Food poverty can’t be tackled alone

The University of Northampton has been appointed to lead an evaluation into the effectiveness of a collaborative and multidisciplinary food and poverty programme based in the town.

The project is funded by the Big Lottery Fund’s ‘Help Through Crisis’ fund.

Natasha Bayes, researcher and graduate of the university’s Masters in Public Health course whose dissertation focused on people’s experiences of food poverty, has commenced the evaluation in collaboration with co-lead Dr Roz Collings (Senior Lecturer). The findings of the evaluation will be reported in late 2021.

The HUB partnership was created in June 2016 to look at what interventions work best to help people facing hardship crisis. These included:

  • Access to the food aid
  • Advice and advocacy from local partnerships such as Citizens Advice Bureau
  • Cookery courses, including information about budget shopping and reducing food waste
  • Creative workshops designed to help services users, or guests, ‘make, do and mend’
  • A money course to help guests devise a manageable budget and learn how to save.

“The multidisciplinary services provided through the HUB partnership is of huge importance to people facing hardship crisis. It’s therefore important that we understand the effectiveness of the project in meeting its outcomes in supporting people facing socio-economic hardship to change their circumstances.” Natasha commented.

The HUB partnership is led by Northampton food charity Re:store, in collaboration with the Springs Family CentreNorthampton Community Foundation and the Central and East Northamptonshire Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

The first stage looks at reviewing the data collection tools designed to identify guests’ socio-economic circumstances and how they can be supported through the services.


For the second work stream, the research team will interview guests to find out if and how using the services has impacted them (such as their health and well being, life skills, employment status and access to crisis provision).

“We’ve been proceeding at a great pace with our Hub partners, but to ensure the future success of the programme, we need an objective, in-depth look at what works, why and what our guests feel about the services we provide for them. At the end of the day, it’s their views that matter so we will be working with Natasha and her team on this evaluation.” Anya Willis, Director of Re:store in Northampton.

Researchers will speak with ‘Community Champions’ (guests who have benefitted from the services and promote these to new people) to see how this role can be further used to encourage life changes in guests.

They will also survey stakeholders to see how the partnership has worked and what changes are needed to make it work better in the future.

The evaluation will be rounded off with visits to key project partners to identify what is working and what can be improved.