Resource

Free school meals – a healthy and sustainable school meal system

Informed by the experience in Sweden, where all primary and pre-school meals are tax-financed, we heard how the City of Malmo increased the amount of organic food served to 70% within 10 years, whilst also achieving a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGe) on 2002 levels. This was complemented by insights from Castell Howell Foods, an independent food wholesaler supplying 1,800 schools and the majority of local authorities in Wales.

This roundtable was held as part of our work on behalf of Welsh Government to support the foundational economy in Wales. Here are 8 of the key messages that emerged.

1. Systems change requires collaboration across policy area

The goal to provide organic food in uFSM in Malmo was driven by the Environment Department, however buy-in and cooperation from the departments for Health and Education was crucial. It was part of a wider vision for the City’s food system published in 2010 that set out that by 2020:
o All food served in Malmo should be certified organic
o GHGe from procured food should have decreased by 40% from a 2002 baseline.

2. It’s not all about budgets – a shared understanding can achieve more

In the case of Malmo, no additional money was added to food budgets to help with the transition to organic. However significant additional money was provided for training, education and raising understanding of how each part of the system could support the wider sustainability mission. This included tailored courses for staff at all levels and in all parts of the food system – cooks, managers, teachers, commissioners etc. Rather than just issuing instructions or calls to action, these courses focused on why the policy was needed and the impact that each part of the system could have in terms of making a difference and influencing others. These accompanied practical courses for delivery staff about how this could be done e.g. at the most practical level, how low carbon, nutritionally balanced meals on a budget could be produced.

3. Choose a goal that can be defined and measured (and if an existing indicator fits – use it!)

A goal for organic food was chosen over ‘sustainable food’ as there was already an agreed definition of what constituted organic, plus a credible existing certification system that i) could guarantee many of the standards and processes that the City was looking for and ii) provided a tangible way to evidence and measure progress. This removed the need to agree, embed and find a way to measure any new definition of the desired outcomes.

4. Local does not always mean better

The push to support local economies can sometimes detract from the bigger debate about what sort of local economies we want to see emerging. In terms of food, this label says nothing about how food has been produced in terms of quality, sustainable farming methods, animal welfare etc. This was another reason that the ‘organic’ goal was chosen by the Malmo team.

5. The role of teaching and catering staff is critical

In Malmo, the role of teaching staff, especially in pre-schools, was vital to encourage interest and curiosity in new foods amongst children. Meal times are also a learning opportunity and so teachers are encouraged to eat with the children and to work with kitchen staff to link the food that is being eaten to classroom activities – a factor also raised in the Learning Lessons from Scotland event.

6. It is vital to involve the supply chain

Transformation involves collaboration and in Malmo the supply chain needed to be supported and strengthened to make the policy work. In Wales, we also need to learn how to better enable producer-purchaser-policy partnerships that are based on reciprocity and help to rebalance risk. This is so that risks and short-term costs of trying to embed the ways of working that we all wish to see are not borne disproportionately by producers.

7. We need to rethink the way that staff in the food sector are valued

In Malmo, the heightened awareness about the role that school catering staff can play in the wider sustainability picture helped shift perceptions of these roles as ‘nothing jobs’ to ones that chefs in the restaurant business wanted to move into, with pull factors including the social contribution they could make as well as the family-friendly hours. In Wales, all parts of the food sector are struggling with staffing and a lack of young entrants. Reframing the opportunities within the food sector could help address this, provided that organisations are also supported to provide jobs that meet Fair Work criteria.

8. It’s a marathon not a sprint

Change takes time. The Malmo team set themselves a 10-year window to achieve the City’s goals. Even though these were not achieved in full by the 2020 deadline, it is still significant progress that others in Sweden and beyond wish to emulate. Success has been attributed to committed leadership, cross-party, cross-sector buy-in, hard work and consistent reiteration of a clear and ambitious target.

Background

The roundtable was held on 28 July 2022. The speakers were Helen Nilsson, Project Manager, Environment Department, City of Malmo and Edward Morgan, Group Corporate Social Responsibility & Training Manager, Castell Howell Foods. Presentation slides are available from admin@cynnalcymru.com.

