A new group to help tackle food poverty in Keighley was launched this week by the town’s Mayor, Cllr Graham Mitchell, and our church in Keighley. The new over-arching group aims to bring together a number of local agencies and organisations to work together in helping the local community identify and tackle the root causes of food poverty in the town.
For more than 130 years The Salvation Army has been has been supporting the most vulnerable members of the community in Keighley. Today, one of the corps key areas of work is to help local people overcome food poverty by identifying and tackling the root causes. Recent changes to the way the corps operates its services has led to an increase in the tailored help received by local people. In the last six months the corps has worked with more than 300 Keighley individuals and families.
The new group will aim to address the complex, underlying issues of food poverty by providing a means the members to share experiences which is hoped will lead to closer cooperation and increased success. The group will bring together a number of local agencies at its first meeting this week. These include, representatives from the Town Centre Association, Keighley Police, Wellsprings Together Bradford, Keighley inTouch Foundation, local mental health leaders, the probation service and local health services, nearby churches, Citizens Advice Bureau, Project 6 and the DWP.
Mayor Cllr Mitchell selected the corps as his Mayor charity and made it his aim to launch the new group before he leaves office on the 20th May. He said:
“The leaders of Keighley Salvation Army and I feel that an area of urgent need is to bring key agency workers, community leaders and people who are affected by food poverty, together to build closer co-operation, and to respond more effectively to long term needs.
“No one organisation can tackle poverty on its own. It’s an issue which challenges the whole community and the responses to it need to echo that. The Salvation Army works daily with people affected by food poverty and recognises the need to ensure that people do not become dependent on the help they receive. However, we believe that poverty will never truly be addressed until those who experience it first-hand are at the heart of the process. There is a real need to move the debate on so that while accepting emergency food provisions as a current necessary measure, we collectively need to find more sustainable long term solutions to food poverty, combining food aid with welfare advice and advocacy and bringing together existing players with food providers and the state.
“We fully understand that food poverty is an interconnected issue impacting on crime, mental and physical health, relationships and social exclusion. Therefore, the responses to food poverty need to reflect the wide-ranging complex dynamics of the issue. To our knowledge, our group is the first of its kind and we believe it can make a real difference to the community in Keighley.”
They key objectives of the group are:
1) To identify areas where strategic local partnerships can strengthen the level of support surrounding the food bank.
2) To build a greater understanding of qualitative and quantitative data around food poverty Keighley.
3) To allow people who have been in food poverty to inform and inspire discussion about social exclusion and food poverty.
This year The Salvation Army is celebrating 150 years of transforming lives and it is still at the heart of every community today, supporting those in need.