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Shaping Places for Healthier Lives: Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Councils

Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire local authorities are leading a vision to develop innovative, long-term system changes to improve food security and reduce health inequalities in some of their most disadvantaged communities.

Food distribution centre

Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire

Bristol City Council, North Somerset Council and South Gloucestershire Council (BNSSG) are leading councils in an initiative aimed at developing innovative, long-term system changes to improve food security and reduce health inequalities in some of the most disadvantaged communities in the region.

Food insecurity can be defined as ‘the inability to acquire or consume an adequate quality or sufficient quantity of food in socially acceptable ways, or the uncertainty that one will be able to do so’ (Dowler, 2001: Poverty Bites: Food, Health and Poor Families. London: Child Poverty Action Group). It is a symptom of poverty and links to inadequate and/or insecure income, issues with welfare, increased living costs, rising debt, and financial problems for households and has been exacerbated over the last 18-months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The three councils are working together, to establish the issues and drivers that lead to food insecurity within five areas of high need and are working towards alleviating them.

Their approach explores the structures and boundaries of the underlying causes food insecurity and their interactions. This will enable them to identify the challenges and barriers, and then design improvements required for positive change and provide added value for organisations already grappling with the challenges of food insecurity.

Their aims include:

  • Developing solutions to food insecurity which are pragmatic, manageable, and sustainable.
  • Reducing health inequalities.
  • Developing solutions that build on the physical and social assets of each community at regional, local and neighbourhood level in a way that creates additional value for their local communities.
  • Collaborating, joining up and co-creating solutions to learn from and build on the many successful local food security initiatives and aspirations that have grown during the COVID-19 pandemic and not lose precious social gains made during the pandemic.
  • Developing solutions that enhance community resilience and cohesion and gain wider stakeholder support by aligning with the strategies and goals of local public, private and third sectors.
  • Understanding which solutions and/or design approaches are transferable to other areas or communities and share this widely.

Read more about the progress made so far and the lessons learned in the BNSSG: Improving food security at a local level case study.

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