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Personal Stories

The personal stories presented at the Food and Cornwall conference were stories of self, us and now (presented as a public narrative). These stories are individual, personal stories that explain why an individual is drawn to action, to make connections with others and to motivate others to join them.

Andy's Story

Andy Robinson with Tarn Lamb

Food poverty in Cornwall-where are we now?

Andy; ‘I started off living out of a tent on the Camel trail just outside Bodmin. I had issues with mental health and self-harming and really didn’t have any money to buy food. I found out about Wadebridge food-bank which helped me out big time, even just getting me a tin opener so I could open the tins’.

Tarn; ‘So was your experience of the food-banks just a one off’?

Andy; ‘I used it a couple of times, from Wadebridge I was put into a Hostel and then moved to Redruth into my own flat which I was lucky to get, from there change in benefits which left me 8 weeks without money so I relied on Camborne and Redruth food-bank’.

Tarn; ‘So how’s life now’?

Andy; ‘Brilliant, I volunteer at Cn4C and work helping people find work and I’ve taken part in 2 gardening qualifications and I’ve also taken part with the fire brigade doing  the Phoenix project, where I was told to man up and get on with life.

Tarn; ‘Now we talk about systems problems all the time, but today is also about us taking personal action. Now I’ve taken to pimping Andy’s gardening knowledge, now I have this greenhouse, it’s too big for me so Andy and I are sharing my greenhouse this year. That’s the action I’ve taken’.

Andy; ‘I’m here to be heard, for everyone to take action and think about what they doing and work that bit harder’.

Felicity's Story

Felicity Owen's story as told to the Food and Cornwall Conference April 2014 

‘I started off my career as a nurse and when I was a renal nurse I was nursing a young lad called Paul and he developed loads of urinary tract infections and this lead to him having chronic renal disease. His kidneys failed and his dad gave him a kidney and that worked and he’s doing well, but that really started me thinking about why he was there and why he lost his kidney and it felt to me like a very wrong thing to happen to anybody.

So my journey to prevention started with Paul, I had the choice to stay in nursing or find a path that leads to prevention, I chose the latter.

Now today we’re thinking about inequalities and everyone in this room has shown that they care, we’ve come together to make a sustainable difference. This is our chance to achieve more together, to make a social movement for change.

I’m asking that you throw yourself into real and even deeper conversations and that everyone makes a commitment to action today to end food poverty and create food wealth in Cornwall’.

Matthew's Story

Matthew Thomson's Story given at the Food and Cornwall Conference April 2014

‘This is the story of where I’m at with food and making connections between your place and the world so that you can achieve real change’.

‘So who remembers Live aid? We were all there weren’t we? Live-aid hit me deeply with their message, we were saying “starving Africa and we’ve got to do something”. In the following year in 1985, I learnt that in the same year Ethiopia had been exporting grain to Europe to feed the cattle that makes our burgers and steaks. I was disgusted and that’s the year I stopped eating meat. I considered then that meat eating at the rate we were eating it was a fundamental problem and for about ten years I was a vegetarian’.

‘So when did I stop being a vegetarian? I stopped being a vegetarian when I was working in a Convent garden restaurant and I was taking food waste from people’s tables and they’d spent a lot of money on it and I was having to tip it away. It upset me so much that I started eating it off the plates and shoving it into my mouth. I just couldn’t bear the thought that these animals had died to end up in a West End bin’.

‘The point is that that is a personal story that illustrates what’s going on in a global food system, a broken system, an abusive system. I think what we’re trying to do is to talk about the social abuse that we’re dealing with and we’ve got to look at some of the environmental abuse that we’re dealing with and some of the economical abuse that we’re dealing with and that’s what sustainability means’

green beans