After successfully launching the ‘Tools for Food Stories’ toolkit at the Food Power Conference back in June we’ve had lots of positive feedback from food alliances across the UK. Keen to share them further, especially with those with lived experience of food poverty & individuals working at a grassroots level we held a residential in Scarborough over a sunny August weekend. Several of those who co-​designed the tools in Newcastle attended & helped to facilitate the workshop in which they were shared. We explored how the tools could be used for activism & campaigning, alongside capturing stories & opening up conversations about access & affordability to food.

One attendee said‘I enjoyed most the part with the Talking Food Card Deck and the local food cards, really easy to use and a good ice breaker with both children and adults.’

A day earlier myself & Penny, one of the co-​designers from Newcastle visited Imagination Lab to co-​design a tool which would help capture learning, structure conversations & understand peoples journeys as individuals with lived experience, or involved in activism, campaigning & food justice. The tool would be used on a trip to the US, firstly to the ‘Closing the Hunger Gap’ Conference in North Carolina, and then in New York on field visits with Why Hunger.

With just four of us & little under two hours a tool had emerged, a colourful fold out caterpillar, playful yet practical, and something that could neatly sit in the back of our notebooks. 

The tool became so much more than just something to capture learning over in the US, alliances so the prototype & started to think about how it could be used to evaluate expert by experience journeys, along with a whole host of other ideas.

Whilst in the US both myself, Heather & Penny had a copy of the tool, it was very different to anything we’d ever designed or used with Leapfrog prior but so adaptable, the ‘friendly caterpillar’ who gently reminded us amongst all the activity & excitement of the trip what we were there to capture & learn. Others attending the conference were excited too by the tool & I’m sure it will go onto be used internationally in a range of contexts.

I’m excited to see how & where the tools continue to be used, and how I can continue to adapt them to overcome challenges & enhance my work.

Ben Pearson, Empowerment Officer for Food Power