UCL Institute for Global Prosperity


IGP and charity Sustain hold workshop with London councils on food access for asylum seekers

2 February 2024

IGP researchers are working with London councils to develop more inclusive food systems at the local level.

food charity

In January, IGP researchers led by Dr Hanna Baumann held a workshop with leading food charity Sustain, which brought together 40 representatives of London councils and voluntary sector organisations as well as the Greater London Authority.

Speakers included representatives from Jesuit Refugee Service and Life Seekers Aid who talked about a research project on asylum seekers’ access to food in asylum hotels and dispersed accommodation, as well as on asylum seekers who have fallen into destitution. Key obstacles identified included the fact that the monthly asylum support payment is not sufficient to cover nutritional needs, the low quality and hygiene standards of food provided in accommodation, and the lack of facilities required for safe infant feeding.

An asylum seeker and a refugee shared their personal experience eating food in asylum accommodation. They described it as often insufficient and inappropriate, to the degree that they lost significant amounts of weight and developed health problems.

Local authority representatives then shared encouraging case studies of initiatives to overcome these significant barriers to access, including men’s cooking clubs, community kitchens with wraparound support, and improved accountability mechanisms for the private providers of asylum accommodation and meals.

Participants discussed what steps they could take to better support vulnerable residents by ensuring their basic nutritional needs are met. The work will feed into a forthcoming report outlining research findings and best practices for local authorities.

The IGP is currently building a number of collaborations with London councils to work with communities to develop more inclusive food systems at the local level.

For more information, contact Dr Hanna Baumann at h.baumann@ucl.ac.uk

For more information on Sustain’s work visit their website and follow @foodpoverty_uk.