups<br />

bring to the city and committed to continue working together. There was great<br />

emphasis on the Covenant not being empty words or commitments, but a driver<br />

for increased impact in the city.<br />

“This mustn’t be just a nicey nicey event- we must ask ‘so<br />

what?’” - Chair of the Muslim Council, <strong>Southampton</strong><br />

It had been five years since the first covenant had been signed which<br />

demonstrated the longevity in relationships within local governments, but also<br />

recognised the need for continued collaboration addressing the needs in<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> both now and in the future.<br />

Where in the past there may have been misgivings about whether local authorities<br />

should work with faith-based groups, the very public nature of this moment was<br />

particularly poignant, acting as an encouragement to the role that faith groups<br />

have in society.<br />

Page 22<br />

“The APPG on Faith and Society is convinced that faith groups<br />

have a great deal to offer as providers and advocates for the<br />

communities in which they serve, and that some of their<br />

potential is being unnecessarily overlooked at present. To help<br />

tackle the problem, the national group drafted a Covenant which<br />

can be adopted by faith groups and local authorities in cities<br />

across the UK. We were delighted to recommit ourselves to the<br />

Faith Covenant today” - Chair of the <strong>Southampton</strong> Council of<br />


Page 23

6.3.3 Signposting & Communications<br />

<strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> acts as a communication point drawing attention to<br />

opportunities and needs in the city and services that the Christian community<br />

provides. It does this through its social media channels, newsletters, and website,<br />

using these platforms to share events, stories of hope, and generate support for<br />

specific needs that organisations may have (i.e. asking for food donations and<br />

volunteers). In doing so, <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> seeks to mobilise the community to<br />

engage with caring for the city, promote the different sources of help and support<br />

that exist and provide clear pathways through which this support can be accessed.<br />

Information and learning from key events are shared on the website alongside<br />

other resources with the aim of enabling and equipping the community to be<br />

effective in the projects that take place. Whether it be presentation slides from<br />

the summits, toolkits for food aid, or links to other resources the goal is to<br />

encourage and support effective social transformation.<br />

Furthermore, success stories of Christian impact and collaboration in the<br />

community are shared on the website and social media platforms, acting as a<br />

voice of hope in a time when negativity and bad news can seem overwhelming.<br />

These stories share inspiration and serve as motivation for people to believe and<br />

know that they are loved, that the community is cared for and that collaboration<br />

is effective. Additionally, by documenting the impact that is being made credibility<br />

is demonstrated for key stakeholders and funders.<br />

Page 24

7. Methodology<br />

Fifty two interviews were conducted of which 29 were informal group interviews<br />

with service users, and 22 were semi-structured one-to-one interviews with<br />

individuals from organisations that partner with <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong>. The informal<br />

group interviews included participants from a pantry project, breakfast provider, a<br />

council community project, three marketplaces, a Basics Bank, and three schools.<br />

The interviews with partner organisations involved members of staff from<br />

schools, church leaders, service leads and directors from local government,<br />

charity support workers, charity leaders and Hampshire County police<br />

constabulary.<br />

The interviews with service users were arranged by The Big Difference and<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> City Mission and direct contact was made with the charity leads<br />

and school representatives to arrange interviews. While invitations were sent out<br />

to all of the different partners, interviews were only arranged with those who<br />

responded. Group interviews with people in the different food venues were<br />

designed to create a safe and non-judgmental space for conversations.<br />

Participants felt more at ease discussing some of the issues and experiences they<br />

were living with alongside people they had already developed relationships with,<br />

and who were going through similar challenges. The questions and conversations<br />

focussed on the impacts of the food received, the experience of receiving the<br />

food, and any changes that this has led to in their lives. Due to the sensitivity and<br />

nature of the topics being discussed, and the interviews taking place within the<br />

venues when participants were receiving their support and taking part in<br />

activities, observation notes were taken in a field journal before being typed up<br />

and stored securely.<br />

The interviews with leaders from <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> were arranged with the aim<br />

of gathering views from a variety of partners across multiple sectors. Interviews<br />

followed the same pattern of semi-structured questions, first describing the<br />

nature of the partnerships before focussing on the factors that lead to effective<br />

collaboration, the elements that built trust, and whether any problems or issues<br />

had been encountered and overcome.<br />

Once all the notes had been typed up a<br />

two-stage analysis process took place,<br />

grouping the data first into sub-themes<br />

before combining the sub-themes into<br />

larger themes. This process involves<br />

becoming familiar with the typed-up field<br />

notes before then coding them. A coding<br />

log is kept, with references to the field<br />

notes and the codes are then grouped<br />

together into bigger themes.<br />

The data for this impact evaluation was collected between October 2022 and<br />

January 2023, and informed consent was given by all participants.<br />

Page 25

8. Results – <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong>’s outputs<br />

8.1. <strong>Food</strong> distributed in a week<br />

Working with the food aid census and the figures from The Big Difference, it is<br />

estimated that roughly 28,018 meals were provided in the week of the <strong>Food</strong> Aid<br />

Snapshot to those in need through the food projects. If each meal was valued at<br />

£4 this would mean the equivalent of £112,072 in a week.<br />

Using these statistics as an estimate, around 1.45 million meals were given to<br />

the community in a year, which would be the equivalent of £5.8 million pounds<br />

worth of food.<br />

This equates to enough meals to feed the population of <strong>Southampton</strong> 5.54 times<br />

(using the estimated resident population of <strong>Southampton</strong> in 2021 (<strong>Southampton</strong><br />

Data Observatory, 2021).<br />

During the week of 5th December to 11th of December 2022 a snapshot survey was<br />

taken of 21 different food projects who give food aid to <strong>Southampton</strong><br />

residents in the first survey of its kind.<br />

Source<br />

Meals<br />

<strong>Food</strong>banks 10,990<br />

Pantry projects & food membership clubs 5857<br />

Served food 320<br />

Community larders & communal fridges 175<br />


10,676<br />


Total 28,018<br />

Table 1 <strong>Food</strong> Aid Forum Snapshot Results (5th-11th December 2022), <strong>Southampton</strong> City Mission (Adapted to include the meals<br />

provided outside of the snapshot by The Big Difference)<br />

In that week 17,342 meals were provided through the 21 projects who responded<br />

out of a possible 35 projects (representing 60% of the food projects, although<br />

each project varies in size and output). Therefore, it can be assumed that the<br />

number of meals provided is higher than our estimate, once the data from the<br />

remaining organisations is included. Projects such as communal fridges and<br />

community larders are harder to monitor as people can come and help<br />

themselves, so the food used to stock the fridges is recorded as potential meals.<br />

In the same week, the <strong>Food</strong> Aid Snapshot reported a total of 12,319kgs of surplus<br />

food had been redistributed. The Big Difference reported that only 63.6% of the<br />

total surplus food redistributed was represented through the projects that<br />

responded to the census (7835.8kg), leaving 4484.2kgs of food that was distributed<br />

but not accounted for.<br />

Page 26<br />

Using the guidelines of 420g as the size of a average meal from WRAP, a NGO<br />

Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP, 2020) we estimate that an<br />

additional 10,676 meals were provided in that week (from the 4484.2kgs<br />

redistributed but unaccounted for).

While these estimates demonstrate the value and capacity that faith-based groups<br />

bring to their local community, the sheer level of demand for these services<br />

highlights the need for national and local governments to work alongside faith<br />

groups to provide solutions.<br />

8.2. From supplier to service user – what does it take?<br />

This next section examines the journey from sourcing surplus food from different<br />

supermarkets and retailers to putting it into the hands of the service user, and<br />

discusses the challenges and lessons learnt along the way.<br />

The food that goes into food aid provision can be sourced in four ways:<br />

1. Donations from the local community to ‘front of store’ donation boxes in,<br />

for example supermarkets and churches<br />

2. Bought from supermarkets or other wholesalers using monetary donations<br />

given to the various charities<br />

3. Collections of surplus and waste food from supermarkets, wholesalers,<br />

restaurants, and shops by charities<br />

4. Donations of goods directly to charities from the public and businesses<br />

To have an effective reach and continue providing support over the long term,<br />

charities that provide food aid must be sustainable. They need to have sustainable<br />

sources of food, reliable and skilled volunteers and manageable operating costs.<br />

<strong>Food</strong> from donation boxes<br />

and contributions directly<br />

from the community help<br />

to sustain projects in<br />

providing food support,<br />

however this is not<br />

sufficient if the<br />

organisation wants to grow<br />

and meet more of the<br />

demand in its community.<br />

Moreover, many of the<br />

project leaders reported<br />

that donations have been decreasing as more people are affected by the cost of<br />

living crisis. As a result, many projects use a combination of ways to source the<br />

food and increase the number of people that can be helped. When people who<br />

would normally give food through donation boxes are themselves being affected<br />

by inflation and rising food prices the amount of donations decreases which<br />

highlights the importance of sourcing and redistributing surplus food as The Big<br />

