The project in Hammersmith & Fulham started when we were approached by members of the North End Road Action Group. This group was set up to try and drive improvements to North End Road Market which has been at the cornerstone of the community in Fulham since 1887.
They introduced us to councillors and local officials who were keen to support the economic vibrancy of this crucial community asset. With funding from H&F Councils Economic Development Team & Public Health and from the Disney Healthy Living Fund (Disney are a corporate citizen of H&F Borough) we officially launched H&F in May 2017.
The project started by working with two children’s centres – Melcombe & Fulham Central. We are delighted to currently have five children’s centres involved, with Masbro, Flora Gardens and Ray’s Playhouse all now also distributing vouchers to their families, increasing the number of families supported in H&F to nearly 200.
Families on the scheme have highlighted an increased awareness and knowledge of fruit and veg resulting from use of the market, with their children showing an interest in learning about fresh produce and getting involved in making decisions about what to buy.
“He knows the vegetables – he points and says ‘I know spinach’. In the market he helps me to make choices.”
In H&F the project has also helped support positive behaviour change, resulting in increased numbers of meals being cooked from scratch
“We stopped buying ready meals as it’s expensive and we have more ingredients to cook with now.”
The response from the market traders has also been very positive. Public Health undertook surveys in November 2017 to find out what they thought about the scheme and how it had benefitted their business. Traders were very happy with the scheme and told us that most of the families were new customers to the market. They also shared how many families topped up their spend with their own cash averaging an extra spend of £2.50 per shop.
In the evaluation carried out in October 2017 families told us that the scheme had encouraged them to change their shopping habits away from supermarkets to using the street market and its surrounding shops (such as butchers and fish mongers). This shows the potential multiplier effect the project can have on local food economies.
In 2019 we expanded the project to Shepherd’s Bush underground station and White City, giving the families a wider choice of traders to shop with for their fruit and veg.
We are grateful for the continued financial support for the scheme from the council.