This participatory workshop followed on from two previous successful ESRC events, where data collection has confirmed the importance of participatory social food events to engage marginalised groups in wellbeing discourse.
This bespoke focused workshop brought together key local decision (and policy) makers and selected service users (those already engaged in food activities) with the FLM* research team to exchange knowledge around the power of food to shape service (re)design. Using our recently collected data (from Food inventory, Appreciative Inquiry interviews and draft ‘Asset based framework’) we facilitated transformative and ‘co-creative’ food discussions to enable the decision-making process. Our ultimate ambition was to ask each represented service to make an actual commitment/pledge on the day to adopt proposed FLM recommendations and develop/strengthen food policy in their centre(s). This enhanced the social impact of the project as well as promoting social sustainability and justice for service users.
* The FLM research project has demonstrated how food can be an important topic for debate, a ‘lifestyle motivator’ and that creative food activities can be used to empower and engage ‘harder-to-reach’ audiences, providing them with a voice to express their views which can then be used as a catalyst for change ('Engaging homeless individuals in discussion about their food experiences to optimise wellbeing: A pilot study' Health Education Journal, see Pettinger et al 2017). This work promotes the utility of creative approaches to support public engagement in wellbeing discourse. It also offers insight into how food-based community development can help to enhance social, cultural and human capital.