Difference has done. Surplus food redistribution also has wider benefits in that it<br />

reduces the amount of food that goes to waste.<br />

Money received from membership fees at marketplaces and pantry projects goes<br />

some way to contributing towards running costs, although additional funding is<br />

still needed to ensure there is enough food for all the members. If each of the<br />

15 items cost £1 there would still be a £13 deficit (and many items cost more than<br />

£1). Therefore, buying food is not a financially sustainable model for continuing to<br />

meet the needs, particularly when running costs increase (fuel for the van,<br />

heating in the warehouse, electricity for freezer units) as the reach and scale of<br />

Page 27

a food charity grows. Buying food isn’t sustainable unless there is a ready and<br />

steady income, or the food can be sourced for free.<br />

The Big Difference has managed to find a way to sustain a city-wide approach in<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> through forming its own partnerships and delivering surplus food<br />

for free. Organisations like FareShare operate on a national level and provide<br />

charities with the option to receive food either<br />

by using the paid service, or the opportunity to<br />

collect surplus food through their local<br />

supermarkets. At the time of writing, The Big<br />

Difference provides eighty charities with s<br />

urplus food for free by collecting, sorting and<br />

storing the surplus food before then<br />

redistributing it. Overall, the cost of<br />

providing such a service is a lot less than buying<br />

the equivalent volume of food (between 12-15<br />

tonnes a month) from a wholesaler or<br />

supermarket. Operating at the food<br />

redistribution level provides a means for food<br />

projects to receive free food, thus removing the<br />

cost of buying food.<br />

However, there are still costs associated with collecting, storing and distributing<br />

the food and this must be paid for by The Big Difference.<br />

8.2.1 Sourcing and supply<br />

When interviewing the Head of The Big Difference it was clear that initiative was<br />

an important skill in forming partnerships with food suppliers. He had been<br />

proactive in seeking and initiating contact with local stores to generate enough<br />

food. The Big Difference uses a rented van to collect the food and bring it back for<br />

sorting and storing before it is redistributed to the various projects. This is<br />

therefore a significant cost that needs to be covered.<br />

Once an arrangement has been made with a supplier, reliability becomes<br />

paramount. Remaining available and being consistent are important factors in<br />

maintaining the partnership so that the supplier is happy to continue distributing<br />

their surplus food through The Big Difference. This can be challenging when the<br />

quantities of food are large, the type of food is varied, and when the timing of<br />

the pickups are not scheduled routinely, but are in response to the stock levels<br />

of the store. For example, while interviewing The Head of the Big Difference for<br />

this evaluation a crate of 2,000 Actimel yoghurts had been collected. High volume<br />

collections of one type of product like this are not uncommon, and illustrate the<br />

unpredictable nature of surplus food redistribution.<br />

Calls from suppliers may occur at any point in the day, therefore The Big<br />

Difference has had to remain flexible and available to respond and collect the<br />

food. With the rising prices of fuel, driving is not only costly with regards to the<br />

time taken to go and collect pallets (with over 50 hours a week driving and loading<br />

food), but also in paying for fuel. Therefore, The Big Difference has to make a<br />

decision whether the journey is justified based on the quantity of food<br />

available, and whether they have the capacity to store the food.<br />

Page 28

Despite this, the cost of being unreliable is greater, losing not only the food in<br />

that specific delivery, but the likelihood of the supplier offering future surplus<br />

food which may have a longer term impact on the amount of parcels and food<br />

that can be redistributed as food aid.<br />

The types of items being redistributed vary from ready-meals, chocolate,<br />

different meats and vegetables, sausage rolls, soft drinks etc. While the food may<br />

satisfy hunger, not all of the food being redistributed contributes to a balanced<br />

nutritional diet, as it tends to be the stock that hasn’t been sold and is about to<br />

go out of date. Recognising the importance of healthy, nutritional food, The Big<br />

Difference are intentionally seeking partnerships with fresh produce providers to<br />

meet this need.<br />

Not all the food given can be used in food parcels or in marketplace style<br />

projects, but there is always a use for it, and it is always redistributed. An example<br />

of this can be seen when The Big Difference was given ten whole salmon. They<br />

were able to give them to community projects that provide hot meals, showing<br />

that everything can be used.<br />

In this way, The Big Difference are remaining sustainable and viable by continuing<br />

to seek out partners. With amendments in food best-by and use-by regulations<br />

affecting the quantities of surplus food that individual suppliers can give,<br />

partnerships with more suppliers will be needed to sustain and grow the level of<br />

support that is currently given.<br />

“You do what needs to be done in order to meet the needs that<br />

people have” - Head of The Big Difference<br />

8.2.2 Storage<br />

To provide so many meals, organisations must be able<br />

to sort and store the food. The food that is donated<br />

must be moved first from the van into the storage unit<br />

before being logged. It is then sorted into food groups<br />

and types to make retrieval more efficient when<br />

preparing the parcels for referrals or to give directly<br />

to the partner projects.<br />

One of the biggest constraints on The Big<br />

Difference’s food distribution is lack of storage.<br />

Currently, The Big Difference have a storage facility in<br />

Woolston which is rented at a peppercorn rent from<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> City Council and they also partnered<br />

with SCRATCH (<strong>Southampton</strong> City and Region Action<br />

to Combat Hardship) and invested £30,000 to set up<br />

and use their walk-in freezer and refrigeration units in<br />

Page 29

the Mount Pleasant industrial estate. However, this adds more time in collecting<br />

and transferring items from the freezers and makes organisation and planning<br />

more difficult. At the same time The Big Difference has grown to the point where<br />

they could support more projects if they had the space to store more food. With<br />

more storage and with freezers located onsite The Big Difference could increase<br />

the amount of food given to projects, do it more efficiently and save time, and<br />

reduce the cost of going between two locations. The increase in storage size<br />

would also result in the need for more volunteers to be trained in order to cope<br />

with the increased number of food quantities that are collected.<br />

Great attention is given to food safety standards to ensure that the food being<br />

given out is safe to eat. This is of particular importance given that the food being<br />

redistributed is often close to its expiry date. A food toolkit provided by<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> City Mission is displayed clearly in the storage facilities. <strong>Food</strong><br />

parcels are hand-packed with equal quantities of food for each of the recipients.<br />

Although this increases the amount of input with regards to volunteer hours,<br />

bags, and electricity needed in the warehouses, it ensures that people are<br />

receiving a fair service with equal amounts of food and that the food is able to<br />

feed more people when portioned.<br />

The Big Difference has been intentional in storing a reserve of food that would<br />

enable them to keep providing food if any shocks or interruptions in the supply<br />

chain were to happen. This is achieved by redistributing the fresh food (which<br />

often has a shorter expiry date) and keeping stocks of long dated food.<br />

Pre-planning in this way can mitigate the challenges of having to source the food<br />

needed for each week within the same week, but having reserves allows time to<br />

adapt and adjust without leaving partners and projects lacking supplies.<br />

It requires more than just logistics and space. The people involved are vital to<br />

the process. Both The Big Difference and <strong>Southampton</strong> City Mission have small<br />

staff teams on a mixture of full time and part time contracts and work with over<br />

180 volunteers between them. The volunteers come from communities all over<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong>, with many from churches. They drive the vans that move the food,<br />

engage in admin tasks, prepare food parcels, store and record the food, and serve<br />

and speak with clients and service users.<br />

Without the ongoing dedication and hard work of the teams the reach and impact<br />

would be greatly reduced. It is important to note also that a lot of work was put in<br />

to lay the foundations of these projects whilst they became established. Many of<br />

the projects were started by church members responding to the need who put in<br />

long hours to form the relationships and partnerships before reaching the stage<br />

where means of funding were available. One project leader shared how they had<br />

been volunteering six days a week, with only nine days of annual leave taken over<br />

a period of three years, demonstrating the passion and commitment with which<br />

volunteers serve their communities whilst highlighting the potential risks for both<br />

the charities when key people are unable to continue, in addition to the wellbeing<br />

of those volunteers.<br />

Page 30

8.2.3. Service provision<br />

Once the food is prepared it can be sent to the various partner projects.<br />

Volunteers help to set out the food and set up the venue prior to members and<br />

service users arriving. This involves stocking the fridge, preparing beverages,<br />

setting up the table and making the environment one that is warm and welcoming.<br />

For projects that provide hot meals such as GEMS, The Big Breakfast (a project by<br />