You can read more about our first roundtable Learning Lessons from Scotland here and our wider work supporting a community of practice on the foundational economy here.

If you would like to join future roundtables or have ideas or comments around this or future themes, please contact Clare Sain-ley-Berry clare@cynnalcymru.com

Riversimple hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicle

Riversimple – The car that will transform personal transport

Riversimple have completely turned the conventional business model on its head, with a new business proposition to offer for their innovative technologies. They do not sell cars and never will.

They are making electric cars powered by hydrogen rather than batteries because they believe they have a vital role to play in decarbonising transport as quickly and effectively as possible. The only emission from our cars is water.

Most importantly, Riversimple will not be selling cars. Their vehicles will be offered to customers on a subscription-only basis. One all-inclusive, cost-transparent monthly payment will cover all costs, including insurance and fuel.

As a business they want to make sustainability profitable – the longer the cars last, the more efficient they are, the more profitable they will be.

A Globally responsible Wales

In its broadest sense, sustainability is also about peace, equality, and fairness which is why the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals include specific actions toward Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions while in Wales the Well-being of the Future Generations Act speaks of being Globally Responsible.

Everyone has different values, and so on this page we will be collating a wide range of actions you can take.

We are starting with crisis in Ukraine but our plan is to create a resource that signposts to a wide variety of causes and campaigns from across the globe.

ReStart Refugee Employment

The Welsh Government’s ReStart campaign is encouraging companies to employ refugees and migrants. They are committed to Wales becoming a Nation of Sanctuary, which welcomes people fleeing persecution to live well, work and thrive in communities throughout Wales.

All refugees welcome

The Living Wage Foundation’s parent charity Citizens UK is a leading player in the  community sponsorship scheme, which allows community groups to support the resettlement of vulnerable people fleeing conflict and take the lead in welcoming them to live in their communities.

Women Seeking Sanctuary Advocacy Group Wales are an advocacy and research group which works with and for refugee women and their families to  enhance their ability to rebuild their lives.

How to support Ukraine

Leaders and members of various communities have already come together to take actions that demonstrate what this goal means in practice.

The UN Global Compact and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) developed a Business Guide to urgently respond to Ukraine’s humanitarian crisis. The Guide provides concrete action for businesses to support the Secretary-General’s three-month Flash Appeal for people in Ukraine, and a Regional Refugee Response Plan for the situation outside, under the leadership of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

How to help Ukraine: Where to donate to appeals and charities supporting people amid Russia invasion (inews.co.uk)

DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal | Disasters Emergency Committee

Donate to UK for UNHCR (unrefugees.org.uk) as an organisation

How you can support animal protection organisations in Ukraine | Eurogroup for Animals

Ukraine crisis: donate now to protect children – Unicef UK

Speaking with Children about the War in Ukraine (cityofsanctuary.org)

Public Health Wales: Health and well-being impacts of climate change infographic

Launched to coincide with the Council of Parties 26 (COP26), the infographics focus on the relationships between the natural environment and health, the population groups affected and some of the key health and wellbeing impacts of climate change and those population groups who could be affected.

Public Health Wales (PHW) has committed in its long term plan to work with our partners to prepare for, and respond, to the expected and unexpected impact of climate change in Wales. As part of our contribution, the Wales Health Impact Assessment Support Unit (WHIASU) has been working with partner agencies including Natural Resources Wales, Renew Wales and Welsh Government, on a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) of Climate Change in Wales.

The infographics are part of this work which is ongoing and aims to ensure that organisations and Public Bodies in Wales have the evidence and information they need to plan for and respond to the health and wellbeing impacts on people and communities that climate change will bring.

The infographics can be downloaded here along with the references used to create the infographics.

The Sylfaen Toolkit

The Sylfaen programme supported six community-led organisations to develop and grow together. Wales Co-operative Centre delivered training around key areas that were identified as essential to running a successful community venture – from asset-mapping to income generation.

