Data discussion: disability, food poverty and slow cookers


Chewing over the facts and looking for answers

Every month at City Bridge Trust our Data Analyst, Emma Horrigan, compiles and shares a Data Digest, based on recent, impactful reports published by charities, quangos and civil servants.

Members of the Trust team get together for an informal discussion of these reports, focusing on issues that affect London as a whole, but particularly Londoners facing disadvantages.

A smiling man, holding a box of packaged foods, in a food bank, where donated food is placed all around on shelves.

Recently the team looked at details drawn from recovery plans published by The Mayor of London and the Government, as well as Full Fact’s report on information health, the Institute for Employment’s report into stigma at work due to obesity and the Centre for Social Justice’s Disability Commission Report.

Disability issues

The first topic the team discussed was how disabled people’s outcomes always appear worse than those of other groups. We have seen this in report after report. The team were particularly shocked at the low employment levels for disabled people – and that it will take 30 years to close the pay gap between disabled and non-disabled employees unless things change.

This Disability Commission Report really highlighted the range of issues that disabled people face, and it was suggested we follow Paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson on Twitter to learn more about the issues she faces travelling around.

Food poverty

The team then discussed food poverty, following on from the obesity report and from a previous get together when we’d looked into London’s food deserts. A food desert is somewhere without good options for buying fresh fruit or vegetables and with a prevalence of junk food outlets.

We discussed a wide range of factors around food and obesity, recognising that calorie labelling on menus is just one small step towards creating positive change, but we were also mindful this could also be an issue for those with eating disorders.

Food poverty is a complex issue, and while it’s often presented as a simple choice between ‘eating or heating’, for example, factors outside the individual’s control can play a big part too. If you’ve not got access to fresh food in your local area and can’t travel, but have lots of takeaways in your high street, then it’s hard not to buy pre-made food, which is generally less healthy.

Fuel poverty

The team spoke about fuel poverty and how impossible it is to cook healthy, balanced meals if you can’t afford electricity or gas, and how food banks have to stock shelf-stable items – which makes sense but doesn’t help with providing fresh food. One member of staff shared her experience with a local food bank, where they were giving out slow cookers to help with both the fuel poverty and time poverty – this can make cooking from scratch easier.

As a team we’d really like to see a ban on advertising unhealthy food and we’ll be looking out for new projects working to improve healthy food options in food deserts. We meet every month and we’ll be updating this blog on a regular basis.

Blog by Emma Horrigan, Data Analyst with City Bridge Trust.

More information

This blog illustrates informal discussion within the City Bridge Team and does not necessarily reflect established Trust policy or views.

The Mayor of London’s recovery plans (PDF)

The Government’s recovery plans (PDF)

Full Fact’s report on information health (PDF)

The Institute for Employment’s report into stigma at work due to obesity (PDF)

The Centre for Social Justice’s Disability Commission Report (PDF)