Foodbank Histories is a collaborative community project we have been involved in alongside Northern Cultural Projects and the Newcastle West End Foodbank. Since early 2018, we have conducted oral history interviews with foodbank users and volunteers, and with supporters connected to the NUFC Fans Foodbank group. In January 2020, we received funding from the UKRI Quality-related Research Strategic Priorities Fund (QR-SPF) for a further three months of Foodbank Histories work. THe foodbank fundraising page is available here.
Hepworth, Jack, Alison Atkinson-Phillips, Silvie Fisch, and Graham Smith. "'I was not aware of hardship': Foodbank histories from North-East England." Public History Review 26 (2019): 1.
Atkinson-Phillips, Alison, Silvie Fisch, Jack Hepworth and Graham Smith. "Foodbank Histories: solidarity and mutual aid in the past and the present." History and Policy (2020) Available online: http://www.historyandpolicy.org/policy-papers/papers/foodbank-histori es-solidarity-and-mutual-aid-in-the-past-ad-the-present
Atkinson-Phillips, Alison, Silvie Fisch and Jack Hepworth. "Foodbank Histories: Experiences of place and loss at Newcastle West End Foodbank ." North East History 51 (2020).
Foodbank Histories Exhibition
Our interviews with foodbank users and volunteers featured in an exhibtion as part of the national Being Human festival of the humanities. Newcastle West End Foodbank came to fame when it appeared in the Ken Loach film I, Daniel Blake and two of the film's stars, David John and Sharon Percy were present to open the exhibition. The interviews and reports have since been included in a Guardian podcast Poverty in Britain: a social calamity and a co-written journal article has also been published under the title “’I was not aware of the hardship’: Foodbank Histories from North-East England”, Public History Review vol 26, 2019. Our recommendations have been incorporated into the Newcastle West End Foodbank’s Strategic Plan for 2019-2021.
(Above launch photo with thanks to Jessica Watson.)
Placements and Workshops
In 2019, we received funding from Newcastle University’s Social Justice Fund for a short-term placement for (then) PhD student Jack Hepworth and a series of creative workshops. These workshops, which were led by Silvie Fisch in her role as director of Northern Cultural Projects and with the Time Bandits, used a ‘heritage’ food experience to facilitate conversations about food security with clients and volunteers. In May 2019, materials generated from these workshops were published as Canny Cooks, a small cookbook that included some of the recipes and stories of Foodbank clients, which was launched as part of Newcastle University’s external Vision day. Co-produced by foodbank clients, Canny Cooks challenges prevailing myths around foodbank users’ lack of knowledge and ability around food preparation.
Live Youth Theatre
Another exciting development is our relationship with Live Youth Theatre. A twelve-minute performance called ‘Fed Up’ was created from research into food poverty, first shown as a contribution to ‘City of Dreams’, a ten-year project aiming to improve the life chances of children and young people in Newcastle and Gateshead. With support from Newcastle University’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, the piece was taken into the streets of Newcastle. A sound installation using interview excerpts was produced by Matthew Tuckey and introduced the performance. Live Youth Theatre has now made food poverty a long-term theme.
One of Live Youth Theatre’s monologues touches on the relevance of historical research for today’s society.
"The past. You remember the past? You remember how we learned from it, or how we’re forced to repeat it?”
Food poverty has a past. We will continue to study foodbank use in its historical and social context, to build a bridge from the past, along a long, rocky road, to a future where memories of food poverty will have become minor matters in people’s personal histories.
Last modified: Fri, 03 Sep 2021 21:43:11 BST