Food Resilience Alliance cooks up big plans to bring together the community

Published Tuesday 8 December 2020 at 17:25

A local partnership is bringing people together from all over the borough to tackle the issue of food sustainability this winter – and beyond.

The Blackburn with Darwen Food Resilience Alliance was formed out of the great response by the community during the first wave of covid. The FRA is now focusing on bringing groups in the area to address food poverty and the issues within our current food systems.

The alliance has helped with the introduction of a Covid Winter Grant from the Government by listening to what our families have been asking for via The Help Hub. There is help for struggling families with food and bills this winter. No one should go hungry and support is out there for people who need it.

It is more important than ever to have nutritious, healthy food during the colder winter months, and even more important to help people keep healthy during the current pandemic. The groups aim to share knowledge to help people provide, grow and cook healthy food to improve the health and wellbeing of the borough’s residents across our diverse community.

It is a movement to bring communities together to end food poverty in its many forms and aims to change the way we think about and eat food, and liked to our local response to the Climate emergency

However, action is needed not just at a local level – big solutions from the Government are needed to tackle the inequalities that are the cause of food poverty to really solve the problem and make a difference.

The Food Alliance has played a part in the important work the Blackburn with Darwen Help Hub has been doing during the pandemic – collecting, packing, and delivering food and supplies to the most vulnerable in the borough who have been shielding or who have been in need of food due to other issues.

To contact the Help Hub you can call (01254) 588111 between Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm or go to:

The partnership founded on the basis of ‘food justice’, which advocates for local food champions and food partnerships to campaign for change nationally and locally as well as lobbying the Government . The aim is the same as the Food Resilience Alliance – to tackle hunger and ensure everyone is able to make healthy food choices.

Led by Councillor Jackie Floyd and Beth Wolfenden, Public Health Development Manager, the work the alliance is doing is more important than ever as the Covid-19 pandemic means that more people than ever in the borough are struggling to make ends meet and provide enough food for their families and themselves.

As Chairperson of the Alliance Jackie is building bridges across the many groups and individuals and groups across the town to encourage them to play their part in the alliance, from scouts and dinnerladies, and every service within the council

Jackie has lived in Blackburn for 30 years and has been ward Councillor for Billinge and Beardwood since May 2018 and lives in the area.

She has been instrumental in the Blackburn with Darwen Food Resilience Alliance since its beginning, and is passionate about helping families and people out of food poverty and working to encourage sustainability through many ways such as food growing and reducing food waste, two important areas that all citizens can become involved in.

She said:

What the FRA aims to do is to leave no stone unturned in tackling food poverty as it is linked to every area of someone’s life. It is not just being able to afford enough food, it’s getting the right sort of food, knowing how to cook it, being organised, and so on. We need to look at the causes of food poverty properly as well as providing the here and now.

These are often the most vulnerable people in our community and it is so important to try and make a difference for the most vulnerable in our communities them. The importance for children and young people of regular, healthy meals is well recognised, Being hungry is an Adverse Childhood Experience that can massively and negatively affect a child’s life.

What we are looking at is everything from availability of shops, getting people to correct money, local growing groups and further education. In the new year we are planning a large mapping exercise where we will be asking individuals and groups across the town to help with understanding the real detail of our local food supply systems.

The community gardens at Bank Top Neighbourhood centre is an an example of a success that we want to develop more of and make sure everyone has local access to healthy food

This collaboration between the public, private and charities is a great way forward. It is definitely the way forward for real change – the more help from different places we get, the bigger the impact we can make. I hope we can carry on making a difference with the Covid Winter Grant this season – winter can be the most difficult time for people in food poverty so anything we can do to build resilience will help.”

Blackburn Mall has kindly donated £2,000 to boost the coffers of the Covid Winter Grant and allow the scheme to reach out and help more people that need it.

Councillor Mohammed Khan, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said:

The work the Food Resilience Alliance is doing across the community is vitally important to many people in our borough who need our help the most, and Jackie and Beth and all those connected to the  team are working to make a real difference to people’s lives.

As a Council we are working incredibly hard alongside this to provide food and resources that people so desperately need during this incredibly difficult time. I am positive that if we keep on with all our partnerships and hard work we can help people turn a corner and improve their lives.”

Members involved in the Food Resilience Alliance number over 40 organisations and departments, all committed to developing the borough’s food strategy. Public Health Blackburn with Darwen (BwD) Eat Well Strategy; adopted by the Council, CCG, East Lancashire Hospitals Trust, Together Lancashire (supports faith/community groups, experience of networking those responding to food poverty), Healthwatch, Housing Associations, mental health groups, children and youth support services, growing projects, and primary and secondary schools

You can find out more about the Food Resilience Alliance on Facebook at:

The website (still in development can be found here:

The BwD FRA is welcoming of groups and individuals willing to share in these ambitious goals.



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