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What's next for the Bristol Local Food Fund?

Updated: Jul 5, 2022

Bristol Local Food Fund update - what’s been happening, and what's coming next?

With almost 14% of households experiencing food insecurity nationally in recent months, the Bristol Local Food Fund is more needed than ever. Here’s our update on where we are, and what’s happening next as we recruit our Citizens Panel

It’s been 6 months since the Bristol Local Food Fund crowdfunder campaign ended, and we know we've been a bit quiet on the communications front, so we’re ramping back up to keep you updated on our activities.

The crowdfunder campaign was a big success but also took a big toll on the team that did it. A small team of dedicated individuals, volunteering remotely, came together to build and deliver a campaign across Bristol through digital, press and print media for a completely new concept.

The campaign was supported well by our partners, including Bristol City Council, Burges Salmon, Quartet Community Foundation, Feeding Bristol and Bristol Food Network. 51 local independent businesses offered 200 different awards for pledgees, as well amplifying the campaign to people across Bristol.

The result? We think that the £57K raised was a great achievement and huge thanks go to all our partners that helped make that happen - and to our 516 supporters who donated.

Developing the next phase of the project has taken longer than expected. We lost capacity in our team when some volunteers moved on to exciting new jobs and when core volunteers needed to take a step back due to mental ill health caused by stress. We were also keen to take enough time to design the next phase so that BLFF can be as effective as possible at handing decision-making power to our panel of people with lived experience of food insecurity. Now we’ve taken some time to regroup and plan the next steps and we’re back with a plan and renewed energy, knowing that the Bristol Local Food Fund is, sadly, needed now more than ever.

The cost of living crisis is devastating for millions of families

Indeed, the need for major support to tackle food insecurity has grown to levels even higher than the peak of the first lockdown. Far more than the BLFF will ever be able to provide on its own.

This cost of living crisis is driven by the enormous global energy price rise, and exacerbated by rapidly rising inflation and lack of appropriate support. And it’s not just forcing millions of people to choose between ‘heating and eating’ - it’s leaving many unable to do either.

Levels of food insecurity are rapidly rising to astoundingly high levels. According to The Food Foundation’s most recent report, around 7.3 million adults, and 2.6 million children - that’s 13.8% of households nationally - experienced food insecurity in the month of April 2022.

What’s next for the Bristol Local Food Fund?

We’ve been busy working with our partners, discussing how best to create and run the Citizens Panel. This group of people will decide how this funding is allocated to community food groups across the city.

The Citizen’s Panel is a central part of the Bristol Local Food Fund. Overwhelmingly in the world of grant-giving, those who design, decide and manage how grant funding is awarded have little to no personal experience of the problems that funding aims to help solve. We want to change how that works, and show why its important to include people with lived experience in decision-making around the solutions.

To make sure the fund truly serves people in the city who are most in need, BLFF is recruiting a Citizens Panel, made up of people with lived experience of food insecurity, to help design the fund. The Panel members will be representative of the diverse areas and communities of Bristol, especially those which are most impacted by food insecurity. This kind of approach is called Participatory Grantmaking (PGM), and it's a worldwide movement:

The panel members will be paid (or remunerated) for their time and expertise at above the rate of the Real Living Wage and will be professionally facilitated and supported through the design process.

Working closely with two of our key partners, Quartet Community Foundation and Feeding Bristol, we will recruit the Citizens Panel, and begin the Panel sessions soon after. Once the Panel have completed their work, the Bristol Local Food Fund will open for applications to community food projects. We expect this to happen in Autumn 2022, by which time we’ll also have plans to relaunch our fundraising activities to raise money for the next round.

We’re also thinking about the next fundraising activities for BLFF, and we’re interested in exploring partnerships with businesses - including Bristol’s food businesses - developing an individual donor strategy, and another major crowdfunder. If you’d like to explore any of these ideas with us please get in touch.

We’ll recruit Citizens Panel members through Bristol City Council’s Community Champions, people who are at the heart of their communities and well-connected to the key local issues. We'll aim to recruit Panel members that representative of the groups and geographies across Bristol that experience food insecurity most severely, including social housing residents, single parents, ethnic minorities and living in areas of high economic deprivation.

How can you support BLFF?

Our crowdfunder is still open for donations: and you can also become a regular supporter when you donate.

Stay up to date with the latest on recruitment for the Citizens Panel and our next steps by following us on social media and signing up to our newsletter.

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