Above Bar Church providing breakfasts for up to 60 homeless people on a<br />

Thursday morning) and The Sunday Lunch Project, preparation starts even earlier<br />

with cooking the food. When people start arriving, they are welcomed, checked<br />

in and wait to be called to receive their food package or to choose their items<br />

from the marketplace.<br />

Many of the marketplaces are open throughout the day and have observed a rush<br />

of people in the morning as well as one after lunchtime, therefore volunteers<br />

make sure the fridges are stocked up in the quiet periods so that everyone<br />

attending gets the same choice no matter what time they attend.<br />

All of this requires pre-planning, sourcing of a venue, training of volunteers, and<br />

collaboration with churches to ensure that projects are run to a professional<br />

standard, and in a way that is consistent.<br />

When speaking with Duncan House, from <strong>Southampton</strong> City Mission, it was clear<br />

that partnering with and getting buy-in from local churches in their communities<br />

at the start of a project was important in providing such high-quality<br />

marketplaces. It isn’t just about using the resources, but training and equipping<br />

Christians to be active in their community.<br />

“We help churches to start projects and give them the training<br />

and knowledge to help other people. We often help churches<br />

set up and then withdraw, to work with others elsewhere.” -<br />

General Manager, <strong>Southampton</strong> City Mission<br />

Conversations had to take place with churches in the community who were<br />

interested before choosing a lead partner church to help with the logistics, as<br />

well as help pool volunteers. It is<br />

this partnership with local<br />

churches that allows each of the<br />

marketplaces to be relevant in<br />

responding to the needs in their<br />

communities. An example of this<br />

was given when <strong>Southampton</strong> City<br />

Mission identified the need for<br />

a baby equipment bank. Having<br />

identified the need they invited<br />

one of the local churches to set<br />

one up and gave them the support<br />

to do this.<br />

Page 31

In addition to the training provided on policies and procedures, fridges must be<br />

purchased, and venues made fit for purpose with a carpenter building<br />

suitable display and storage units. This can cost up to £9,000 per marketplace.<br />

When the venue and volunteers are prepared a soft launch takes place with a<br />

few initial members, setting the culture of the marketplace before opening fully<br />

to members. The General Manager of <strong>Southampton</strong> City Mission emphasised the<br />

vision to see marketplaces become community hubs. This involves setting the<br />

culture and demonstrating that people can take their time and not rush, helping<br />

to welcome people and provide safe and encouraging environments that bring<br />

members together.<br />

The process by which marketplaces are set up illustrates the preparation and<br />

processes needed in service provision before clients and members can make use<br />

of the facilities. Whether it be setting up storage, training staff, understanding the<br />

needs of a community before choosing to act; the principles remain the same,<br />

and the outputs do not happen by accident but by careful planning and<br />

implementation.<br />

Once projects are up and running there are ongoing costs in continuing to provide<br />

the services. Charities and churches are also experiencing the same challenges<br />

with the cost of living crisis that led to many of the clients and members needing<br />

to use the service in the first place. Especially during the cold winter weather,<br />

churches and venues need to ensure that the space is warm for their clients.<br />

“We have a small congregation which makes it tougher to pay<br />

the electricity bill. But we can’t stop now. Providing this space<br />

for the community is one of our non-negotiables. We’re<br />

switching the heating on” - Church Leader in Townhill Park<br />

While there are grants available, they<br />

are often for restricted purposes,<br />

rather than long-term solutions, i.e.<br />

if the venue registers as a warm space<br />

and meets certain criteria.<br />

Additionally, local authorities are<br />

also stretched in their budget and so<br />

organisations cannot rely on them as a<br />

long-term solution. Therefore,<br />

donations from churches are<br />

important to help cover the costs that<br />

are associated with delivering food,<br />

keeping it refrigerated, and<br />

providing a warm space.<br />

Page 32

9. Results - Impact of food aid on service<br />

users<br />

9.1. Access to food /emergency food aid<br />

The benefits of receiving food shared<br />

in the interviews differed depending on<br />

the type of food support the<br />

participants were receiving. For those<br />

who were receiving emergency<br />

parcels from a Basics Bank or cooked<br />

meals such as a breakfast or lunch, this<br />

was often the first meal that had been<br />

received in days.<br />

“It means I can eat. Currently I have one can of soup, a jar of<br />

jam and a couple of potatoes in my cupboard” - a client at a<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> City Mission Basics Bank in Bitterne<br />

Equally, for those who were receiving food parcels due to a personal emergency<br />

the food meant the difference between eating or having to go hungry. Having<br />

interviewed people who were receiving this kind of aid the causes and drivers for<br />

their need were more drastic. For instance, one person at the food bank told of<br />

how her husband had passed away suddenly. Due to being the primary carer for<br />

her autistic son, she was unable to work and therefore needed the food supply<br />

while waiting to find further provision. Another gentleman had suffered a stroke<br />

the year before and had not been able to work while he was recovering physically,<br />

and he was still struggling to find a new job.<br />

Many people mentioned how due to a change in their housing situation or<br />

employment the timing of receiving or having their benefits updated meant that<br />

they were not able to put down a deposit for rental housing or weren’t able to<br />

stretch their previous payment to last two months. Others were waiting for<br />

delayed payments to come through which meant that they couldn’t buy food.<br />

“It will help until I get paid. At the moment I have nothing” - A<br />

client at The Big Breakfast<br />

The meals and food given out at such projects tended to be ambient, long-life tins<br />

and packets, or cooked food, or items that don’t need to be refrigerated or frozen.<br />

This is because some of the service users didn’t have access to cooking equipment<br />

or somewhere to cook a meal.<br />

Page 33

Those who accessed food at marketplaces or pantry style projects were able to<br />

contribute and the need may not have been at a crisis point, but they were<br />

struggling to make ends meet. Often people accessing the marketplaces were<br />

working or receiving benefits as carers and were struggling to make their income<br />

cover their expenditure. When speaking to these people they commented that<br />

the food would help them to eat for a few days, and allow the savings to act as a<br />

resource to supplement their next food shop. Receiving the food aid meant that<br />

they would have meals that lasted and would be able to eat throughout the week,<br />

rather than miss meals or go without. Many interviewees noted the value for<br />

money of the items that they had received.<br />

There were varied views on how long<br />

the food from marketplaces received<br />

would last, with individuals, couples<br />

and smaller families tending to say<br />

the food would last a week, and<br />

larger families saying that the food<br />

would only last a few days. Households<br />

receiving parcels from a Basics<br />

Bank have the number of people<br />

needing food on the voucher, and the<br />

amount of food is given accordingly.<br />

<strong>Food</strong> membership clubs differ in that<br />

respect with individuals all paying the<br />

same membership fee, recognising that marketplaces tend to meet the needs of<br />

families who need their food shop supplemented.<br />

One option is for existing members to pay more, or to introduce double<br />

memberships in order to represent their household size. It was said by<br />

marketplace providers that given the reports on quantities of food donations<br />

decreasing, an equal amount must be given in order to sustain the membership<br />

numbers (highlighting the community element of marketplaces). Marketplaces<br />

face the challenge of ensuring there is enough choice of food for all the<br />

members. Acting as membership clubs with limited numbers of spaces allows<br />

for planning and stocking to meet the needs of those members compared to<br />

Basics Banks or other emergency food aid providers which have inconsistent and<br />

differing numbers of referrals throughout the year. While having membership<br />

is a strength in that it helps form community as relationships develop amongst<br />

the same people and allows for demand to be controlled and met; the benefits<br />

are limited to a few in the community. With three of the current marketplaces in<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> having been opened within the last 12 months the focus has been<br />

on establishing relationships and culture with its existing members. Therefore,<br />

there is time for leaders to plan and prepare for the next stages of growth within<br />

marketplaces once communities have been formed.<br />

Marketplaces have memberships that are offered via postcode restriction. While<br />

this helps to focus aid to the needs of a community and geographical area it also<br />

limits those being able to access the help and receive the benefits. One of the<br />

reflections from a service user at Saint Mary’s Marketplace was on how she<br />

wished there was a marketplace in her sister’s community so that her sister could<br />

also benefit, as she said her sister no longer had access to emergency food aid.<br />

