Welcome to Agora

Agora recognises that human societies in the twenty first century face particular challenges. We need to develop ways of life that are not only just in terms of human relationships and properly concern our well-being, but which are also much more sensitive to our impact on the earth and its ecosystems.

Agora works to promote active citizenship through social innovation, developing initiatives that, through their very existence, encourage reflection on primary areas of culture such as economies and exchange, communities and governance, appropriate technologies, and beliefs and values.

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Community Food Centre report now published

We are pleased to report the completion of our feasibility study into the development of a community food centre network in Bristol.

The report can be found here

A fuller report with financial detail is available – please apply through the contact us section of this website.

Here is a brief summary.

Project Agora has undertaken a six month research project to examine and develop proposals for an innovation in food aid provision in the city of Bristol, UK. We conclude that there is the potential to develop a community food centre network that will significantly augment current provision in the city for vulnerable people and people in crisis. This network will not address food poverty as a standalone issue, but actively engage with the complex personal situations of the most vulnerable people, with their associated range of public health and other needs, through the development of a local community of health and well-being.

Each community food centre will offer a weekly gathering of a diverse group of people around a meal and a programme of activities focused on food. People in need of food aid will be referred to this meeting by agencies and by means of both peer and self-referral. The gathering will include people who are buying food as well as those receiving food aid and the food will be distributed without making any distinctions between these two types of recipients so as to preserve dignity and self-worth amongst those in crisis. The programme of activities will be based on a ‘popular education’ model that encourages a grass roots re-imagining of society with associated training in life skills such as cooking, growing, making and repairing and a process of asset-based community development with an interest in meeting the needs of isolated local people.

There will be five neighbourhood community food centres, situated in areas of multiple disadvantage and most will function within existing community centres. One central community food centre will be purchased, largely by means of a community share offer and additionally function  to process and distribute foods to the neighbourhood centres as providing a full suite of facilities and business advice to a set of food-related businesses. We will also develop a number of land-based community food centres, hosted by existing growing projects in and around the city, where vulnerable people meet in an outdoor location and join in growing and harvesting food. We will encourage volunteering at every level of the network with associated training and accreditation.

The approach will be based on a clear commitment to working for a sustainable, earth-friendly city and will thereby source food from local and ethical producers and will not use supermarket waste. Our education programme will encourage mutual understanding, justice and transparency throughout the food chain, beginning with food’s origins in the natural world.

Our business model is based on transformation of the core business of Real Economy Co-operative, which sources food from local suppliers and delivers food to food clubs around the city. This will be restructured with a name change and rules designed for a charitable community benefit society. The development of the community food centre network is envisaged over four years and will be funded by a mix of external grants, a community share issue and public donations.

After the four year development programme we anticipate that the network will have proved its worth to the city and become eligible for publicly funded revenue streams such as social prescribing.

This research project was funded by Awards for All

 

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