Who can join IFAN?
IFAN is open to food aid providers that aren't happy about the institutionalisation of food aid in the UK and want to see wider systemic change so that the number of people using food aid is radically reduced. Any food aid provider that agrees and wants to add to the voice for national change is welcome to join.
Participation in IFAN is open to all food aid providers who share its vision, values and principles, but on the understanding that participation in the network by projects/organisations which are members or franchisees of, or affiliated to, other organisations is subject to these organisations/projects acting as individual entities rather than as representatives of their ‘parent’ organisation.
Full membership (including voting rights) of IFAN is restricted to food aid providers that are entirely independent and that agree to abide by its values and principles.
Who is behind the development of IFAN?
The development of IFAN is co-ordinated by Steph Ellis, Seb Mayfield, Sabine Goodwin and Ren Piercey, all of whom are volunteers and are supported by IFAN's Trustees:
Dr Kayleigh Garthwaite - University of Birmingham
Is there a need for a new network?
IFAN has consulted with many food aid providers in the lead up to the launch of the network, including holding an event in Manchester in March 2016 and sending out an online survey in May 2016. Ninety-two percent of the food aid providers surveyed told us that they wanted a network for the following reasons:
Work to create a society where there is food security for all – 97.8%
Provide mutual support, and share resources, amongst food aid providers – 95.7%
Share best practice – 95.7%
Improve provision for, and access to, people in need of food aid – 93%
Campaign for change – 91.3%
Provide a forum and a collective voice for independent, grass roots food aid providers – 91.1%
Work with and promote the voices of people in need – 88.6%
Promote critical open-access research – 88.4%
One of the key reasons for wanting to launch IFAN was the concern that food aid is becoming increasingly institutionalised in the UK, with food banks and other food aid providers being relied upon to feed people. We recognise that many people who work hard to provide food aid are far from happy with this situation and are keen to have a platform to be able to voice these concerns and call for wider systemic change that eradicate the need for food aid. IFAN aims to be that platform.
Finally, the UK Food Poverty Alliance had recently formed and we felt that it was vital that the voice of independent food aid providers of all varieties should be heard at the top table.
Is food security for all a realistic aim?
The current situation needs to improve in a number of ways if we are ever going to see food security for all. We recognise that this is an aspirational goal rather than something that will happen any time soon. However, we believe that it’s important to send a bold message about the direction of travel we want to head in – if we don’t believe it can happen then it definitely won’t.
Why refer to the network as ‘independent’?
The steering group chose to include the word ‘independent’ to reflect the fact that first and foremost we are a membership organisation for local food aid groups who are independent of any national organisation.
By referring to the network as being ‘independent’ we are also demonstrating that we are prepared to take our own position on issues as and when necessary, in consultation with our members.
Is IFAN in competition with the Trussell Trust foodbank network?
IFAN is not trying to compete with any other national organisations, let alone the Trussell Trust. We recognise that many food banks have chosen to not join the Trussell Trust network for a variety of reasons but are keen to be represented at a national level. There are also lots of food aid providers that are not food banks, and therefore don’t fit into the Trussell Trust model, that would like to be part of a national network.
IFAN is in regular contact with Trussell Trust, has worked with the network on research into food bank volunteer hours and we collaborate together within the End Hunger UK coalition.
What is IFAN’s relationship to the UK Food Poverty Alliance and End Hunger UK?
IFAN is a member of the UK Food Poverty Alliance and will continue to support its work where aims and values are consistent with those of IFAN and it’s members. IFAN is also an active member of the UK Food Poverty Alliance's campaigning arm End Hunger UK and Sabine Goodwin campaigns both on food insecurity and social security issues.
How is IFAN funded?
So far, IFAN has been run on a voluntary basis. We are committed to remaining lean and not growing our operations too big, as this is in opposition to our aim of seeing the end to food aid rather than supporting the institutionalisation of it. We are currently seeking funding for our day-to-day work.
In May 2017 we received a small grant from the LUSH Community Pot to set up a new project that will enable the voices of those who live in food poverty to be heard.
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