The Brighton and Hove Food Partnership, (BHFP) is a not-for-profit organisation that supports people to eat a healthy diet, learn how to cook, how to grow their own food, and waste less. They are involved across all areas of the food system within Brighton and Hove and are one of four community partners working to support the Food Systems Equality project [FoodSEqual] – ‘Co-production of healthy, sustainable food systems for disadvantaged communities The role of a community partner is to use their existing contacts, reputability, knowledge, and skills to facilitate the community research element of FoodSEqual. Each partner in Reading (Whitley), Brighton & Hove, Plymouth, and Tower Hamlets (East London) recruited and trained several local Community Researchers who care deeply about food, environment, and inequality. These researchers are involved in tests, workshops, and conversations to gather data and listen to the stories, opinions, needs and wants of community members in less affluent areas of their towns or cities. Building trust, lending a listening ear, and maintaining cultural sensitivity are some of the key values they must demonstrate to their participants. 

In October 2022, BHFP held a Cookery and Connection Day’ networking event to bring Community Researchers and other partners in the FoodSEqual project together. The aim was to meet colleagues from across the project, including business partners and academics from the partnering universities, who would like to learn more about the community research element in practice, deepen understanding, share learning  and build relationships that will be beneficial and strengthen the work of FoodSEqual moving forward.  


The event began with an upon arrival exercise where people wrote down ‘One thing I would like to get out of today’. Some of the responses included connecting with fellow colleagues as well as learning more about the project so far. 

BHFP cook and connect welcome exercise
BHFP cook and connect upon arrival welcome exercise. Credit: Shelley Taylor

Vic Borrill, Director, BHFP gave a presentation which included an overview of the organisation’s work. Questions afterwards spanned from how to set up a community compost scheme, to how to work effectively with Local Authorities.  


A slide from Vic’s presentation talking about BHFP’s approach in their organisation. Credit Vic Borrill 
A slide from Vic’s presentation talking about BHFP’s approach in their organisation. Credit Vic Borrill

Professor Carol WagstaffFoodSEqual Principal Investigator – presented a recap of the vision and aims of FoodSEqual, an update on the work so far and key findings from the project’s communities to date   

The Cookery class – “Connecting through food”

BHFP believes in the power of connecting over food, so in line with this, the group were invited to prepare lunch together in the partnership’s community kitchen . This relaxed setting encouraged dialogue between colleagues many of whom had not actually met before. It also modelled how cooking and or eating food together can be a powerful catalyst for meaningful conversations across disciplines and between various communities.  

FoodSEqual colleagues dishing their food at the BHFP Community kitchen
FoodSEqual colleagues plating up salad and breaking bread at the BHFP Community kitchen. Credit: Sara Fernee

After lunch, Shelley Taylor – Research and Policy Coordinator – BHFP and Brighton and Hove Community Researchers; Sara Fernee, Amanda Lucas, and Holly Cranfield presented their findings to the group. Their presentations outlined the population and social-economic diversity of Brighton and Hove, the types of community-based activities that they have organised over the last ten months to support FoodSEqual and an excellent video that illustrated some of the work conducted at local sites involving community members connecting with the growing of crops. These have included shopping basket discussion workshops, participatory observations during a series of visits to Rock farm in Pulborough. This acted as a springboard for fruitful discussions around research techniques, diversity and inclusion, language use and much more.  

Conversations flowing among the colleagues at the BHFP community kitchen
Conversations flowing among the colleagues. Credit: Shelley Taylor     

The day was a great success and provided the opportunity for networking, sharing ideas and experiences and the ongoing work by BHFP to support FoodSEqual by engaging the local communities. The FoodSEqual project team gained a really good understanding of the work of BHFP and how it supports the local community to improve access to food that is healthy, affordable, and sustainable. It is supporting FoodSEqual by putting the community at the heart of the FoodSEqual project so that local people can lead change as well as supporting connection between communities and the people that supply their food.  

Shelley Taylor – Research and Policy Coordinator – Brighton and Hove Food Partnership

Ololade Popoola – Online Project Support – FoodSEqual