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Laid bare: the reality of every day hunger

This news post is over 6 years old

​A community in north Edinburgh speaks out about food insecurity

The real stories of those living with the brutal reality of every day hunger form the basis of a bombshell new report.

Hungry For Change is the result of extensive conversations with those experiencing the reality of food poverty in a community in the north of Edinburgh.

It shows the devastating impact food insecurity has on physical and mental health and people’s sense of self-worth.

The report was compiled by Pilton Community Health Project, which wants it to be a catalyst for change.

It shows how food insecurity is caused by poverty and austerity.

One resident told researchers: “The government needs to realise that food poverty is a symptom of poverty, there’s more that needs to be fixed than just the food.”

People said that government at all levels should take more responsibility for tacking food insecurity.

It explores foodbank use as well as the benefits sanctions regime.

On dealing with the Department of Work and pensions, one repondent said: "There's a lack of a human face, a lack of relationship. If you don't tick this box, you'll be sanctioned.

"The fact that you're in hospital and can't make that appointment is irrelevant."

One finding was that residents in north Edinburgh have led the development of community initiatives that provide food for others and those who are experiencing food insecurity find these locally grown solutions a more dignified way for them to obtain food.

The report authors said it highlights the need to include the voices and opinions of those who have experienced food insecurity and those who work with them at the heart of the debate, so they are leading solutions.

Sean Fitzharris, resident and leader of MAD (mums and dads) cooking sessions and advisor to Pilton Community Health Project’s food team, said “I got involved because I see how poverty is affecting people around me. We can deliver some activities that help people get enough food, but we need decision makers to listen to us to fix the bigger picture. Our experience is rich and valuable and we want to be part of the solution.”

Anita Aggarwal, community development manager at Pilton Community Health Project, added: “We can’t do our work without Sean and the many, many other community activists in north Edinburgh.

“To find effective and dignified solutions to food insecurity we have to learn from residents like Sean. We hope this report is a platform for their views.”

To read the full report, click here.