Empowering experts by experience

"When you are hungry, you get angry, anger changes behaviour. If I share my experiences, then others can share theirs and it takes a weight of their shoulders."


Food Power is supporting alliances to empower those with lived experience of food poverty to become experts by experience. We believe those who have faced the adversities of food poverty at the grassroots have expertise which can help food alliances to flourish. By listening to the insights of those that know what works and doesn’t work in their everyday lives, food poverty alliance can better develop long term, sustainable solutions to food poverty.

When included in strategic-decision making, people who have experienced food poverty can contribute unique perspectives and assets, becoming involved beyond short term engagement as ‘service users’ or ‘participants’. Whether managing on a tight budget, making difficult decisions on purchasing food or fuel, or knowing when and where to get preferred food, those living through adversities are resilient and resourceful.

Food Power aims to support the good work already happening around the UK in this area to ensure it is sustainable, helping experts by experience become embedded at a strategic level for the long term, able to influence projects, policy and services at locally and nationally.  We will be encouraging more alliances to start exploring ways in which they can start to empower those with lived experience, whether it’s in the oversight and scrutiny of the alliance, facilitating their own activities or in the development of a food poverty action plan. We will be working in partnership with experts by experience to co-design methodology and tools which can allow for meaningful involvement, reflecting on successes and challenges to adapt approaches for different demographics and geography.

Food poverty alliances can take action by:

  • Involving experts by experience not only at the delivery level of work but in the strategy and governance of the wider alliance, and in the co-design, delivery, implementation and evaluation of activity and/or interventions as well. This could include forming an experts by experience steering group or supporting those with lived experience to facilitate workshops with their peers.
  • Equipping and supporting experts by experience to talk about food poverty publicly at events, conferences, workshops and in the media, at both a local and national level. This could include setting up a forum in which individuals can share their thoughts and feelings with decision makers locally or making a short film about people's experiences.
  • Listening to how those with lived experience of food poverty want to be involved, being flexible and taking steps to address barriers to participation, for example by ensuring accessible venues, events are at appropriate times of the day, paying travel, providing refreshments and offering childcare where appropriate.

Contact Ben Pearson to learn more about Food Power's work in this area.

Listen to our webinar on empowering experts by experience



Food Power
C/o Sustain
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244-254 Cambridge Heath Road
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0203 5596 777

Food Power is a project of Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming.

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