WEBINAR: ‘The undeserving poor’: How food system transformation is middle class and why this needs to change
Let’s deal with an elephant in the room: Transforming the food system is largely an occupation pursued by middle class professionals on salaries. Whether it be in academia, policy research and design, government, NGOs, or food sector management – most of the people making decisions (or aiming to inform decisions) about the agri-food system, don’t themselves have living experience of poverty, food insecurity and inequality. What impact will this have on food system transformation going forwards, if voices of people with such experiences are not included in a more meaningful way? How can they be given an ongoing and equal seat at the table to ensure a just transition? What are the realities of living with poverty that many of those working on food system transformation don’t consider or understand?
Dominic Watters digs into all of this for us in this thought-provoking webinar. As a single dad living in poverty and food and fuel insecurity, Dominic’s ability to tell it like it is and connect the dots on poverty has made him an increasingly sought after voice on these issues. He is a campaigner, speaker, and author of Social Distance in Social Work: COVID Capsule One.
Watch the webinar
Dominic Watters, also known as Single Dad SW, comes from the most deprived blocks of his council estate. He has used his experience of the daily realities of poverty to help inform discussions about fuel and food insecurity in the UK. Dominic highlights the snobbery he has faced when shaping the concept of ‘living experience’, (Watters, D. 2021), that stresses the urgency required to address the inequalities experienced by the poor long before the cost-of-living crisis was conceived. Releasing his first book in 2021, that now has been reviewed in leading academic journals and is stocked in university libraries across the country, Dominic invites the reader into an environment drenched in poverty to raise awareness of the challenges faced by so many, and as noted by Azra Bloomfield, “This book is a mark of respect to everyday people”, (2023). Dominic says that his writing has been a lonely pursuit at times but felt great encouragement through receiving endorsements from Sir Michael Marmot, David Brindle, and Anna Taylor of the Food Foundation. His impactful appearances on BBC Newsnight, Sky News, and the New Statesman to name a few, have shown him to use every platform he can access to speak up for the marginalised and often unheard. Now widely regarded as a voice of poverty and on the editorial board of the British Journal of Social Work (Oxford University Press), Dominic has designed a ground-breaking training that promotes a Food and Fuel Insecurity Best Practice model for those supporting the most disadvantaged in our society. Follow Dominic on Twitter/ X.
As well as a co-convenor of AFN Network+, Neil is a professor of rural and regional development at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia (UEA), where he was deputy vice chancellor and PVC-Academic (2013-21). He has held chairs at the University of Leeds and Newcastle University, where he was director of the Centre for Rural Economy from 2004 to 2008. He has also worked for periods on secondment to the Cabinet Office and as an advisor to the Economic and Social Research Council. His research interests are in rural economic and social change, agriculture, food and environmental policy and regional development. His latest book is Net Zero, Food and Farming: Climate Change and the UK Agri-Food System (Routledge 2023). Follow Neil on Twitter/X.
About the webinar series:
This webinar is part of a series run by AFN Network+ and put together by knowledge exchange fellow and agri-food journalist, Jez Fredenburgh, based at the Tyndall Centre at UEA. Follow Jez on Twitter/X. The series explores net zero in the UK agri-food system with leading movers and shakers. Expect deep and varied insight from across the sector, including farmers, scientists, policy analysts, community leaders, retailers, politicians, businesses and health professionals.
Watch more webinars here and listen to our podcast here. You can also follow AFN Network+ on Twitter/X and LinkedIn.
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UK Research has funded this Network+ with the support of these 4 councils:
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)