The Pathways from Poverty model involves placing specialist advice workers into community-led food projects to help resolve some of the wider issues that households are facing when they receive help with food. The advice workers build trusted relationships with households in these familiar settings, and can then provide expert support around benefits, debt, budgeting, housing, energy, or employment.
Feeding Britain has now supported the expansion of this approach to community food projects in 14 regional partnerships. From January to March 2022, 415 households met an advice worker through the Pathways from Poverty initiative in nine of those regional partnerships, with a total increase in annual household incomes of £226,523.79 as a result of this approach. It is likely that this will increase further as decisions are made on benefits applications processed in that period. This cautious estimate indicates that, over a full year, the programme in its current form will increase annual household incomes by £1 million while simultaneously reducing the long-term need for food banks.
Of the 415 households, 150 reported their issues are on the way to being, or have been, resolved. 139 reported an improvement in their wellbeing as a result of this support.
Case study from Foleshill Community Centre (see photo): A man in his sixties found his financial situation became precarious during the pandemic. His electricity was cut off and he built up a lot of debt. He was suffering from mental ill health and was not able to work. His Job Seekers Allowance could not cover his cost of living. When he first came to the Centre he was at risk of being evicted, and his physical and mental health were deteriorating. The Advice Worker looked at his electricity bills and debt, and arranged payment of the outstanding bills. They then got him an appointment with the GP, who found that he had diabetes among other issues. After further medical assessments, the Advice Worker successfully applied for him to receive the allowance for Limited Capability to Work and Personal Independence Payment. He also received a substantial back payment of benefits and is now receiving enough to cover his living expenses. Following a referral to the Learning Disability Team, he now also has a support worker to help him with his everyday needs such as cooking, cleaning, washing and paying bills. His physical and mental health have improved significantly. He continues to come to the Foleshill Comminity Centre each week and has now started volunteering at the Centre to support the project that supported him. He has said: “The community centre is a unique place, it has been an exceptional experience for me.”
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