“The effectiveness of this approach is clear; the more support made available to people during their first visit to a food bank, the shorter the period of time they are likely to be hungry.”All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger, 2015
The Pathways From Poverty model involves placing specialist Advice Workers into community-led food projects, including both Affordable Food Clubs and food banks, so that they can help immediately to resolve some of the wider issues that have resulted in people needing to access those projects. The Advice Workers provide support around benefits, debt advice, budgeting, housing, energy or employment.
This approach is proven to reduce the duration and severity of hunger experienced by those individuals who have been referred to a food bank and means they no longer need to rely on emergency food parcels. It also maximises the incomes of people who have signed up for Affordable Food Clubs.
Where are we piloting Pathways From Poverty?
We began piloting this approach in 2015 with our regional partners in the Feeding Birkenhead network. An advisor was commissioned from Involve Northwest, an independent advice charity, to support clients at the Wirral Food Bank and other community food projects in Birkenhead. More than 1,500 people received specialist support during this pilot exercise, with more than half having their crises resolved immediately and many others receiving the intensive longer term help they needed to re-establish their full benefit entitlement.
On the back of this work, and thanks to funding from the National Lottery Community Fund, Feeding Britain scaled up Pathways From Poverty across the Feeding Bradford & Keighley, Feeding Derbyshire, and Feeding Leicester networks. In the first two years of the project, more than 2,500 people received specialist support. In total, the project has increased people’s annual household incomes by £900,000 and, in doing so, it has also reduced the long-term need for food banks. Moreover, the project has busted the limits that poverty all too often places on people’s lives, by addressing issues such as housing, schooling, and accessibility which had contributed to people’s vulnerability.
We are now expanding the project across Bath & North East Somerset, Coventry, Gainsborough, Halton, Hastings & Rother, Mansfield, Merthyr Tydfil, St Helens, and Wirral. These latest projects include non-emergency food settings such as Affordable Food Clubs, as well as food banks.
Read our summary paper here which provides an overview of Pathways’ development and implementation, as well as some key considerations for partners wishing to pilot the model in their area.
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