“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” (Helen Keller): Our hopes for ENUF

By Katy Gordon

The growing body of research on food poverty in the UK is, I suspect, underpinned by both horror at its existence and an appetite for change. Some researchers seek to represent the experiences of people living in poverty and the views of those working in the field, often at the grass roots community level. Whilst others investigate the drivers and, accordingly, the necessary interventions which are most often located at a policy level. Food poverty is therefore, and necessarily so, a ‘field’ of many voices and this is why I am delighted to join the small team at ENUF as knowledge exchange coordinator.  As I embark on my post I took time to reflect on some of the things that I, and the rest of the team, hope to achieve through building the ENUF network.

Recently I went to an event on food insecurity measurement, attended by researchers, policy makers and practitioners. The Chair, in summing up at the end of the day, said “we are stronger together” and this really resonated with the aims of ENUF. We hope that, through our website, workshops and biennial conference we provide an opportunity for people to make connections, share knowledge and exchange ideas, ultimately strengthening the community of people seeking change to tackle food poverty.  To do so, we require a community that is inclusive of the wide range of people with knowledge and experience of food poverty, not only researchers but also people working at the coalface and those with a direct route to policy. If you would like to be part of this network sign up here.

Academic research publishing timelines can be lengthy yet, food poverty is a pressing social problem. We hope the ENUF website will provide a platform for early dissemination of evidence. For this reason, researchers seeking an outlet for timely publication can submit a ‘Research Highlight’, a short and focused summary of their research, accessible to a highly targeted and engaged audience. As well as an opportunity for timely publication, it will allow ‘end-users’ access to research which they may otherwise not see. We hope that, collectively, the website will host the most up to date research on food poverty in the UK.

Finally, we are looking forward to hosting the 2nd UK conference on Food and Poverty, following the inaugural conference in April 2018. Previous attendees said “As a coordinator of the food project of a small third sector organisation it was eye opening to hear about some of the research in this area” and “The conference genuinely manifested into a critical moment/turning point to take stock and properly consider how researchers, frontline organisations, public sector staff and campaigners can work together for food security for all in the UK.” We genuinely hope this to be the case and will build on this momentum in June 2020. To do so we have focussed this year’s programme on highlighting the evidence for change, but also on how and what research evidence can be change-making. Abstract submission is now open and we hope to meet you there!

As we look forward to a busy year ahead our underlying mission continues to drive us, contributing to change-making research that informs action towards tackling food poverty in the UK. I hope that the opening quote in this blog post will encourage you to participate in the network and understand what we are trying to achieve: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”.