Page 34

9.2. Schools and children – learning and behaviour<br />

Some of the people facing the biggest struggle with the increased cost of living<br />

are families and children. Many families and children have benefited from the<br />

food received from marketplaces and food banks; however, food aid was also<br />

given directly to schools. This section shares the findings from three primary and<br />

junior schools about the impact of the food that they received.<br />

From single parents to larger families (one school<br />

said they had multiple families with 10 or more<br />

children), schools can support families and<br />

parents of varying sizes and different needs with<br />

the food received from The Big Difference. Some<br />

are struggling with chronic health problems and<br />

some children have the foodbank added to their<br />

child protection plans, with an increasing<br />

number of parents struggling to pay the bills due<br />

to delays in their benefits and the impact of the<br />

cost of living crisis.<br />

Support is given through a combination of food<br />

parcels in three of the schools, and a foodbank<br />

that is run fortnightly and is used by about 70<br />

families. If there is fresh fruit left over after<br />

filling the food parcels it is given to children at break time.<br />

Each of the schools noted an increase in the number of parents needing food aid<br />

or asking for help and signposting to other services. One Headteacher noted that<br />

they wished they could ask for more from The Big Difference, but they recognised<br />

that there were probably limits to what could be given. Another school<br />

representative reflected that the number of bags given out had already doubled<br />

since they first started working with The Big Difference.<br />

“They are just lovely professional people. We’re giving nothing<br />

back in return for this. One family couldn’t believe that they<br />

could come and take the food without having to pay” - Family<br />

Liaison Officer for a local junior school<br />

Across all three of the schools, staff members brought up not only that the food<br />

given would allow children to eat, but how the difference in food quality would<br />

have an impact on the behaviour of children, and their ability to learn within the<br />

classrooms. One interviewee explained how when they had first started at the<br />

school, they could see the effect on behaviour when children were having energy<br />

drinks and sugary foods for breakfast. It led to hyperactive behaviour combined<br />

with the inability to regulate emotions, having an effect on learning which would<br />

result in longer term difficulties in employment. Therefore, by working with<br />

parents and with The Big Difference they could see the positive impact of healthy<br />

nutrition that the food received would have on the education of the children.<br />

Page 35

“There were these sacks. I remember these massive sacks of<br />

food. I just knew that it would show families that they do<br />

matter, and that they can make a difference” - Headteacher of<br />

a local primary school<br />

Another staff member commented that without some of the food received pupils<br />

would not have the energy to give themselves meaningfully to lessons. These<br />

examples demonstrate the importance of a balanced and nutritious diet in the<br />

formation and development of young children in particular, and further embeds<br />

the importance of being strategic in sourcing fresh, healthy, food as The Big<br />

Difference is doing.<br />

One of the schools explained how they were able to give a food package to a new<br />

mother in the school who had recently moved due to domestic violence in the<br />

home. She described it as a lifeline. Another family were having trouble accessing<br />

their benefits, but were able to ask for food and receive help, and were then able<br />

to feed themselves.<br />

“Originally there was a little bit of resistance from staff and<br />

some parents in the school that they even needed a foodbank<br />

but then when we saw the need and the children benefiting<br />

from it they were able to see the impact that it had” - Teacher<br />

from a local primary school<br />

At first some of the parents struggled with the stigma of needing to use a<br />

foodbank, as demonstrated by one parent anonymously making the school aware<br />

of a family that had not eaten for three days via text message. However, some of<br />

the stigma seems to have gone away, with some children enjoying being able to<br />

choose the food from the foodbank. Perceptions of the types of people and<br />

communities who suffer from food insecurity are being shifted slowly as the cost<br />

of living crisis impacts people on benefits and people who are working too.<br />

Despite the crisis impacting the nation, the example above demonstrates that on<br />

an individual level people may still feel uncomfortable asking for help. To reach<br />

these people who are suffering in silence, continued work should be done to<br />

make the help available widely known, as well working to destigmatise the act of<br />

asking for help.<br />

When staff members and leaders of schools describe the negative impacts of<br />

poor diets on their pupils’ learning and emotional development it is clear that the<br />

effects of not having healthy food will impact these children well into their adult<br />

lives. This in turn could have wider implications for communities and society<br />

regarding employment and crime rates. Therefore, it is critical for research to<br />

continue into the impact in the lives of children, and for schools, charities and<br />

local governments to partner together in supporting parents and families.<br />

Page 36

9.3. Mental health and wellbeing through agency and<br />

choice<br />

One of the secondary benefits that came through consistently in the interviews<br />

with service users are the mental health benefits associated with agency and<br />

choice. When there isn’t enough money to pay for food, an individual’s options are<br />

limited and the lack of control and agency can cause serious mental health<br />

problems. These feelings of dependency and reliance not only on others for help,<br />

but accessing it in a restricted way contributes to these feelings of lack of control.<br />

In contrast, being able to choose food items had positive benefits for members’<br />

mental health.<br />

This was particularly prevalent in the interviews with members of marketplaces.<br />

Being able to contribute £5 gives a sense of dignity, value, and ownership, and<br />

reduces feelings of indebtedness and being a burden on society.<br />

“When you have a routine, you can plan your life and you feel<br />

more in control of your life” - A member at<br />

Saint Mary’s Marketplace<br />

Having the ability to choose the 15 items rather than being given a pre-packaged<br />

food parcel encourages this sense of agency and choice, contributing to feelings<br />

of control in the lives of those accessing the service, and alleviating feelings of<br />

helplessness. Being able to choose what food was given meant that users felt they<br />

could cook meals. This came across strongly with members from minority ethnic<br />

groups for whom being able to prepare and cook foods was strongly connected<br />

with their culture and identity. For those with other people dependent on them<br />

within their household (such as children, family members with additional needs,<br />

or elderly parents) access to the marketplace meant that feelings of failure and<br />

pressure were reduced, and joy was expressed at being able to provide for those<br />

in their care.<br />

Yet it was not just having the ability to choose items of food within the<br />

marketplace that had an impact on wellbeing, in numerous interviews service<br />

users spoke of how they had adapted and created new routines, planning in their<br />

visits to the marketplace, planning how they would supplement their shop with<br />

the food they were going to receive, and plan the meals that they were going to<br />

make. They said that this had a positive influence on their mental wellbeing in the<br />

week, knowing that they would have enough, and knowing that they could plan<br />

their life accordingly.<br />

“I can come here and rest knowing I’ll be able to get through<br />

the next week. Knowing that it’s here puts my mind at ease” -<br />

A Marketplace member in Townhill Park<br />

Page 37

These reduced feelings of worry and concern led to members noticing the<br />

positive impact in the relationships in their lives. By having a routine and knowing<br />

when they were going to get food led to less worry, less stress, with some<br />

interviewees commenting that they had experienced fewer arguments within<br />

their household due to the reduced stress and fear of not knowing where and<br />

when they would be able to get food.<br />

Accessing food aid meant that not only did members have the ability to have<br />

agency over their routines and meals, but also were able to have greater freedom<br />

regarding their wider finances and avoid making financial ‘trade offs’. Some of the<br />

‘trade offs’ included parents having to decide between them or their children<br />

eating, having the heating on or having food, having one less meal in order to pay<br />

the fuel to get to work. Having to make these choices leads to poor outcomes<br />

whichever choice is made, but also contributed to anxiety through the decision<br />

making process itself. Accessing the food at marketplaces reduced some of the<br />

‘trade offs’ that had to be made, as paying the membership fee enabled them to<br />

be able to have food as well as choose the other option, and consequently<br />

reduced some of the strain on some of the members’ mental health.<br />

“Coming here means that I can feed me and my children.<br />

Before, I would go hungry so that my children could eat” -<br />

A parent and member at Millbrook Marketplace<br />

This evaluation took place in the months leading up to Christmas, and many<br />

parents commented about the worry and fear of not being able to provide a<br />

Christmas meal or presents for their children. Each year the coldest months<br />

combine with the extra seasonal expenditure to create a period of heightened<br />

stress and difficulty for many households in the UK. This year would not have<br />

been an exception, but was made more difficult with the effects of inflation<br />

leaving families with less disposable income to spend on heating or presents and<br />

extra food during the festive time. Some of the marketplaces and school<br />

partnerships had been intentional in preparing items and gifts through the<br />

Christmas period. Receiving these items in addition to the food meant that some<br />

members were able to purchase gifts for their families. One mother even said<br />

that she had allowed herself a treat when she wouldn’t normally be able to. Her<br />

treat was a packet of chocolate digestive biscuits.<br />

“You’re worried as a parent, so it helps with mental health;<br />

especially when you don’t want to feel like a failure to your<br />

children” - A member at Marketplace in Townhill Park<br />

Page 38<br />

In summary, having access to venues that run regularly and that empower<br />

members with an element of choice can contribute to increased feelings of<br />

agency and control which, in turn, alleviates the negative impacts on mental<br />

health. Knowing when and where food will be available can contribute to

positive mental health as members are able to have a sense of control over their<br />

lives through planning and creating a routine. Accessing food and support in this<br />

way can give greater freedom in decision making by minimising the need to make<br />

terrible ‘trade offs’ and reducing anxiety and stress.<br />

Careful attention should continue to be given to the way in which interventions<br />

and projects are designed, with a focus on how the process itself can empower<br />

and positively affect people’s wellbeing in what are already difficult and<br />

challenging times in their life.<br />

9.4. Mental health and wellbeing through<br />

social connection<br />

Another impact experienced across the Basics Banks, hot meal centres, and<br />

marketplaces was the sense of social connection that came through the<br />

development of relationships that had a positive impact on peoples’ mental<br />

health and wellbeing.<br />

Some shared how they experience isolation<br />

and loneliness because they had few social<br />

interactions with friends, family, or work<br />

colleagues. Others experienced greater social<br />

interaction but had the same feelings of<br />

loneliness and isolation due to interacting with<br />

people who did not understand or empathise<br />

with their situation and so they didn’t feel able<br />

to share their problems because they feared<br />

they would be judged. The spaces created<br />

through the different food projects were<br />

deliberately designed to encourage<br />

interactions and connection without feelings<br />

of judgement and shame, as many people in<br />

the space were experiencing similar challenges<br />

and problems.<br />

For those coming for emergency food aid this<br />

was an additional benefit to the food parcels<br />

they received, and some members who attended marketplaces mentioned how<br />

they would still come to the venue even though they did not always need food.<br />

