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Sowing the seeds for positive social change

14 August 2013
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The sun has shone more than most had dared hope, but not everyone’s having a lovely summer.  The Trussell Trust has announced that increasing numbers of families are struggling to feed their children throughout the break, let alone enjoy the good weather.

The so-called ‘Summer of Hunger’ has seen a rise in demand at all its 18 food banks across the UK, an increase the Trust attributes to welfare changes, rising food prices and, for families who in term time benefit from their children having free school lunches, having to scrape an extra meal from thin air.

With food banks increasingly acting as a lifeline for some of UK’s most disadvantaged families, could this be a good time for communities to think about applying practical skills to help tackle food poverty?

Our communications work for charity The Conservation Volunteers raises awareness of how it is helping to bring communities together through projects that aim to tackle isolation and equip people with the skills and support to grow their own food and improve their health at the same time. This includes promotion of its 80 ‘Green Gyms’ across the country which offer the opportunity for people to get involved in activities using local green spaces, such as nature reserves, allotments and community gardens, to grow food that can provide families with healthy and nutritious staples.

Though by no means a full solution to the rising need for food banks, these types of projects provide a safe, supportive opportunity for communities to connect, grow fruit and veg and get fit. This programme has also been shown to improve mental health, often connected to isolation and physical ill health.

Our communications challenge has been balancing media coverage to incorporate what the charity does both for the environment and people, focusing on its growing number of  ‘community champions’ who are taking charge of bringing back to life disused but much loved green spaces for the benefit of all.

So what better time for us all to roll our sleeves up and get involved in community projects like this that brings tangible benefits to our physical and psychological health, and help the environment too.

We’ve even caught the community growing bug here at Forster, with our balcony heaving with edible, organic delights.

For more information about how to get involved with The Conservation Volunteers check out http://www.tcv.org.uk/