The project brought individuals and the community together for a whole year to 'Eat'
The LS14 Trust was first launched in 2009 by a group of residents working to transform the communities of Seacroft, Swarcliffe and Whinmoor. Among a range of other projects, ‘Eat’ has been one of the Trust's most recent success stories, funded by the NHS Leeds North Clinical Commissioning Group.
The premise of the project was simple; the Trust wanted to find out what would happen both on an individual and community level if they spent a whole year eating together.
Statistics for the area revealed significant challenges; from a high rate of childhood obesity, to high levels of deprivation and diabetes. However, while barriers to healthy eating existed, the Trust saw potential for change in the community.
The year-long project revolved around a calendar of community events. The Trust hosted community picnics and monthly family food clubs. There was ‘Digital Dinners’, which gave the community the chance to learn about healthy eating in different cultures, and ‘Sporty Snacks’, delivered in partnership with Streetworks Soccer, where parents and children could take part in weekly activities followed by classes in nutrition for fitness.
People really open up around food, they share experiences and stories. Eating together allows you to feel connected to othersJoanne Curtis
Following a year of eating together, the Trust found that while deprivation played a significant role in the lives of many community members, “few were content to be passive recipients of top-down change” and many had a great desire for “positive change through greater levels of participation”.
“The project let us do a lot of listening and a full year of eating with our community,” said Joanne Curtis, Community Development Manager. “People really open up around food, they share experiences and stories. Eating together allows you to feel connected to others. It allows you to feel part of the community.”
Although the project has now come to an end, there has been a lasting legacy in the community. Digital Dinners and Sporty Snacks have continued, while other new initiatives have launched; among them the Small Change Cafe, which is run by volunteers and aims to develop skills within the community, allowing volunteers to build their CVs and confidence in the workplace.