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Feeding Aberdeen Seminar

On the 27th March 2015 Community Planning Aberdeen's Welfare Reform Board hosted a "Feeding Aberdeen" seminar, at the AECC to consider and respond tothe rapid growth of food banks in the city where there is evidence of an increasing amount of residents in the city resorting to food banks in order to make ends meet.

A short film was created for the event highlighting the work of the Food Bank:


The seminar was chaired by Donald Urquhart, Head of Communities and Housing, and was attended by over 80 services ,organisations and individualsinvolved in responding tothe impact of welfare reform and provision of emergency food aid.

The Lord Provost, George Adams welcomed delegates and set the context to the seminar:

Mary Anne Macleod, The Poverty Alliance:"A Study of Emergency Food Aid in Scotland"

Mary Anne MacLeod is a Research Officer at the Poverty Alliance. The Poverty Alliance is Scotland's anti-poverty network which works to tackle poverty and inequality through a range of campaigning, lobbying, community work and research activities. Mary Anne is the author of 'Making the Connections: a study of emergency food aid in Scotland', a Scottish Government commissioned research report which was published last month by the Poverty Alliance. The report can be downloaded from This website has been developed following the research as a resource for emergency food aid providers, which includes links to key national support and advice agencies, information about relevant campaigns, case studies and good practice guidance. Mary Anne is also a Doctoral Researcher in Urban Studies at Glasgow University. Her PhD research will examine the rise and impact of emergency food aid in Scotland


Dr Flora Douglas, University of Aberdeen

Flora Douglas is a public health scientist, and a principal investigator within the University of Aberdeen's Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health. In this role, she contributes to the Scottish Government's Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services (RESAS) Theme 7 Research Programme, which is concerned with enabling the Scottish population to have access and be able to consume 'Healthy Safe Diets'. Within this research portfolio, Flora is responsible for research objectives that are focused on health inequalities, and, young people's food choices.

Flora joined the University's Department of Public Health in 2000 to take up the role of Health Sciences Degree Programme Coordinator in conjunction with NHS Grampian. Her research work during that time primarily focused on evaluating local and national public health policy initiatives, particularly in relation to men's health inequalities and obesity prevention: work which ultimately led her to take up an appointment as research scientist with the Rowett.

Flora is interested in the use of community-based research approaches to inform public health and social policy in respect of food and health. In particular, she is interested in conducting research that enables community members to communicate their lived experiences and perspectives in relation to questions about what it means to be food secure, and, food insecure at the household level.Flora also currently works with scientists from the Chief Scientist Office funded Health Economics Research Unit and the University's Public Health Nutrition Group to represent the University within the European Union Joint Programme Initiative, the so-called DEDIPAC Knowledge Hub. She also continues to teach on a range of post graduate courses offered by the University's College of Life Sciences.

Prior to joining NHS Grampian in 1995 as a senior health promotion officer, Flora has worked both in clinical practice and academic public health and nursing roles in Glasgow, Fife and Perth Western Australia.



Caroline Comerford, NHS Grampian

Caroline Comerford is a senior health promotion specialist within NHS Grampian Public Health where she has worked since 1998. She leads multi-agency work at community, NHS and national levels to improve dietary health, with a particular focus on reducing food poverty and health inequality. This work has shaped her understanding of and commitment to tackling nutrition related poverty.

Her food bank research earned her a distinction in her MSc studies at Robert Gordon University. In her NHS role Caroline has commissioned and collaborated in a variety of nutrition related research studies. She has recently taken up a part-time lecturing post in public health/health improvement at Robert Gordon University alongside her NHS role.

Link to presentation video coming soon.

Dave Simmers, Chief Executive of Community Food Initiatives North East (CFINE)

Dave Simmers is currently Chief Executive of Community Food initiatives North East (CFINE), charity and social enterprise focusing on improving health and wellbeing, community regeneration, increasing employability, creating employment, and addressing environmental concerns with and for disadvantaged vulnerable individuals, families and communities in the North East of Scotland. Dave has worked for over 40 years in Community Development firstly as a volunteer at the Cyrenians night shelter in Aberdeen. For 20 years he worked for the local authority latterly between 1987-1997 as Head of Grampian Regional Social Strategy Unit. Dave led the establishment of Aberdeen Foyer, the development of the Gypsy/Traveller Strategy for Grampian.He also had lead responsibility for the Urban Aid Programme and established the Great Northern Social Inclusion Partnership in 1997 aimed at tackling social economic and physical regeneration for Aberdeen's most disadvantaged communities. Dave acts as the lead partner for the Foodbank Partnership Aberdeen and in a voluntary capacity he is chair of North East of Scotland Credit Union and is an Ex Vice President of the Scottish League of Credit Unions.



Food Bank User



Following the presentations, delegates were asked to participate in discussion groups to help identify what changes are needed for the future and priority actions/proposals that should be taken forward, in Aberdeen, in order to improve the situation.

1.The Role for Corporate Social responsibility in Tackling Food Poverty
(Dave Simmers - CFINEand Hugh Riddell, Client Manager - Technip)

Discussion Group 1

2.Working Together through increased Collaboration, Coordination and Co- Location
(Paul Tytler - ACC Welfare Reform Manager and Julie Richards - ACC Programme Manager)

Discussion Group 2

3.What needs to change; public policy and influence.
(Donald Urquhart - ACC Head ofCommunities & Housing and Dave Kilgour - City Strategist)

Discussion Group 3

4.Community Practical responses to Food Aid
(Mark Lovie - Fersands & Fountain Community Project and Anne Knight -ACC Fairer Aberdeen Development Worker)

Discussion Group 4

5.Food poverty lessons learned, and what needs to change:An opportunity for a follow-up discussion with Dr Flora Douglas and Caroline Comerford
Makingthe Connections: An opportunity for a follow-up discussion with Mary Anne Macleod

Discussion Group 5

Back to Food Poverty in Aberdeen