The Sustainable City Awards celebrate the organisations and individuals who are driving change for a green and thriving London. In this 5 Minute GAP, Global Action Plan trustee Jennette Arnold speaks to the winner of The Samantha Heath Award for London's Changemaker of the Year 2022, Rachel Ledwith, on her work with the Felix Project.
"We Share Freely". The change we want to see in the world is bigger than we are. So, we're sharing our knowledge, resources and ideas to help more people and organisations take steps forward towards our vision of a green and thriving planet, where everyone can enjoy happy and healthy lives within the Earth's limits.
As part of this, we're launching our new "5 Minute GAP" series, a collection of five minute conversations that will share how we work and what we're working on. We'll talk about what we're trying to achieve and why, how we function as an organisation, and the thinking behind our plans and strategy.
We'll be regularly sharing these conversations, which will feature different members of our team and trustee board, as well as external experts.
We hope you enjoy listening in to our chats, getting to know our team and finding out what makes us who we are.
Audio only version:
If you prefer to read rather than watch, the transcription is here:
Jennette: Oh, Rachel, can I, can I just say how thrilled we were? You know, the judges and I, when we were going through the applications, you know, they were all amazing, as you can imagine, because you can see the three commended. And then there was, like, this silence and this. Wow. When we were flipping through yours and we kept saying, did she do all this? And where's the evidence? There's the evidence. Wow. How did she get 32 boroughs? I mean, how do you grow something like this? You know, and it's it keeps growing, you know? And we were just bowled over, and I just kept saying, oh, this is just so Samantha. It's so... that for me sealed it.
And it seems to me that you embody that spirit and the work that you have done because you must bring that with you always like: here is an issue. How am I going to solve it? And I just wanted to for you to share with us, share me the same wow moments for you.
Rachel: I think it's really difficult to think about the wow moments because it just kind of happens, you know? But I guess it kind of comes from that mentality...I'm very action orientated. If there's a problem I want to solve it. So I've always been thinking about, well, it doesn't matter what the problem is, but how can we fix it? And it just seemed to make so much sense to me that we had three incredible organisations: Fairshare, Felix and City Harvest, we were all doing surplus food redistribution, but now we had this unprecedented demand for people needing help. And it just made sense to me that we all came together and took areas of London on and but then had real cooperation and collaboration. So that was one part of it.
And then I thought, Well, OK, so I've got these three amazing organisations on board, I now need somewhere to send all that food and some place for that to be coordinated. And the London Boroughs Food Group had always been a good active group. And so I reached out to the GLA and sort of said to them, Look, can you help me get the 32 boroughs involved? I've got the three largest food distribution organisations ready to go. And they were like, Yeah, let's do it, you know.
And whilst, you know, the idea came from me and I was the catalyst it's the fact that everyone just went, Yes, let's do it. And I think, I think that's the incredible
wow moment is everyone just got on board and everyone said, this is the right thing to do. It's the best thing we can do in the current situation.
Jennette: And do you know a lot of projects that come through and they say, Oh, we wish we could. We'd like to reach those groups that are so-called hard to reach. But there was none of that with you because you were working with organisations who were, if you like, out there in these spaces that other organisations don't work in. So you were able to actually reach them and deliver that the food that they needed.
Rachel: Yeah, I mean, it's just phenomenal. Prior to the pandemic, all of us were working with and supporting grassroots organisations, and we know the value that they bring because they're embedded in their communities. They understand their communities, they live in their communities. They've often had lived experience. So there is no one better to tell you what a community needs than the community itself. And we've always felt that listening to what a community needs is really, really important because then you are working with them to solve solutions rather than doing things to them that they may not need.
And so, you know, despite the pandemic, seeing a lot of those grassroots organisations have to close or completely change their service offering overnight. Everyone, that I think was involved in that sector reached out to find, okay, my organisation isn't operating anymore, where can I go to another organisation? And that was the thing is, and it's really how we see our position now and continuing is you know, we've got access to this incredible grassroots organisations that know and understand London and what London needs to thrive.
We've got local authorities that are doing the best that they can with the money that they've got to try and support people in their communities. But they're one step removed and so, you know, food is such a catalyst. Food is such an enabler. You know, if you think about it, we all go round to our friends' houses and have a cup of tea and you might have a biscuit or you say come round for dinner or can we go out for a drink? Just that social interaction is so, so important. And a lot of that had gone, but we were still able to use food as a way to connect.
And I think, I think what was really fascinating was the number of local authorities that sort of came to us and said we had no idea that there was the level
of need within our boroughs that existed prior to the pandemic that's now been revealed, but also just the incredible amount of work and organisations that are supporting those communities.