We are working on the Social Enterprise and Sustainable Food Systems project alongside Surrey, Middlesex and Glasgow Caledonian Universities; with the goal of understanding the role that social enterprises play within sustainable food systems. This two year project is working with six social enterprises from England, Wales and Scotland, where food plays an important role.
Shared Assets will be playing an intermediary role between the social enterprises and universities by working as a practitioner partner on designing and conducting the research, and supporting in particular with running participatory mapping workshops. The social enterprise case studies will be working as active partners by recruiting a community researcher within the enterprise who will work alongside their communities and networks. They will do this by organising interviews with key stakeholders internal and external to the social enterprises, and focus groups with current users of the enterprises’ services or activities, as well as people who are less engaged in their work at present. This research aims to help increase local engagement with the social enterprises through developing a holistic understanding of what ‘sustainable and healthy food’ means to these communities.
The project will bring together the resulting research from across the six social enterprises, as well as other forms of research such as Life Cycle Assessments being carried out by university researchers, to summarise what sustainable food means to social enterprises and the people they work with. The research is also aiming to examine how policy and governance around social enterprises can transform their local food systems and how they are being supported to do this. We hope that Shared Assets will learn about the transdisciplinary process of this project, and best understand how different types of research can be brought together: with ourselves as practice-based researchers, the universities as academics as well as the vital role of community researchers within the social enterprises who will be supported to coordinate the research at a local level.