Volunteers from across many marketplaces commented that they were also<br />

noticing people staying for longer durations of time after having collected their<br />

food. This was made possible due to the welcoming and inviting spaces created in<br />

each of the venues. The spaces provided somewhere to sit with a<br />

complimentary drink and snack while waiting to be called to collect food, with<br />

many venues having games available too.<br />

“I come so that I feel able to be heard and to speak to people” -<br />

An Oasis Marketplace member<br />

Page 39

In almost every interview members and service users gave glowing accounts of<br />

building friendships with some of the volunteers as well as other members. Many<br />

people spoke of how they cherished and looked forward to coming and<br />

connecting with each other, being able to stay in the venues to get to know each<br />

other and share their struggles.<br />

“When I first came, I felt quite low, but they make you feel very<br />

well” - A member at the Millbrook Marketplace<br />

One of the enablers of these relationships was the sense of equality and<br />

freedom from judgement that the members experienced. They shared how they<br />

felt able to speak and share with other people in similar situations to themselves<br />

without feeling judged or rushed, as well as with the volunteers, with many<br />

commenting that they could tell that the volunteers providing the services cared.<br />

Even when some of the members wanted to simply get their packages and go,<br />

volunteers were respectful of this and didn’t pressure anyone.<br />

“There is a friendly atmosphere, I feel that we’re all on the<br />

same level” – A member at Saint Mary’s Marketplace<br />

Interestingly, on more than one occasion an interviewee said that they felt more<br />

comfortable making relationships and meeting people in the marketplaces<br />

because they would feel ashamed to have people visit their home. People can<br />

feel isolated as they aren’t able to engage in what are commonly enjoyed social<br />

activities such as eating out or going to the cinema, activities that often require<br />

disposable income. The space at the marketplaces provided a neutral ground free<br />

of feelings of shame and the worry of being judged. Furthermore, it was the only<br />

place where this could happen without having to pay for a meal, activity or<br />

beverage, as going to a coffee shop or restaurant to meet friends was not<br />

possible with an increasingly stretched disposable income. One of the<br />

volunteers at a marketplace shared the time where a couple had come to the<br />

marketplace for their date.<br />

It is important to note however, that there were instances where recipients and<br />

members wanted to take their food and leave without staying to spend time in<br />

the venue. According to the people who mentioned this, they either had other<br />

appointments such as the school run or work to get to, or were people who had<br />

spouses, families, and support networks in their home or through work. This was<br />

also more prevalent in the marketplaces that had just been set up and had only<br />

been running for a few months. Relationships had yet to be formed, and trust yet<br />

to be developed; highlighting the temporal aspect in seeing cultural change in the<br />

community and addressing feelings of uneasiness and shame regarding poverty<br />

and financial insecurity.<br />

Page 40

Marketplaces and similar style projects create valuable places for people to come<br />

together and build relationships as well as receive food aid. Many people feel<br />

isolated due to the lack of social interactions and engagements with their friends,<br />

family, or work colleagues. Different support streams often offer services that are<br />

purely transactional in the sense that an individual gets referred, receives their<br />

support, and then continues on (some systems are online and avoid human<br />

interaction entirely). However, the community spaces created through<br />

marketplaces and similar projects provide the opportunity for support,<br />

relationships to be formed, and to be heard without judgement or shame.<br />

Projects and initiatives that bring the community together and seek to form<br />

relationships concurrently with addressing local problems will have an impact<br />

beyond just meeting the presenting need of an individual. There is a need for<br />

increased community spaces like these, particularly for locations and areas with<br />

hard to reach and vulnerable people groups. Additional attention should be paid<br />

to creating solutions for people who may be housebound or unable to physically<br />

attend a project and who are likely to be experiencing higher levels of isolation as<br />

a result.<br />

9.5. Signposting and understanding people’s problems<br />

holistically<br />

Frequently members mentioned that they found positive benefits from coming to<br />

marketplaces, not only due to the food received, but to the additional<br />

information and support that they could gain through signposting. This support<br />

ranged from leaflets and information in the venue itself, to other organisations<br />

coming in to offer services such as So:Linked and social prescribers.<br />

An example of this was seen where<br />

a member of the <strong>Southampton</strong> City<br />

Mission Marketplace had mentioned<br />

that due to not having full meals<br />

she had lost weight, meaning that<br />

her clothes no longer fitted her. A<br />

volunteer was able to refer her to<br />

the Basics Clothes Bank and she<br />

was able to get some replacement<br />

clothes that same day.<br />

The signposting varied amongst the<br />

different venues according to the<br />

needs, from community events that the churches had organised (particularly at<br />

Christmas), to different NHS services, dentists, debt advice, leaflets for language<br />

courses, or providing information on benefits.<br />

“I was able to apply for free school meals, and I didn’t even<br />

know about it” – A member at one of <strong>Southampton</strong> City<br />

Mission Marketplaces<br />

Page 41

One of the members of Townhill Park Marketplace spoke of the support and<br />

information that she had received in helping to complete school applications for<br />

her children. There were even talks in the volunteer meeting before the<br />

marketplace opened on re-using some old iPads that had been donated to set up<br />

opportunities for mothers in the community to help with applications for schools<br />

and benefits.<br />

Signposting at projects provides a way of having longer term impact by providing<br />

information and connection points for additional support to other issues and<br />

challenges. Accessing this support can reduce stress and considerably help the<br />

members in a more holistic way. Therefore, organisations and charities should<br />

seek to understand the needs of their communities and the wider challenges that<br />

they experience, as well as have a good awareness of the different projects and<br />

support that exist in order to have relevant signposting.<br />

“For people who don’t know what to do and where to go, these<br />

places are like lighthouses putting you in touch with the right<br />

people so that you can adapt” – The Big Breakfast<br />

Page 42

10. Results – How are effective partnerships<br />

built?<br />

10.1. Reliability and credibility<br />

The most mentioned theme when speaking to different partners, whether<br />

charities or government department leaders, was <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong>’s credibility<br />

and reliability. There had been reliability and consistency in delivering the<br />

outputs and services that had been agreed to, but also in being present at<br />

different meetings and responding to the different calls and being available.<br />

“<strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> are a robust, reliable, alliance of ‘doers’” -<br />

Head of Stronger Communities, <strong>Southampton</strong> City Council<br />

Many of the projects have been running for years demonstrating a faithful<br />

commitment to providing care for the city and the key role of the Christian<br />

community in solving local problems. The projects extend further than just food,<br />

with CLEAR (City Life Education and Action for Refugees) supporting people<br />

seeking asylum for over 20 years, and <strong>Southampton</strong> Street Pastors having a<br />

positive impact on <strong>Southampton</strong>’s night-time economy since 2009.<br />

Trust was built over time because Christian communities and projects followed<br />

through and acted on what they said they would do. Having proven that they<br />

would do what they said, they were trusted to continue with further projects.<br />

This proved valuable to partnering together as it provided a solid foundation from<br />

which to continue building and collaborating.<br />

“If there was another national emergency, we’d call <strong>Love</strong><br />

<strong>Southampton</strong>” – Head of Stronger Communities,<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> City Council<br />

The years of service and dedication by <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong>, the churches, and the<br />

projects they represent meant that they could be trusted to achieve the solutions<br />

and projects that they proposed. In contrast, The Commissioning and Contracts<br />

