The places in which we are born and live have a huge impact on our health. People living in affluent parts of York live for an average of eight years longer than those living in more disadvantaged districts.
Supporting local communities to take greater control over what happens in their neighbourhood can help reduce inequalities. People’s Health Trust supports communities across Great Britain through a resident-led approach, supporting residents to take action on issues that are important to them.
For the Tang Hall Community Centre, everything they do is community-led, helping ensure residents are heard, particularly in these difficult times due to the Coronavirus.
Stephen, who works at the community centre, said: “There are many challenges, with one being that residents didn’t have access to shops where they could buy healthy, affordable food. We are surrounded by takeaways and fast food shops.
“We recognise the need for food banks in society but we wanted to support people a step before they needed to turn to foodbanks, which is why we now have the food cooperative.”
The Tang Hall Food Co-Operative is a Trust funded project, which uses food to deepen community connections, expand social circles and enable skill sharing. It involves residents growing food together, has established a shop for selling and swapping produce, sharing recipes, learning cooking skills, and sharing community meals. As the physical distancing guidelines by government have made it difficult for people to shop, particularly those who are in the vulnerable categories, Tang Hall Food Co-Operative is gearing up to operate a food delivery service to support the most vulnerable in their community to access food and other supplies.
Initially, for Barry the group was a way to connect socially and he has gone on to join the steering group. He said: “My health issues mean employment is difficult. This can be isolating (and quite boring, being at home.) I initially came to the centre for some human interaction; I was blown away by the warm, welcoming atmosphere here. I wanted to give something back to the community, so I began volunteering in the co-op before joining the steering group.
“I'm pleased to work with wonderful people that have become good friends. There's always someone to chat to and I feel like a true member of the team. I like that our contributions are genuinely welcome and that, together, we make a difference; it's not just lip service.
"I find it truly rewarding to help others, as I'm a people person. It gives me a great sense of satisfaction."
Project member Jo joined the project because she wanted to become more involved in the local community.
“The food co-op looked cool, and as I found out more, I loved everything it stood for and wanted to become a part of it,” explains Jo.
I'm a mum-of-three and a part-time care-worker. I'm making a conscious effort to live a healthier lifestyle, and learning about healthier options and different ways to cook seasonal produce has been very welcome.
Through the project, Jo has learned a new set of cooking skills and an awareness of food that she believes she wouldn’t have developed elsewhere. She added: “I feel like part of the team and I love that we all get to have a say in how the co-op runs. I feel like I belong, and that we're our own little family.”
Tang Hall shows a strong sense of community that is only continuing with the new measures in place due to the virus, and are keen to get back to creating social connections as well as community support as soon as they can.
The project has been funded by People’s Health Trust with money raised through Health Lottery Yorkshire and the Humber
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