GMPA’s Food Poverty Programme Update, and Introducing Sian Mullen
By Tom Skinner
Addressing the underlying causes of food poverty has been a major focus of GMPA’s work over the last three years. Many of you have contributed to it, including through the Greater Manchester Food Poverty Alliance project which co-produced the GM Food Poverty Action Plan, published last year.
Since then, we have pushed for many of the actions in the plan to happen. This includes:
- The GM Combined Authority collating information about poverty levels, access to food, Healthy Start voucher uptake and more, and sharing this with Local Authorities.
- A greater recognition of the Combined and Local Authorities’ roles in reducing poverty as a means of tackling food poverty, and elected members and officers being tasked with this.
- Increasingly joined up thinking about food provision during the school holidays. (Although we eventually want to reach a state where the need for charitable food aid is significantly reduced.)
- More recently we have been very involved in helping to support and shape GM’s response to Covid-19, particularly addressing the extra impact that the pandemic has had on people in poverty.
To build on this work we recently recruited to a new post – Food Poverty Programme Coordinator – that will focus on implementing the action plan and support measures that address the underlying causes of food poverty. This work will include piloting place-based partnership approaches to reducing food poverty in different localities across Greater Manchester. We were delighted to have appointed Sian Mullen to the role.
Sian has worked in the development and humanitarian sectors both in the UK and abroad for many years. She is passionate about working to alleviate poverty to create a more equal society, and is excited to be focusing on reducing food poverty in Greater Manchester.
Sian has lived in Manchester since 2012 when she came to complete her PhD in Humanitarianism.
Prior to joining GMPA she worked as a programme manager with Oxfam, coordinating their poverty alleviation programme across Greater Manchester. She has also been an active volunteer with several charities involved in food provision including during the Covid-19 response.
At GMPA we are excited about working with Sian and many of our partners over the coming years as we work towards our vision of a Greater Manchester free from poverty. Linked to this is the need for national action on food poverty. Part one of the National Food Strategy, an independent review supported by a team of experts across the food system, was published last month. You can read GMPA’s comments in response to the strategy in a separate article on the news page.