Manager, Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire shared how<br />

a partnership with a charity had been unsuccessful due to them not being able to<br />

carry out the work that they said they would.<br />

Page 43

“Sometimes organisations can get a little bit caught up in big<br />

strategies, big ideas. Whereas I think what [<strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong>]<br />

Paul and the team have managed to do is think about practical<br />

ways to take a step at a time and actually end up going quite a<br />

long way to achieve something quite, quite, amazing” -<br />

Executive Director for Communities Culture and Homes,<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> City Council<br />

However, it wasn’t just through the provision of ‘services as normal’ that<br />

reliability was built. Many of the interviewees mentioned occasions where they<br />

needed additional or different provisions to meet emergency or more specific<br />

needs, reporting that if ever there was another situation where they needed help,<br />

they would call <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> first.<br />

One of the council staff noted the positive impact of having regular faces and<br />

organisations continuing to provide value within the community, when council<br />

leaders were likely to change, and without the faith-based organisations working<br />

consistently over the long term the community would experience discontinuous<br />

support. This not only has an impact on building relationships on an<br />

organisational level, but also has an impact on relationships and expectations at<br />

the community level, where expectations and hope can be damaged when<br />

promised projects and help don’t materialise or are unable to continue.<br />

Credibility was gained not only by the years of service, but with the existing<br />

infrastructure and high standards of accountability. This can be seen through<br />

safeguarding, GDPR and DBS checks existing within the churches and<br />

organisations already, and with compliance with regulations and data sharing. It<br />

also adds weight to the advice and recommendations at different forums.<br />

Examples of this can be seen when representatives from faith-based organisations<br />

are asked to contribute to different forums including the street homeless<br />

prevention teams, regular safer communities meetings and Covid response<br />

teams.<br />

“Longevity and relationships have built up through sharing of<br />

information and data, which helps to form a great picture of<br />

the community and plan for more impactful responses” - City<br />

Centre Police Inspector<br />

Being present and consistent over time helps to build trust and credibility<br />

which in turn, increases the partnership potential and the way in which<br />

organisations are sought out to help collaborate on solutions. Whether it be at<br />

individual meetings, responding to emails, or working on projects together,<br />

reliability is built across all these areas.<br />

Page 44

10.2. Agility<br />

One of the contributors to effective partnerships leading to meaningful impact in<br />

the community was the agility and flexibility with which <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> and<br />

many faith-based organisations operate; allowing care and provision to meet the<br />

needs of their communities more efficiently and quickly. They are agile in the way<br />

that they can respond rapidly to issues and circumstances without being<br />

constrained by bureaucracy or rigid structures or processes.<br />

“Anything takes a lot of time to mobilise in a local authority, so<br />

that’s one of the big advantages of faith groups, they can just<br />

do it seemingly overnight and make it happen” - Head of<br />

Stronger Communities,<strong>Southampton</strong> City Council<br />

Charities and organisations such as The Big Difference, <strong>Southampton</strong> City Mission<br />

and <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> have their resources dedicated to a specific cause allowing<br />

them greater freedom to leverage and use their resources in this area. One of the<br />

standout findings was how church leaders used this freedom proactively in taking<br />

opportunities to be bold in responding to needs as they present themselves.<br />

“It’s about being bold and taking opportunities” - Homeless<br />

Lead, City Life Church<br />

One of the challenges arising from both a church leader’s perspective, and that of<br />

the council is the many priorities that are pressing and the many roles that they<br />

play. Multiple priorities can be a limitation when seeking to invest resources with<br />

churches recognising a commitment to their congregations and weekly activities.<br />

Local authorities have long procurement procedures before resources can be<br />

allocated and infrastructure created. Faith-based groups have the ability to<br />

respond quickly to the needs of their communities without these procurement<br />

processes, thus highlighting the benefit of being able to work alongside<br />

faith-based organisations with the agility to do something proactively and rapidly.<br />

10.3. Knowing and being part of the community<br />

Knowing and being present in the community has led to many effective<br />

partnerships and this has enabled organisations to collaborate, leading to a<br />

deeper understanding of needs in the various communities and a more holistic<br />

approach to meeting those needs. The interviews with church leaders, and the<br />

leaders of faith organisations each highlighted the importance of listening to the<br />

needs of their communities before acting.<br />

Page 45

“We try to make sure that we understand our community by<br />

always including participants to check whether something<br />

would be beneficial or not” - Saints in the City Lead, Saint<br />

Mary’s Church<br />

Understanding the needs of the community can be attributed to the<br />

relationships and communication that volunteers have with the members and<br />

services that are required, and can be seen by the different types of signposting<br />

in each of the different marketplaces. Some of the marketplaces had specific set<br />

ups for parents to help with schools, while others had signposting for language<br />

classes to help with community integration.<br />

“What I see <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> doing is building on the next<br />

thing for the city and listening to the city. There’s a listening<br />

and talking to people and getting feedback on ideas” – Service<br />

Lead Housing Needs and Welfare, <strong>Southampton</strong> City Council<br />

Many of the volunteers spoke of occasions where they recognised members in<br />

the community outside of the operating hours of the service provision, as they<br />

themselves were part of the community in which they were volunteering.<br />

Another area where knowledge of the community was identified was in data and<br />

information sharing with other service providers. This came in the form of<br />

identifying potentially vulnerable people and referring them. An example of this<br />

was given in one of the school interviews; when prioritising who would receive<br />

the limited food aid the school were able to talk with local community leaders,<br />

including the church, to understand some of the pressing needs.<br />

In many of the interviews it was said that the local authority could trust what the<br />

faith groups and charities were saying because they were so active in the<br />

communities in which they are situated.<br />

” If you’ve got something you’re not quite sure about and you<br />

just want…. They seem to know people, know someone, or<br />

something to go.” - Leader of a community project<br />

Furthermore, there was knowledge sharing between organisations who helped<br />

each other by sharing information on other assets within the community. One<br />

teacher from a school shared how Dr Sanjay Mall from The Big Difference was<br />

able to help them source a fridge to help store and provide food to families in the<br />

school.<br />

Page 46

Knowledge sharing is mutually beneficial for all parties in collaboration. Local<br />

authorities can utilise the position of faith-based groups in their communities to<br />

access and understand some of the hard to reach people groups, while<br />

faith-based groups can leverage the wider reaching knowledge and platform that<br />

the local authority has.<br />

10.4. Honesty and authenticity<br />

Honesty, humility, and authenticity were some of the words that came from the<br />

interviews as qualities which helped to develop trust in partnerships.<br />

Particularly when working across organisations with different political and<br />

religious views, being honest about motives and uniting around the shared cause is<br />

what helped to develop the relationships further.<br />

“The faith side of it is you know you can trust people that work<br />

as volunteers because you know they have a passion to help<br />

people, and sometimes people aren’t used to that in this day<br />

and age” - Service Lead Housing Needs & Welfare,<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> City Council<br />

Motives were especially important with regards to faith groups working in the city,<br />

particularly when there can sometimes be the perception of faith groups’ primary<br />

focus being to proselytise. However, the name ‘<strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong>’ demonstrates<br />

clearly the intent of the organisation which is to show love to the city. Although<br />

rooted in the Christian Faith, <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> know they’re not the only people<br />

to love the city, and they work with others committed to the good of the city. <strong>Love</strong><br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> and the organisations it represents do not discriminate, they do not<br />

choose who they practically demonstrate this love and care to. They do not shy<br />

away from who they are, and their faith being the driver of the action. However, at<br />

no point is a response or reaction required in order for people to access the<br />

services and food provided.<br />

Instead, faith groups are increasingly being recognised as being a wealth of<br />

benefit and social value within their communities. This is recognised<br />

nationally (the Faith New Deal grant being one such example), as well as locally<br />

within <strong>Southampton</strong>.<br />

“I haven’t found it to be a blocker, but found working with faith<br />

groups to be a positive. The broader the support the more<br />

likely you are to hit where people’s hearts really are”<br />

– Strategic Lead, Violence Reduction Unit (VRU),<br />

Commissioning and Contracts Manager, Office of the Police and<br />

Crime Commissioner for Hampshire<br />

Page 47

Motives were particularly important with regards to the nature of the partnership<br />

and relationship. Did either of the other organisations want to leverage resources<br />

from the other? Or as in the case of <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong>, how could partnerships<br />

be developed and care be demonstrated through the existing resources?<br />

Authenticity of the cause was shown in the way that leaders turned up to attend<br />

wider meetings and demonstrated care and concern with what was happening<br />

across the city, rather than just their own organisation. Many times, the<br />

interviewees mentioned how <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> were “there to give and not just<br />

get”. This can be seen through the sharing of knowledge and resources in order to<br />

