Food and poverty come under the spotlight

The University of Northampton

1st February 2018


The University of Northampton

THE University of Northampton has been appointed to lead an evaluation into the effectiveness of a collaborative and multi-disciplinary food and poverty programme based in the town.

Natasha Bayes, researcher and graduate of the university's Masters in Public Health course whose dissertation focused on people's experiences of food poverty, has commenced the evaluation in collaboration with co-lead Dr Roz Collings. The findings of the evaluation will be reported in late 2021.

The HUB partnership was created in June 2016 to look at what interventions work best to help people facing hardship crisis. These included:

- Access to the food aid

- Advice and advocacy from local partnerships such as Citizens Advice Bureau

- Cookery courses, including information about budget shopping and reducing food waste

- Creative workshops designed to help services users, or guests make, do and mend

- A money course to help guests devise a manageable budget and learn how to save

The HUB partnership is led by Northampton food charity Re:store, in collaboration with the Springs Family Centre, Northampton Community Foundation and the Central and East Northamptonshire Citizen's Advice Bureau.

The project is funded by the Big Lottery Fund's Help Through Crisis fund (now closed to applications) and the evaluation will involve two stages.

The first looks at reviewing the data collection tools designed to identify guests' socio-economic circumstances and how they can be supported through the services.

For the second work stream, the research team will interview guests to find out if and how using the services has impacted them (such as their health and well being, life skills, employment status and access to crisis provision).

Researchers will speak with Community Champions (guests who have benefited from the services and promote these to new people) to see how this role can be further used to encourage life changes in guests.

They will also survey stakeholders to see how the partnership has worked and what changes are needed to make it work better in the future.

The evaluation will be rounded off with visits to key project partners to identify what is working and what can be improved.

Natasha said: "The multidisciplinary services provided through the HUB partnership are of huge importance to people facing hardship crisis. It's therefore important that we understand the effectiveness of the project in meeting its outcomes in supporting people facing socio-economic hardship to change their circumstances.

"It has been a pleasure working with Anya and the wider partners and I look forward to continuing to working with them over the next few years."

Anya Willis, Director of Re:store in Northampton, added: "We've been proceeding at a great pace with our Hub partners, but to ensure the future success of the programme, we need an objective, in-depth look at what works, why and what our guests feel about the services we provide for them. At the end of the day, it's their views that matter so we will be working with Natasha and her team on this evaluation."

The University of Northampton