FoodCycle tackles social isolation and food poverty in Birmingham. Loneliness is mentally and physically crushing and it can increase the risk of premature death by up to a quarter, just as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Elderly people and those from marginalised groups are at particular risk of social exclusion. A recent interview with Contact the Elderly in Birmingham stated that there are an estimated 10,000 elderly people living alone, many of whom will never receive any visitors. Food poverty affects low income households who worry that their food will run out to pensioners skipping a meal to pay their gas bill. One in eight people in the UK live in homes that report not having enough food and in Birmingham, many people do not have access to nutritious food. FoodCycle Birmingham is located in Aston and we are also just about to reopen another project in Yardley. Aston is one of the most deprived areas of the city and it is estimated that at least four in ten children living in the area are living in poverty.
FoodCycle provide delicious and nutritious three course meals every Sunday lunchtime at the Birmingham Settlement in Aston. People from all walks of life attend FoodCycle but most of their guests are either elderly, disabled, or from low income households – groups that are at most risk of becoming socially isolated and affected by food poverty. Last year FoodCycle served 1,354 meals and packed 446 Tupperware boxes for people to take away with them. FoodCycle meals are organised and cooked by local volunteers and are made from surplus food that would otherwise have been wasted. In Birmingham last year FoodCycle made use of 4,845 kg of surplus food that would otherwise have been thrown in the bin. FoodCycle volunteers also host guests, ensuring that new guests are introduced to other people and that everyone feels welcome.
FoodCycle provides people with a healthy meal and a chance to socialise and make new friends. They build strong, inclusive communities over good food.
This year, FoodCycle’s priorities are to further develop the skills of their volunteers and to conduct outreach activities to increase awareness of their service so they can refer FoodCycle guests to other local organisations that can help them.
The Wisdom Factory CIC is a social enterprise creating wisdom from knowledge, skills and experience for community benefit. At least 5% of turnover is set aside for a grant-making fund that will be allocated to Birmingham good causes in the spring of each year, just after the company’s year-end. And we’re based in an old factory.
My name is Mike Mounfield and I am a Director of The Wisdom Factory CIC as well as a projects manager, trainer and developer of our BIDBase web database project.