How community engagement opened my eyes and brought new collaborations for my business
Community engagement is all about empowering local people to drive positive change for their local area. I’ve been part of the small leadership team for the Miracles charity project Feed London since December 2020, and it is a brilliant example of local people and businesses coming together to raise money for a worthy cause.
As a charity project, Feed London is reliant on the support of the local community and engaging the right people has been a critical part of my role as a trustee and fundraiser.
Many businesses use community engagement in their marketing strategy. Though rather than local people, their community is made up of those with a shared interest or need for a product. In this way, businesses can focus on building up their ideal target audience by nurturing a community and appealing to them specifically.
Let’s look at Feed London as an example of community engagement and what the project means to me.
What is Feed London?
The school holidays is a time when many families are stretched to breaking point, but Christmas 2020 was even more challenging than most. Feed London was launched by the charity Miracles in December 2020 to meet the huge spike in poverty caused by the pandemic and lockdown.
Over a third of London’s children are living in poverty – that’s over 700,000 children – as many as Scotland and Wales combined.
COVID-19 has devastated their lives – during the last lockdown 35% missed at least one meal per day and went three days without eating any fresh vegetables or fruit. 400,000 face hunger over the holidays.
The idea of providing food boxes at the start of the school holidays came out of conversations with our community referral partners, as well as discussion with families we were already supporting through our food voucher scheme. We also looked at recent research on the pandemic’s impact on children’s access to food.
Many people had lost their jobs, children no longer had access to school meals and available state benefits represented just a fraction of what people needed to survive.
We identified the need to provide support at the start of the school holidays. Our first Christmas holiday initiative, delivered within weeks of launching, reached over 280 children and their families, all targeted at the five London boroughs with the highest rates of child poverty. Each family received a Feed London Christmas Food Box packed with fresh food and tasty recipes, kids activity sets, hygiene products and lots of treats, to last the family at least 7 days. This was not food aid, we were delivering boxes of hope, a way of bringing the family some relief and some joy in the collaborative roles of preparing a healthy meal and eating well together.
The impact of community engagement
The Feed London message to fight poverty by feeding children has spread across London and touched the hearts of many people I come into contact with. This branding sends a clear message about our mission which helps people to understand immediately what they are supporting. It also brought me closer to people within my own networking community, far too many to name but who have contributed in so many ways.
Fundraising efforts like theirs as well as regular donations really do add up. By networking and engaging with people who connect with Feed London’s message, we have been able to provide 3,024 meals last summer alone.
It all comes down to community engagement.
What Feed London means to me
So many families experiencing extreme food poverty deserve this support and it is my pleasure to take the best of my marketing and communication skills and use them in a way that helps my community. We believe that no child deserves to go hungry.
We want to give families their Christmas back with a wonderful Feed London delivery full of ingredients for cupboard essentials, fresh ingredients for at least 7 family meals including Christmas day, recipes, treats for the kids and so much more... YOU CAN HELP, donate or buy a gifting certificate at FEED LONDON.