Whitefoot and Downham Community Food + Project

Making a Difference

The Whitefoot and Downham Community Food + Project (wdcfplus) was set up to recognise and respond to local needs arising from deprivation in my ward. I was preparing for the impact of the Government’s Welfare Act on communities, particularly from benefits changes, Bedroom Tax and the oncoming Universal Credit. Our focus is primarily on the provision of food, as well as working alongside other statutory and voluntary organisations to provide a holistic approach to reducing hunger and food poverty. The secondary aim is to build community.


Over 120 people a month have benefited from our project and many visitors access more than one service from our community partners. Since we began on the 24th October 2013, five people are now in employment and approximately six people are receiving the correct benefits. Many individuals and families have joined other local training and support initiatives, such as community gardening, cooking skills classes and writing CVs. House repairs are being done through appointments with our Housing Advisors and much debt, benefits and local issue advice is given by our other partners. Also many families are no longer going hungry and a few people have begun to visit local churches, as well as want to engage with the wider community.

We have over 50 volunteers. In fact seven residents who once accessed our project are now volunteers. We have six teenagers who help us on a regular basis as well as several retired people. Many other volunteers are from different backgrounds, ages and cultures. They are all local to the area.

A majority of people come to us because they need help through a difficult time, such as being ‘sanctioned’ of their benefits. In the case of Pete, an operation on both his knees meant that he was both out of work and out of pocket for some time. He now volunteers with us as well as working part-time to give back what was given to him during his time of need. Matt is an ex-offender, long-term unemployed and a persistent drug user. He has found that volunteering for the project has encouraged him to retain a positive sense of self-worth as he now manages the most demanding section of the project’s visitor area. He even comes in early every Thursday to help with collections and stock take. He is also receiving support with setting up his own business.

I like to think that the Whitefoot and Downham Community Food + Project story is of a community building relationships and being mutually supportive. We need each other, to offer support and to help one another. Building strong communities is needed, whether it is to listen, to socialise, to give advice, support with decision making, finding employment, support with child care and so on. We also need to reduce the isolation and fear that many people really do experience.  As people we are stronger when we do things together, which I feel is why wdcfplus project has been so successful - even when winning a national award in our first year.

Janet Daby,

Chair of Whitefoot and Downham Community Food + Project,
and Local Councillor for Whitefoot Ward.