Tackling food and fuel insecurity

Challenge sponsor

Faith in Community Dundee is a small anti-poverty charity who, through a community development approach and partnering with multiple agencies across Dundee, support faith projects to tackle poverty and inequality in our poorest communities.

We also developed the Wonder Box, a heat retention cooking initiative that tackles fuel poverty and builds individual and project capacity. The Wonder Box is like a beanbag with a lid. Once food has come to a boil on the cooker, the pot can be placed inside the Wonder Box and it keeps cooking for the next 1-2 hours with no additional fuel costs. Faith in Community Dundee believes that this approach can challenge fuel poverty, nutritional deficits and improve quality of life for people in Scotland’s poorest communities, while addressing the environmental impact of fossil fuel use.

The Challenge

As part of our work at Faith in Community Dundee, we see a number of people in poverty, suffering from inequality and facing insecurity around food and fuel for various different reasons.

From research we conducted with the Dundee Fairness Commission, ‘Gathering Experiences of Poverty in Dundee’, we identified that almost half of the 147 people we interviewed faced issued issues with food, with almost half of those receiving no help. Just over 40% of the 147 people faced issues with heating, with 59% of those people receiving no help.

Below is an example of someone’s experience

Jenny – Single female on Job Seekers Allowance

After losing her job having, been on a temporary contract, Jenny is now on Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA), receiving £292.40 a month. She receives housing benefit, but because she rents a single bedroom flat from a private landlord, her benefits are capped and therefore she has to pay £20 a month out of her JSA. She doesn’t qualify for any other benefits.

During a one month period, these are Jenny’s essential outgoings:

  • Rent = £20
  • Council tax = £21
  • Gas/electric = £45 (card metre – this cost also goes up over winter)
  • Special Non-Prescription skin crème for her eczema = £10
  • Phone/internet = £30

 She has £166.40 (£5.55 a day) to cover…

  • Food – £
  • Toiletries – £Household – £
  • Sanitary products – £
  • Transportation – £
  • Clothing – £
  • What else??? – £

Unfortunately, her oven has also broken beyond repair and she doesn’t have any savings to replace it.

What would you do in this situation?

What do you think could be done to tackle food and fuel insecurity?

Can the wonder box be adapted to be more effective?