At the Healthy Living Platform we’re a social enterprise which is all about offering activities which benefit the health and wellbeing of the whole community.
We develop community programmes and activities that empower local people and are self-sustaining.
We encourage healthy and sustainable lifestyles by giving practical training, education, information and support on topics such as nutrition, cooking, food growing, health and wellbeing.
Our vision is thriving neighbourhoods full of people who are helping one another access everything they need to live happy, healthy lives. We think that communities have a lot of the things they need to create their own wellbeing and, in particular, can learn and trade skills from one another and become less dependent on those big corporations who do not care about what matters to us.
• enable and offer activities which benefit the health and wellbeing of the community
• develop community projects and activities that empower local people and sustain themselves
• encourage healthy and sustainable lifestyles by providing practical training, education, information and support on nutrition, cookery, food growing, health and wellbeing
Our first big project is our partnership with LEAP, which we started in 2018 and will run until at least 2021.
Our focus there is to improve outcomes for children born in four of the poorest wards of the borough, in particular creating healthier environments that will be sustainable beyond the life of the project.
We will build on this work to reach out to more people in these four wards, and replicate what works in other areas of Lambeth and beyond. We are also a platform for new projects. Our team has lots of experience and ideas for things we can do.
We recognise that we are particularly good at building partnerships and being in the background, helping use our experience to access funding and to realise grassroots ambitions. For example, we are working with the existing food growers such as the Polytunnel, on the Tulse Hill estate, to expand the growing and ensure that it is properly resourced over the summer holidays.
Our community stories
There’s a corner of Lambeth each Wednesday afternoon which is dedicated to everything about healthy food — and there’s free fruit and vegetable bags on offer as well. The Max Roach Community Centre, a vibrant, super-friendly, wood-clad building in Max Roach Park, becomes a midweek Incredible Edible LEAP zone. Walk in through its doors and you’re greeted by delicious smells from the kitchen, crates of brightly coloured fruit and veggies and lots of people with soil on their hands coming in from the garden.
Bags of healthy food
Candice, the centre manager, takes up the story: ‘Wednesday lunchtime is our Incredible Edible LEAP grow and play session. Our parents cook nutritious vegetarian lunches using surplus food from City Harvest. The Incredible Edible LEAP families are able to have a selection of fruit and veggies to take home. All the recipes also go into the food bags. We have a huge collection now and it’s the parents who decide what to cook: bean burgers, soups, bread. Food is really bringing all our groups together.’
Planting for the future
Out into the garden, Bill and Steven from community gardeners Urban Canopy are relishing the challenge of transforming the outside space into a growing space. It’s early days but eventually the food bags given out each week will contain things grown at the centre. The plants from this year will be harvested, cooked or bagged next spring and summer. They are working through projects which include digging and planting vegetable beds, laying poly tunnels and compost heaps, and then planting an orchard and an edible hedge.
Bill loves the weekly family activity: ‘Last week we were looking for insects in the compost like woodlice and spiders. The kids were learning the basic principles of gardening through sensing and feeling. They were finding out where food comes from and getting more in touch with nature in the city. This week they are planting tulip bulbs.’
Back inside the building, the pumpkin soup is being handed out. Warm deep orange swirls in little coloured bowls. Everyone says it tastes every bit as good as it looks.
Parent with a purpose
With soup cooked and served, Incredible Edible LEAP Food Ambassador and parent Michelle leaves the kitchen and talks about the impact the project has had on her life. She says: ‘I’m a diabetic mum. Receiving food bags has relieved me from the financial stress of buying my own fruit and vegetables. Who knew vegetarian food would taste so good? My weight has gone down and I’m sleeping much better. It’s enhanced my confidence and allowed me to meet good people in my community. I recently cooked my own rice and vegetable stew recipe at the centre. Everyone loved it and I served 28 plates.’
Michelle completed a training programme with us on how to cook healthy food in community settings and gained her Food Hygiene Certificate.