Tackling Food Insecurity Through Act Locally: Keighley 

Patterns of risk vary from place to place, community to community. Our Act Locally partnerships in Bradford act as an effective hub for communities, local businesses, and services to build an integrated, evidence-led response to local needs by working with and through schools and nurseries. 

EALC aims to help tackle childhood inequalities, improving life chances in the long term by working with schools, nurseries and colleges through connected, data-driven, place-based approaches.

The evidence from the Born in Bradford study shows how children’s learning, health and wellbeing, and economic prospects are all connected - poor health affects a child’s readiness to learn and earn, and so on. To help families facing these challenges, we have connected policy makers, residents, local service providers, and data scientists to focus on early intervention and collective action across Bradford.

A key part of this plan is our ‘Act Locally’ projects. To trial our innovative approach to improving life chances, EALC has established three convening partnerships in three areas of multiple deprivation where life chances, educational and health outcomes are significantly lower than other areas of the district. 

Built around, and led by, local schools, each partnership has brought local policy makers – from health, education, care, and policing – together with residents, front-line professionals, and members of the university research community to tackle challenges. Each partnership agreed three area priorities, key actors in each area, and identified sources of data, including lived experience. This enabled the “Act Locally” groups to provide a mandate for change from the community, and to speak as one to local commissioners and decision makers to seek resources, permissions, and support. 


The Bradford district of Keiighley is an area of multiple deprivation.


In Keighley, the Act Locally convening partnership  has prioritised food insecurity, poor diet and nutrition. School leaders are telling us that food insecurity is an issue across the Bradford district. However, this issue is particularly acute in Keighley.  The data shows Keighley to score very highly on related markers of deprivation in comparison to the rest of the UK, for example 8.2% of adults experienced hunger in 2021. Keighley also has high rates of children who have free school meals, who are nearly twice as likely to report issues around food insecurity. For example, students on free school meals are twice as likely to say they couldn’t get food they wanted because they were short on money and to say they were worried about not having enough to eat. Indeed, this is aligned with findings from work with young people earlier this year. Bradford Citizens Alliance, a coalition of organisations in the district that serve young people (led by Dixons Academies Trust), identified the “cost of living” as a priority area for pupils and students in Bradford.

Keighley Schools Together (KST), a self-organised network of local schools, took the lead on this priority. First, they worked with charitable food organisation “Rethink Food” to re-route surplus supermarket food through schools, giving families a more accessible alternative to food banks. KST then worked with the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA) to deliver data workshops in local schools, enabling pupils to analyse (and in some cases, provide their own) data and information on access to affordable and healthy food options in the community. These workshops also encouraged and allowed pupils to gain experience in data science and research as a potential career. 


The important work being done by this project is being recognised. EALC is proud to be attending the Celebrate as One: Bradford District and Craven Health and Care Partnership Awards on 19th October. Act Locally Keighley has been nominated in the Research Initiative of the year category. These awards recognise the “effective relationships and collaboration within and across disciplines, organisations, and sectors” that take place across the Bradford district. 

We are excited to have reconvened the Act Locally partnership with KST this Autumn with a Learning Symposium event taking place at Carlton Academy Keighley on 6th October. With a clearer evidence base and a mandate for action, the convening partnership shared learning from phase 1 and used data science tools such as the Priority Places for Food Index to plan ways that schools and partner organisations can better support local pupils and families experiencing food insecurity, poor diet and nutrition. 

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Kathryn Loftus.png

Kathryn Loftus
Director, Education Alliance for Life Chances

Formerly Programme Director for the Bradford Opportunity Area, Kathryn was born and educated in Bradford and has held a number of Local Authority management roles across Sheffield, Kirklees and Bradford. These roles included policy development, service delivery, and programme management, and in the last 10 years oversaw local authority organisational re-design, transformational service change and Children's Services Improvement.

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