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'There is still that stigma': Healthwatch Camden launch food poverty campaign

PUBLISHED: 14:28 08 May 2019 | UPDATED: 14:41 08 May 2019

A lifeafterhummus cooking session. Picture: lifeafterhummus

A lifeafterhummus cooking session. Picture: lifeafterhummus

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"The stigma of food poverty is still a reality" said one user of a Camden food bank as the borough's Healthwatch organisation launched a campaign highlighting the plight of those unable to afford their own meals.

A lifeafterhummus cooking session. Picture: lifeafterhummusA lifeafterhummus cooking session. Picture: lifeafterhummus

Working with the Felix Project, the Single Homeless Project (SHP) and a community group called Lifeafterhummus, Healthwatch Camden will be hearing from vulnerable groups and producing a report showing the scale of the issue here.

Lawrence Curtis suffered depression and relationship breakdown which led to him needing to use the foodbank run by SHP at Camden's Arlington House.

The 52-year-old, who lives just across the border in Islington, said: "It's important to point out the underlying problems behind people having to use food banks. Universal Credit just isn't always enough.

"I don't want people looking at me thinking 'how poor are you'. There is still that stigma. It's quite distressing."

Lawrence Curtis. Picture: Lawrence Curtis, Healthwatch CamdenLawrence Curtis. Picture: Lawrence Curtis, Healthwatch Camden

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The campaign includes a social media project. Healthwatch Camden surveyed people about what gets in the way of them eating a healthy diet, including cultural challenges.

Frances Hasler, Healthwatch director, said: "National policy recognises, that tackling food poverty is vital if we are to reduce health inequalities, Camden in particular has rising numbers of people and children experiencing food poverty.

"It's crucial that people's voices are heard so that their problems can be looked at, and also that the charities helping them have a say on how the national problem of food poverty can be tackled."

A lifeafterhummus cooking session. Picture: lifeafterhummusA lifeafterhummus cooking session. Picture: lifeafterhummus

Lifeafterhummus run free healthy cooking classes in Camden while the Felix Project was set up across London in memory of Felix Byam Shaw, a teenager who died of meningitis in. It distributes food to more than 200 charitable groups across the capital.

Vanessa Hemmings, from SHP, added: "With cuts to public services affecting the most vulnerable, many individuals are finding that their benefits don't cover their basic needs including the ability to afford healthy food.

"We need more support to help those in need to get access to healthy food. We also need more deliveries of free food that would otherwise go to waste so that we can help more people."

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