How a new project is getting affordable food to a community in Devon
Holsworthy Food Hub opened its doors in May 2023, and in its first six months was already supporting 96 households.
This winter, their food support is ever more in need, as heating bills rise and high food costs bite harder. In January 2024 they sold their one thousandth bag of food, meaning this project has brought an estimated £10,000 of extra food into the pockets of low-income households in Holsworthy.
Holsworthy’s main supermarket is a Waitrose, and the nearest budget supermarket is over 8 miles away. People with limited money, no transport or mobility issues are likely to buy additional food from local convenience shops at higher prices.
Spearheading the project is Alison Knight, Community Connector at LiveWest. LiveWest is social housing provider and also offer shared ownership, alongside schemes for older and young people. With 39,000 properties between South Bristol and the Scilly Isles, they’re committed to setting up projects which support their residents, with food projects a priority.
“We based our model on Feeding Devon, which is how we heard about FareShare South West,’ Alison explains. “FareShare South West supply around a third of our food. We then buy in low-cost supermarket food, as we always want to be able to give out cereal, milk, pasta or rice, and something like a jar of pasta sauce: staples so people can rely on us.”
Households can buy a bag of food from the hub for £5 with a value of at least £15; larger households can buy two bags.
The project also supports Holsworthy Community Fridge which is also part of Holsworthy Food Projects CIC, ensuring no food goes to waste.
Much more than food
Holsworthy is a rural area, leaving many people feeling isolated. As well as an affordable place to shop, the hub offers free refreshments and a warm welcome.
Recipes are shared at the hub, and people enjoy swapping photos of what they’ve cooked on the hub Facebook group.
The project also nurtures the people it supports. Four of the volunteers started as customers. Four volunteers are now training as volunteer co-ordinators, gaining qualifications in food hygiene and preparing to take on more responsibilities.
“We’re empowering the people who are using the service to help develop and design it,” says Alison. “So far the hub seems to appeal to people who feel reasonably confident about cooking, but we’ll be asking if people would like cooking demonstrations.”
Good news for the future
Setting up a project like this takes many hands. Start-up costs were funded by LiveWest, and a grant from Devon County Council’s Community Resilience Fund, as well as smaller grants from Torridge District Council and Holsworthy Town Council. Partners DMAT (Dartmouth Multi Academy Trust), TTVS ( Torridge Volunteer Services) and other partners had a role in helping set up and run the hub.
Now it’s established, Alison and the team have now ensured this vital local hub can continue supporting local people.
“We’ve secured an Awards for All grant of £7,250, which means that the project is now financially secure for two to three years. This will fund rent and some of the food costs.”
Longer term, the team would like to connect people to other services to improve their financial situation, and to open as a warm hub. They’d also like to offer a delivery service to local residents who aren’t able to come to the hub.
LiveWest provides over 40,000 homes to over 80,000 people throughout the South West from Gloucestershire to the Isles of Scilly.
LiveWest has plans to build more than 5,000 homes in the area over the next five years, developing new homes of all tenures including low-cost rent and sale, market rent and sale, and a range of supported housing and intermediate housing products creating choice and flexibility.
As well as developing new homes, LiveWest continues to invest in existing properties and communities.
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