4 Creating sustainable services
With FFTF providing short term funding, the main challenge identified by all the projects was finding a way to carry the service on when their FFTF funding finished. Almost all projects will need continued support from funders in some way. However, projects were taking a range of actions to reduce their need for cash from funders in the future.
These actions are relevant to increasing the scope and ability of communities to continue to support food insecurity. More broadly, they are also relevant in helping community projects support vulnerable groups.
4.1 Creating a community means that people reinvest their time and resources
Projects found it much easier to get volunteers and resources if people saw it as a part of being a community rather than contributing to a charitable cause. Moreover, if everyone plays the role of contributor and beneficiary, then many of the functions traditionally done by staff members or formal volunteer roles can be done by the community - for example, teaching cooking classes and organising donated food.
Several spin-off projects from FFTF projects had been initiated. A number of participants from a range of FFTF projects identified needs in the community and took steps to respond to them. It appears that FFTF projects had given participants the confidence to address problems in their own community and the knowledge to identify needs and set-up projects to address them. Two examples of this are illustrated next.
“We have a walking group…set up by a local…people are supporting each other outwith the group as well, started going to aqua-aerobics and things together. The two who started doing that together, the change in them from when they started has been incredible, they were so quiet and shy before whereas now they’re all pals.” – Staff member at Link Up (Bridging the Gap)
Pilton Community Health Project (PCHP) and Bridging the Gap had been particularly successful in helping participants to address community needs themselves. Two volunteers from PCHP had gone on to create spin-off groups of their own. At Bridging the Gap, several new groups had been set-up by community members, including a walking group started by a participant. This participant was already a member of a pre-existing walking group, but this was at “the other end of Gorbals”. They recognised that setting up a similar group in their local area had the potential to engage new people and would be of benefit to them. Initially Link Up staff supported the formation of this group by producing and distributing flyers. However, the group now had “arms and legs of its own”, requiring little assistance. The perception of Link Up staff was that the group had generated a range of benefits for its participants, including a local support network.
At Beith Trust, parents supported one another through socialising at the cooking classes and crochet mornings. One parent felt empowered to set up another crochet group at their nursery as they saw how much opportunities like this could benefit parents in their community.
4.2 Finding ways to generate income and reduce costs
A number of projects were finding creative ways to generate income from their activities and reduce the costs of delivering activities in order to do more with FFTF funding.
Beith Trust used their Beith Beer Festival to generate income from people purchasing tickets, food and drink. They had rental income from hiring out the land they own for local sports, including their football pitches and tennis courts. More recently, Beith Trust had also begun to build and furnish flats within its grounds. These were providing employment opportunities to local residents and, when finished, will provide another source of income. The Barn’s arts and crafts group had begun to sell what its members were making at local stalls. This sustained the group as more materials could be purchased with the money being made.
Many projects were seeking to reduce the cost of delivery through growing their own food. Using ingredients from community gardens reduced the quantity of shop bought food required, and so the cost of each community meal. This was a popular approach being pioneered by several projects. These included: St. Paul’s Youth Forum, Kate’s Kitchen, Woodlands Community Development Trust, Start-Up Stirling, Kyle of Sutherland, West Dunbartonshire Community Foodshare, Granton Community Gardeners, The First Base Agency, Community Renewal Trust, Midlothian Foodbank, Sauchie Active8, Penicuik Community Alliance Ltd and The Edinburgh Food Project. Several of these projects were successfully using garden grown vegetables for meals and food parcels.
Woodlands Community Development Trust provided a three-course vegetarian meal once a week at their pop-up community café using ingredients solely from their community garden and from donations (e.g. Tesco). When interviewed, one staff member explained that this was allowing them to only buy items such as oil and herbs with money from funders, freeing up money for other activities.
Transition projects sometimes struggled with costs, which could hinder their ability to expand into other non-food-related activities. It was explained that this was because existing infrastructure was set up for the specific purpose of a traditional food bank and changing this had costly overheads.
Email: Catriona Rooke
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