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District Dispatch - 5 December 2023

In a recent survey by the Arun & Chichester Food Partnership, residents said that they were keen to see more community growing projects in their local area.

Councillor Adrian Moss, Leader of Chichester District Council

Projects like this offer huge benefits to our communities, including making sure that everyone has access to a space where they can grow and share food.

The Petworth Community Garden is a fantastic example. The garden provides an accessible growing space where local people can access free, organic fruit and vegetables. The team also organise regular 'learn and grow' and 'plot to plate' activities, sessions for children with special needs, and wildlife projects for adults with learning difficulties. For more information, visit the Growing For All website (opens new window).

We're proud to be involved in the Arun & Chichester Food Partnership, which brings together Arun & Chichester Citizens' Advice, voluntary and community organisations and local councils, to make sure that nobody goes hungry and that everyone can access quality, affordable food. You can find tips and materials — including a downloadable pack with advice on setting up your own community garden — on the Arun and Chichester Food Partnership page (opens new window).

Through our Tree Chichester District scheme, we've helped support the planting of seven community orchards. These are collections of fruit trees grown in public spaces and are another great way for residents to access local produce. I'm pleased to say that we've just secured a further £12,000 of funding to support more projects like this.

The average UK family with children throws away more than £700 of food every year. To help people save money and reduce waste, UKHarvest has recipes designed for using up leftovers (opens new window). You can find tips for reducing food waste, as well as help with other household bills, on our Chichester District Council Help with Household bills pages.

There are also free cook-along events that offer the opportunity to prepare low-cost, healthy recipes alongside the UKHarvest team. The next Cook With Us event takes place online on Friday 8 December, in which you can turn basic cupboard ingredients into a tasty recipe to help keep costs down at Christmas, you can find out more on their UK Harvest Cook With Us page (opens new window).

Community Food Hubs provide affordable food in locations across the district. Just bring a bag and a suggested donation of £3.50 for a selection of groceries and produce. Find the next event by visiting UK Harvest's website (opens new window).

There are even mobile apps that can help reduce food waste and save money. Olio (opens new window) provides a platform to share unwanted food or pick up leftover goods from stores for free. Nowaste (opens new window) allows you to scan receipts and barcodes, log your weekly shop, make lists of what you have, plan meals and receive reminders when food items will expire. Too Good to Go (opens new window) lets you buy 'Magic Bags' filled with surplus food at a significantly reduced price from businesses.

If you're struggling to pay for food, the Chichester Foodbank can also help, visit the Chichester District Foodbank how to get help page (opens new window).

There is a range of other support available to those struggling with the cost of living. What you may not know is that utility companies have dedicated schemes. Southern Water offer up to a 50% one-year bill reduction for customers hit temporarily by hard times through the Southern Water Customer Hardship Fund (opens new window). They also offer debt write-off (up to £2,000) for customers who have managed to get back on track with payments, but who will never be able to repay their debt; and they offer a grant of up to £1,000 to make improvements to a customer's home. Portsmouth Water offers debt support and a tariff for customers who have a low income or are in receipt of certain benefits, visit Portsmouth Water Help With My Bills (opens new window).

You may also be eligible for cheaper phone and broadband packages through social tariffs, just visit Ofcom's Social Tariffs page (opens new window) for more. These are available to people claiming Universal Credit, Pension Credit and some other benefits.

Don't forget that our 'Supporting You' team can signpost you to assistance such as this — you can contact them on supportingyou@chichester.gov.uk or 01243 534860. More advice is available on our Chichester District Council Supporting You campaign pages.

Best Wishes

Cllr Adrian Moss

Leader of Chichester District Council