aid others in helping their communities.<br />

“There was no competition. There was no one-upmanship.<br />

There was no seeking aggrandisement. There was just ‘who’s<br />

got a problem?’ and how can we find a solution?” - Executive<br />

Director for Communities Culture and Homes, <strong>Southampton</strong><br />

City Council<br />

Another trait that led to effective collaboration was humility; humility in<br />

recognising each of the different strengths and areas of expertise that other<br />

organisations within <strong>Southampton</strong> have and allowing space for collaboration with<br />

each of these organisations. This could be seen at the first Cost of living Summit<br />

in October 2022 where a variety of different speakers from many areas of the city<br />

shared and learned from one another. It can be seen in the meetings between<br />

organisations when devising and working on plans together to ensure their<br />

feasibility within the community. As with any collaboration there has been room<br />

for plans to change and be worked upon, which can only happen when there is<br />

humility amongst those who are collaborating.<br />

“When people have pride, they don’t partner with what is going<br />

on, and they don’t know or listen to their communities” Senior<br />

Health Practitioner, <strong>Southampton</strong> City Council<br />

There is a need for understanding the role of specialist care providers, as well as<br />

the need for community-based organisations. The specialist support can aid<br />

individuals with specific needs and can help provide data on the community to<br />

help focus responses to the people and areas that are most vulnerable, however<br />

the importance of individuals being embedded in the community enables more<br />

holistic support.<br />

Page 48<br />

“We build trust by slotting alongside city wide processes,<br />

knowing where we fit in, filling any gaps and recognising the<br />

need for both the church and the specialised services”<br />

- Homelessness Leader, City Life Church

10.5. Personal Relationships<br />

In four of the six interviews from different departments at <strong>Southampton</strong> City<br />

Council personal relationships were a contributing factor to facilitate trust and<br />

collaboration. Knowing the <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> team and key members of its<br />

partner organisations aided collaboration as it made it easier to know who to<br />

contact. But even more so, the way in which the leaders went about providing<br />

help was key and made partnerships work more effectively.<br />

“The people are really important. It’s the personality of the<br />

person that makes or breaks the partnership. The trust, the<br />

fun too” - Strategic Lead - Violence Reduction Unit (VRU),<br />

Commissioning and Contracts Manager, Office of the Police<br />

and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire<br />

Interviewees consistently commented on the joyful and positive way in which<br />

volunteers were offering the service. Having a friendly face and being a regular<br />

point of contact enabled relationships to grow. On more than one occasion an<br />

interviewee recalled how they felt encouraged and supported personally, and<br />

they were not just seen as a conduit through which a product or service was<br />

given.<br />

“The way in which the food is given carries so much joy” -<br />

Headteacher of a local primary school<br />

The encouragement and hope were not just shared at the service user level, but<br />

also through the partnerships and collaborations, having a positive benefit in<br />

trust being built and long-term relationships maintained. Even after specific<br />

conferences and projects may have ended, relationships continued which acted<br />

as a natural foundation on which to continue further work.<br />

“[<strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong>] Paul and I meet for a catch up every<br />

couple of months or so just to hear about what’s going on,<br />

what the problems are” - Executive Director for Communities<br />

Culture and Homes, <strong>Southampton</strong> City Council<br />

It makes solving problems more effective when that person is easy to work with,<br />

and isn’t just there to blame, but to provide solutions and problems for their role<br />

and also personally. With such challenging and complex problems in the<br />

community it can be easy to assign blame and responsibility and then stand back.<br />

Page 49

However, being able to respond with encouragement to those who have the<br />

difficult choice of making decisions and be proactive with what resources are<br />

available means that even in difficult times individuals and communities can be<br />

helped.<br />

“On a personal level, friendships have developed, and this<br />

helps us to know we have allies and know that there is care for<br />

the city” - Head of Stronger Communities, <strong>Southampton</strong> City<br />

Council<br />

It is important to note however, that while there are clearly strengths from having<br />

personal relationships, there is a risk that too much depends on certain<br />

individuals. Should that individual no longer be able to provide the service (many<br />

reasons may cause this) there is a risk that projects and services might fail to<br />

continue. Therefore, to remain sustainable churches and faith groups should<br />

seek to develop and grow the numbers of teams that meet cross-sector so that<br />

relationships may be built and extended. <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> has started to build<br />

these bridges through the online Conference, meetings with <strong>Southampton</strong> City<br />

Council, and with churches through the Church Forum.<br />

Page 50

11. Conclusion<br />

With an estimated 1.54 million meals given out across <strong>Southampton</strong> in the year<br />

2021/22, the example seen in <strong>Southampton</strong> is an encouraging one of how<br />

collaboration between faith groups, organisations and local authorities can have a<br />

profound impact in addressing the growing needs of their communities.<br />

Such high outputs are not achieved by one or two individuals alone, but through<br />

collaboration across the supply chain, across multiple sectors, and with the<br />

support of what has previously been described as ‘an army of volunteers’ who are<br />

committed and passionate to see positive social change in their community.<br />

The impact of partnerships in the process providing food aid has been<br />

demonstrated to extend further than physical health benefits. Indeed, by using<br />

food aid to help give back agency and routine, as well as signpost to other<br />

organisations the impact benefits people in the areas of mental health and<br />

wellbeing, children and education, and greater financial security. In gathering<br />

people together, projects like arketplaces that seek to be community hubs help<br />

combat isolation and loneliness.<br />

One of the key findings was the way in which greater impact is being achieved by<br />

maximising the food that goes into food projects by tapping into the surplus food<br />

that is more widely available. The Big Difference was not only able to offer food<br />

to supplement some of the existing projects, but to partner directly with schools<br />

and vulnerable adults. Being able to ‘say yes’ to collecting, and storing large<br />

quantities of food is vital in maintaining relationships with suppliers. Unlocking<br />

the current limiting factor of storage could open up a way for even more support<br />

to be given to both existing projects and new partnerships. By combining this<br />

growth opportunity with continuing the strategic decision to partner with<br />

suppliers of fresh food, there is an opportunity for increasing the positive impact<br />

on children and families through schools.<br />

The interviews with members of staff at local schools highlighted the importance<br />

of healthy food to a child’s development, and the detrimental impact of poor<br />

quality on their learning and behaviour. Recognising the significant longer-term<br />

effects on employability and behaviour within these communities, it is a crucial<br />

area to focus efforts and increase the amount of support.<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> City Mission demonstrates a strategic approach in bringing together<br />

faith groups and organisations in specific community areas and equipping them<br />

to be able to have an impact. This way of working seeks to develop hubs within<br />

the community, while providing the resources for effective impact. Equipping and<br />

training up churches with these resources reduces some of the challenges that<br />

individual churches may face when wanting to support the needs of their<br />

community.<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> City Mission demonstrates an attention to the difference between<br />

those needing emergency aid and those not yet at a crisis point, and have created<br />

projects that seek to address those differing needs. By collaborating with<br />

churches to create arketplaces they recognise the value of the community<br />

coming together, not only to have food at a more affordable price, but to connect<br />

people to information and provide solutions to more holistic problems.<br />

Page 51

Such spaces can have a positive impact on the mental health and wellbeing of the<br />

members and clients. With many people experiencing feelings of isolation and<br />

loneliness, marketplaces address these issues by bringing people together in<br />

welcoming environments where they can form relationships and share freely with<br />

volunteers and others experiencing similar challenges. Additional attention and<br />

thought should be given to identify and reach people who aren’t able to access<br />

community hubs such as marketplaces, as they are likely to be experiencing<br />

increased feelings of isolation.<br />

In addition, a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing can be achieved<br />

when members get to choose the items of food themselves as they experience a<br />

greater sense of freedom and control over their own lives. These feelings of<br />

control and agency were reported to have been experienced when members were<br />

able to plan their routines and what meals they could cook as a result of knowing<br />

that they would be attending the marketplace. Being able to access affordable<br />

food reduced the ‘lose, lose’ trade off decisions, which not only resulted in<br />

positive outcomes such as being able to turn on the heating, but reduced the<br />

strain on an individual’s mental health and wellbeing through the decision-making<br />

process itself. Therefore, when planning support interventions care should be<br />

given to ensuring that the process of receiving support is one that empowers and<br />

increases the choice and agency that an individual has.<br />

Another impact that service users and clients shared was the benefit of the<br />

signposting and partnerships with other organisations taking place within the<br />

projects themselves. People can sometimes be unaware of the additional support<br />

available through government benefits, other charities, and projects run within<br />

the community. From language classes, health check-ups, information on<br />

government benefits; information sharing and signposting helped people to<br />

access support for a wide range of challenges, and differed from project to<br />

project to reflect the needs of each community. In becoming aware of the<br />

resources and projects running within the city, charities can be effective in<br />

streamlining the specialist support needed for their members.<br />

The outputs and impacts presented in this report demonstrate the importance<br />

of partnerships and collaborations between different cross-sector organisations.<br />

