Even though we’ve now hurtled into 2023, our 2021-22 annual report provides a useful overview of the year from July 2021 to June 2022 and some of the things we were planning after that (many of which have now come to fruition). It also includes our annual accounts and much more information for those that are interested.
Another challenging year draws to a close. We have experienced first-hand the realities of the effects of lockdown and the implications on communities. Loneliness, isolation, mental ill health, and lots of uncertainty. Our own team have suffered loss and the grief that comes with that. As always though, they have risen to the challenges and faced adversity headlong.
We continued to support Bradford’s foodbanks and feeding projects with funding from the Council’s Household Support Fund, purchasing and distributing food to projects across Bradford. We have heard that funding is anticipated to cover the newly emerging cost of living crisis for a while longer, but beyond this we always need to look ahead to supporting sustainable food supplies.
In rethinking their own priorities, Wellsprings Together passed the baton to us for the Feeding Bradford & Keighley Network. Cathy Henwood, network Coordinator, transferred to our team in May. This is a critical time for the network as the food landscape changes, and Cathy supports partners across the district in developing their food offer. We have also developed feedingbradford.org.uk to share resources and ideas across the network partners.
We continue to maintain our Find Food in Bradford website (bradfordfoodbanks.org.uk), signposting people to their nearest foodbank or social supermarket, which has been extensively publicised and used by network partners and organisations across the city.
Our FoodSavers projects go from strength to strength, and we have supported ten independent food providers to transition to the pantry model. Members can pay a weekly membership fee of £6 and open a Credit Union account. A pound of their membership fee is then paid into the Credit Union on their behalf to start them off on the savings pathway. With over two hundred savers this is proving to be an innovative way to help communities build financial resilience and start along a road towards building food security. In May we were visited by Scott Butterfield, an adviser to over 200 Credit Unions across the USA, and he was interested to take (amongst other things) the FoodSavers concept to the USA.
Partnership has always been the key to our success, and we have developed and strengthened new ones this year. We co-hosted meetings on food security and spoke to national calls on the cost of living crisis. We continued teaching valuable cooking skills to adults and children – distanced, outdoors, online, or however we could.
The link between eating well and mental health cannot be understated, but affordability is a real barrier to healthy eating. In our Challenge22, run with Bradford Bronte Rotary Club, we will be inviting people to ‘live’ on just £22 for a week, which was what we are being told that many of our customers have left to feed their family after paying household bills. Last year this was a real challenge for participants, both mentally and physically, and we expect this year to be no different.
We are still uncertain about the future of our winter shelter provision, and we will keep speaking with partners to see how the new horizon develops this winter. The cost of living crisis has added to the burden of many already vulnerable families so we will be continuing to develop our winter offering. We will also be adding to our team to support the developing services we have planned to meet the increasing need.
Juli Thompson, CEO
You can read or download the full report below.