Wolverhampton community organisations launch food campaign

WV10 cookbook offers new solution to feeding families during school holidays.

A collaboration of small grassroots organisations in Wolverhampton are taking a different approach to the free school meals debate by launching a campaign to feed the whole family for less than £45 per week.

The WV10 Consortium, which covers Low Hill, The Scotlands, Bushbury Hill and surrounding neighbourhoods, has launched a budget cookbook, developed by local families and volunteers on the WV10 HeadStart programme.

It shows families how they can provide three meals a day using fresh produce and a bit of creative thinking for between £35 and £45.

There are food facts, meal plans, budgeting help and lots of different meal ideas covering breakfast, lunch and dinner across the 82-pages and these include anything from toad in the hole and fish curry, to potato, onion and carrot bake and apple and blackberry crumble.

This latest project is much more than a cookbook and will be used to engage local people to improve their life skills, such as money management, budgeting and improving health and wellbeing.

Run by local people to support local people, the WV10 Consortium is hoping to secure funds to support local families who are in receipt of free school meals to cover the Easter and Summer holidays and are now looking at a variety of funding measures and corporate partnerships to help top this up.

“The areas we cover are some of the most densely populated in Wolverhampton and among the most deprived neighbourhoods in the country,” explained Kim Payne, Director of Community Action & Training Services and Partnership Manager at WV10.

“Rather than just providing the child with one meal a day we want to be a little more creative and look at delivering a solution to feed the entire family with three meals per day, whilst supporting them to move on to a better situation and, therefore, become less reliant on assistance going forward.”

She continued: “We are firm believers in giving people the skills and the tools to improve their own lives so they can live independently and progress in life. It’s not a case of just giving out handouts, it’s about giving everyone a fair opportunity.”

The cookbook forms part of a larger WV10 initiative called Life after the Foodbank, which is designed to prevent people having to queue up at a food bank by providing a programme of support to address the root cause of why they need to do this in the first place.

Under the current Covid-19 restrictions, this is being delivered via food parcels and online resources, coupled with befriending, wellbeing calls and signposting to other essential services.

Post-pandemic, the programme will be delivered across all WV10 Community Hubs and will involve healthy cooking sessions and families taking home food items that will provide ingredients for the recipes featured within the cookbook.

Kim concluded: “This is another example of the power of local people working together. We know we can achieve more than just a food parcel and everyone appreciates the massive impact this approach could have on some of the most vulnerable families in our area.”

WV10 Consortium is made up of a number of strategic partners, including Big Local Venture Centre, Bushbury Hill Estate Management Board, Bushbury Community Action Group, Low Hill Community Hub, Park Village Education Centre, SBH Partnership and The Women & Families Resource Centre.

It provides a broad range of support via peers with lived experience and, over the last six years, has delivered nearly £3m of funded projects, ranging from HeadStart and Bushbury Buddies to Rock School and Community Hub funds.