To understand more about the type of people who live in your area and who may use your food co-op you can look at statistics such as the Census and reports from organisations like the local council or primary care trust (PCT).
This section is particularly relevant for food co-ops that are being set up to improve health or to help deprived communities, for example by increasing access to affordable fruit and veg. For these types of projects, data may be useful on, for example, the incidence of diet-related diseases in the area, such as heart disease, diabetes or obesity.
You can also find general information on the type of people who live in your area, such as the age profile, whether a lot of people are in work or not and whether they have cars. You can find statistics that relate to your region, county, or city, town or village, down to particular postcodes, wards or 'super output areas' (which cover just a few streets).
What statistics you choose to look at depends on the area that your food co-op will cover. Unfortunately, although there are some national statistics about how much fruit and veg people eat and how many people have a healthy diet, there is not a lot of accurate information on this at a local level and often this is based on estimates.
Public Health Reports are produced by every local primary care trust (PCT) and should be available on local PCT websites. A list of all PCTs can be seen at: http://www.nhs.uk/servicedirectories/Pages/PrimaryCareTrustListing.aspx.
Food strategies are also produced by some local councils and PCTs and often start with a summary of the area. Search on relevant websites or phone them up to ask for details. Your local council may also have other documents that contain relevant information, such as a Community Strategy or Local Area Agreement.
It can be useful to include local statistics in funding bids and business plans.
Sources of useful statistics include:
- Community Health Profiles are produced for each local council in England.
- Neighbourhood Statistics allows you to find local data by searching via postcode.
- The Food Standards Agency publishes a number of national dietary surveys.
- This NHS Information Centre has various statistics on diet and healthy lifestyles.