Effective partnerships with faith groups can happen when partnering with<br />

organisations who have already shown a commitment to their communities<br />

through the services that they provide. Many of the projects have run for years<br />

demonstrating the commitment to their community, and showing that they can<br />

be trusted to do what they set out to achieve. Their credibility can be seen<br />

through being reliable, demonstrating humility, and being transparent with their<br />

motives and goals. Faith groups are able to streamline information sharing and<br />

access to their communities via signposting to wider, specialised initiatives while<br />

creating environments where people feel safe, cared for and welcomed.<br />

The example of collaboration in <strong>Southampton</strong> gives hope for other cities and<br />

local authorities to see that collaborating together is not only possible, but<br />

worthwhile. By sharing the findings of this evaluation, we hope to encourage<br />

further collaboration and partnerships between faith groups and local<br />

organisations.<br />

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12. Recommendations<br />

12.1. For organisations and charities<br />

Build upon data collection and storage processes<br />

Whilst collecting data for this evaluation exercise it became clear that in some<br />

cases records did exist, but were either not easily accessible, or did not provide<br />

enough detail to inform decision making processes at a project level. Having<br />

regularly updated records of relevant information not only shows<br />

accountability for funders and stakeholders, but adds credibility when looking to<br />

make evidence-based decisions, both within the organisation and at a wider<br />

partnership level. Being able to see how specific interventions and projects affect<br />

different locations, people, and needs over time enables more effective decisions<br />

and learning to be made, leading to greater impact.<br />

Plan to ensure relational continuity<br />

One of the risks identified through the research process was that the work of<br />

charities, and the relationships with their partners was often dependent on one<br />

or two key individuals. These people are critical to success and so if they step<br />

down from the role or leave for whatever reason, the work of the organisation is<br />

put at risk and a period of rebuilding will be needed to re-establish trust and<br />

relationships.<br />

Therefore, in order to ensure that relational capital and collaboration can<br />

continue, organisations and charities should plan for “succession” and develop<br />

people to maintain relationships and build trust throughout the stages of<br />

collaboration.<br />

12.2. For partnerships<br />

Create a comprehensive asset map of existing services and<br />

resources in the community<br />

Having an up-to-date asset map of the services provided in the community would<br />

not only help in making signposting more efficient and effective, but would<br />

develop a more complete picture of what was happening across the city which<br />

would help inform decision making.<br />

Understanding the resources and services available in each area would help when<br />

planning and implementing local interventions that are embedded in<br />

communities for specific geographical areas.<br />

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Continue to develop and share learning and best practice<br />

The sharing of best practice and knowledge can help both at a strategic planning<br />

level, but also amongst the individual groups and organisations that are running<br />

projects. By continuing to document and provide ‘toolkits’ helpful information<br />

can be more easily accessed and used to increase effectiveness and provide<br />

direction for new projects that are starting. Additionally, maximising the use of<br />

different hubs can create a space for some of the more nuanced and specific<br />

questions to be answered, as well as being opportunities to develop relationships,<br />

encourage one another, and share any specific findings. Where the Cost of Living<br />

Summit provided a space to look at issues and solutions more holistically across<br />

the city, hubs that are focussed on specific streams and that meet more regularly<br />

can provide an additional depth.<br />

Move partnerships beyond knowledge sharing and signposting<br />

into co-creation and innovation of solutions for local problems<br />

One of the strengths of the partnerships in providing emergency food aid<br />

throughout the pandemic, was that organisations worked together on the<br />

development and implementation of a solution. The collaboration went beyond<br />

signposting to each other’s services, or sharing information that helped each<br />

organisation be more effective individually.<br />

Having already established and committed to shared values, partnerships should<br />

focus on committing to co-creating solutions to problems and for specific<br />

locations. This will require taking the time to get the right organisations in the<br />

room, with the relevant data (both statistical data and the knowledge possessed<br />

by those working in the community to ensure evidence-based decision making),<br />

and designing fit for purpose solutions. One of the strengths of working with<br />

faith-based groups is that due to their agility, it makes piloting of solutions more<br />

feasible.<br />

Crucial in this process would be the articulation and agreement of roles,<br />

accountabilities, and the commitment to work together.<br />

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12.3 For national government, policy makers, and<br />

funders<br />

Longer funding period and continued funding from national<br />

government<br />

One of the challenges in writing this impact evaluation was that the funding<br />

period only allowed for a focus on short term impacts. Some of the interventions<br />

had not been running long enough to fully understand the impact they were<br />

having, even in the short term, and for others the long-term impact was not yet<br />

clear. Recognising that some of the wider problems in society that are often<br />

intertwined across multiple sectors it is important to recognise that there won’t<br />

be a ‘quick fix’. By providing longer funding periods more can be learnt and shared<br />

on how the interventions and partnerships with faith-based groups have a lasting<br />

impact within their communities.<br />

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13. References<br />

Blake, M. (2019, June 19). <strong>Food</strong> Ladders: A Multi-scaled approach to everyday food<br />

security and community resilience. Retrieved from Geofoodie:<br />

https://geofoodie.org/2019/06/19/food-ladders/#more-48713<br />

Blake, M. (2019). More than Just <strong>Food</strong>: Insecurity and Resilient Place Making<br />

through Community Self-Organising. Sustainability.<br />

Jeswani, H. K., Figeuroa-Torres, G., & Azapagic, A. (2021). The extent of food waste<br />

generation in the UK and its environmental impacts. Sustainable Production and<br />

Consumption(26), 532-547.<br />

(2020). Keeping the Faith: Partnerships between faith groups and local authorities<br />

during and beyond the pandemic. London: All-Party Parliamentary Group - Faith<br />

and Society.<br />

<strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong>. (2022). <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> Annual <strong>Report</strong>. <strong>Southampton</strong>.<br />

Retrieved from https://www.lovesouthampton.org.uk/documents<br />

Office for National Statistics (ONS). (2022, October 25). Impact of increased Cost<br />

of living on adults across Great Britain: June to September 2022. Retrieved from<br />

ONS website: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/personalandhouseholdfinances/expenditure/articles/impactofincreasedcostoflivingonadultsacrossgreatbritain/junetoseptember2022#cite-this-statistical-article<br />

Office for National Statistics. (2023, January 18). Cost of living latest insights.<br />

Retrieved from Office for National Statistics: https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices/articles/costofliving/latestinsights<br />

PwC. (2022). Good Growth for Cities.<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> Data Observatory. (2022, December). Census Overview. Retrieved<br />

from <strong>Southampton</strong> Data Observatory: https://data.southampton.gov.uk/images/<br />

census-2021-page-content-december-2022_tcm71-458596.pdf<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> Data Observatory. (2022, October). Economic Assessment Page.<br />

Retrieved from <strong>Southampton</strong> Data Observatory: https://data.southampton.gov.uk/<br />

images/economic-assessment-page-content-october2022_tcm71-415090.pdf<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> Data Observatory. (2021). Population size and structure. Retrieved<br />

from <strong>Southampton</strong> Data Observatory Website: https://data.southampton.gov.uk/<br />

population/pop-structure/<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> Data Observatory. (2020, November). <strong>Southampton</strong> Strategic<br />

Assessment: Deprivation and poverty. Retrieved from <strong>Southampton</strong> Data<br />

Observatory: https://data.southampton.gov.uk/images/deprivation-and-poverty-05-11-2020_tcm71-408119.pdf<br />

The Waste and Resources Action Programme. (2021, October). <strong>Food</strong> surplus and<br />

waste in the UK - key facts. Retrieved from WRAP: www.wrap.org.uk/food-drink<br />

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Trussell Trust. (2022). Trussell Trust End of Year Stats. Retrieved from Trussell<br />

Trust data briefing on end-of-year: https://www.trusselltrust.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/04/EOY-Stats-2022-Data-Briefing.pdf<br />

WRAP. (2020, October 9). <strong>Report</strong>ing on the amounts of food surplus redistributed<br />

(weight and meal equivalents; WRAP guidance) . Retrieved from wrap.org.uk:<br />

https://preprod.wrap.org.uk/system/files/2020-09/WRAP-Expressing%20redistributed%20food%20surplus%20as%20meal%20equivalents%20%28WRAP%20guidance%29.pdf<br />

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Contact details<br />

www.lovesouthampton.org.uk<br />

info@lovesouthampton.org.uk<br />

@lovesoton<br />

@lovesoton<br />

lovesouthampton6719<br />

© 2023 Jean Hirst and Professor Keith Brown<br />

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