Find out how GPs, businesses and charities are working to stop Ipswich families going hungry
PUBLISHED: 19:30 25 February 2019
Simon Lee Photography
Every effort is being made to ensure no child in Suffolk goes hungry - with help being targeted at communities that are most in need.
During half-term, projects to help young people were the focus with work taking place in the Whitton, Whitehouse and Castle Hill areas of Ipswich an example of what is being done to work with youngsters to provide more food and also help them learn about what they are eating.
While large areas of Suffolk are affluent, many families struggle to make ends meet with over 20,000 children living in poverty.
There are 50 emergency food providers in Suffolk, feeding thousands of people of all ages.
East and West Suffolk’s Clinical Commissioning Groups have created an Emergency Food Fund in partnership with Suffolk Community Foundation (SCF), which has already awarded over £65,000 to 10 food banks and other voluntary organisations involved in feeding hungry people in the county.
Together with other funding from private donors and local businesses, the aim is to tackle the issue together.
Dr Juno Jesuthasan, a GP with a practice in central Ipswich, highlighted the importance of this project on a visit to the Whitton Youth Partnership during half-term, a time when without school dinners children often go hungry for days on end.
He said: “This year, the CCGs have put in place various transformation projects to give back to the locality with Chief Officer Ed Garratt and his team really wanting to maximise efforts to address the statistic that almost 28% of children living in Ipswich are living below the poverty line. As part of our alliance working strategy, organisations working together can achieve far more than working in silos.”
The Whitton Youth partnership is at the sharp end – situated at the heart of a community that suffers from these challenges more acutely than most.
The project offers play and youth services, which aim to respond to local needs and help youngsters aged six to 19 in the Whitton, Whitehouse and Castle Hill areas.
“It’s an ongoing situation,’ explains volunteer Jim Manning, secretary of the Whitton Youth Partnership. “It’s been so good to welcome Dr Juno and some of SCF’s donors and team to see our project live in action today.
“Not all our young people are hungry, but especially during the half term holiday, with no access to food at school, we do see hunger on the increase.”
Partnership chairman and volunteer Ray Boggis said: “One particular child was coming to the counter at the end of the sessions to stock up on biscuits, showing that they are often thinking about where their next meal is going to come from. We simply can’t allow children to wait for days on end for their next proper meal to arrive.”
SCF’s head of grant programmes Andrea Pittock said: “In the past we may have considered funding any elements of food or refreshment as ‘nice to have extras’ for a community-based project. The need has now changed so dramatically, that we now need to consider this more seriously as an element to our donor grantmaking activity.”.
Sessions at the youth project have included the youngsters learning about food and its preparation, making up fruit kebabs, learning life skills and receiving nutrition they need now.
Summer Talbot volunteers at the project while at university, but she attended the youth club when she was younger, too. She explains: “These types of projects are essential for young people. We provide food for them which is great, but also it’s a chance for them to learn a bit more about what they are eating.”
Andy Fell, a youth worker at the project, agrees. “Even just making pizzas. They love doing that, but what it also does is build a skill set; they’re talking about what they’re putting on it, learning about the food, and we all sit down together to eat which helps build that family approach. It’s a whole package that’s adding to the child’s development,” he said.
SCF’s head of public affairs Tim Holder said: ‘We hear time and again from the voluntary sector that they know what they need to do, but to do it they need more resource and more money.
“We’re so delighted to see our local Clinical Commissioning Groups harnessing the power of volunteers. When you support many hours of volunteering with donations from private individuals and businesses, we really have got the making of a team that will help us to make sure that no child in Suffolk goes hungry.”