Key points from these courses have been summarised in one helpful booklet as a refresher to anyone looking to brush up on existing skills or to develop new ones. The booklet covers:

Part 1 – Vision, Mission, Values, Aims and Objectives

Part 2 – Community Engagement

Part 3 – An Introduction to Asset Mapping

Part 4 – Future-Proof Business Planning

Part 5 – Fundraising

Download the toolkit

Sustainable transport and active travel

We rely on transport as part of daily life; whether to get to work, school, hospital, or leisure activities. Relying on fossil fuel powered cars as our main mode of transport can have negative implications on our health and well-being due to high levels of air pollution, low levels of physical activity, and stress.

Transport emissions from fossil fuels contribute towards climate change and can increase air pollutants. In 2014, 12.77% of greenhouse gas emissions in Wales were from transport; amounting to 5.92Mt CO2e.

Climate change related extreme weather patterns may increase the frequency of which transport infrastructure will need to be repaired or replaced.

Redesigning our transport infrastructure to support active forms of travel can increase community cohesion and improve health and well-being.

There is potential to increase green jobs through renewable fuel technology development and implementation.

What the public sector is doing:

World / Europe:
The EU has a strategy for ‘low-emission mobility’ which sets out priorities of increasing transport efficiency, low-emission energy technology, and zero-emission vehicles take-up.

UK:
The UK government has a report outlying future transport plans; ‘ Low Carbon Transport: A Greener Future – A Carbon Reduction Strategy for Transport (2009)‘.

Wales:
The Welsh Government has put in place an ‘Active Travel Act (2013)’ and an‘Active Travel Action Plan’ to help get Wales cycling and walking.

The Welsh Government has recently consulted on ‘ A Clean Air Zone Framework for Wales’ designed to advise local authorities on how to reduce air pollution from transport and other sectors.

What the third sector is doing:

Community transport providers enable isolated or disabled people to remain connected to their community.

Living Streets Wales also campaigns for better opportunities for walking and challenges the dominance of cars on our streets.

Sustrans Cymru has a number of resources and campaigns to encourage active travel and safer streets
– their ‘Bike Life Cardiff’ report sets out the challenges and opportunities for active travel in Cardiff.

How you can make a difference:

Reduce your car use where possible by working from home, taking public transport, or by cycling or walking to your destination.

Avoid flying and if you must fly consider off-setting emissions by contributing to tree planting projects.

Develop a travel plan for your work or project and consider joining an electric vehicle car club.

Join a local walking group to enjoy the benefits of this free, low-impact exercise or consider setting yourself an ‘Active Travel’ goal for health reasons.

United Welsh: “Change happens at the speed of trust.”

United Welsh, Linc Cymru, Melin Homes and Tai Calon are four housing associations that manage all the social housing in Blaenau Gwent – equating to 20% of all the county’s homes. In 2019 they embarked on a project to explore if the power of their collective spend could better benefit the communities around them.

Previous collaboration had identified building and maintenance supply chains as a key area where coordinated spend could be targeted to help support the local economy, with opportunities for training and skills development, business growth and local job creation. However mapping these supply chains, and making links between the four organisations’ budgets and workplans, required careful analysis and dedicated resource, something that was difficult to find amongst existing demands and priorities.

The partners applied to Welsh Government’s Foundational Economy Challenge Fund to help accelerate this collaboration and a grant was awarded in recognition of the potential impact that this could have on the area’s foundational economy businesses. The approved project would map the supply chains across the four organisations, identify key opportunities to strengthen local spend and suppliers, build better relations with social enterprises and SMEs and connect them with existing business support networks.

One of the first key steps was gathering and collating supply chain data over the four partners. To do this, the planned maintenance budgets of all four housing associations were compiled and combined, producing a 10 year forward work programme worth £90 million. This was then used to start conversations with local businesses about how this work could be delivered locally, keeping as much of the spend in Blaenau Gwent as possible.

This sort of intelligence, about the value and scale of future potential work opportunities, is of huge benefit to business planning, particularly for smaller or more specialist suppliers. Knowledge of future opportunities can be critical in deciding for example whether to take on an extra staff member or to invest in training for a new type of installation or product.

Another unanticipated benefit of the project has been its potential to reduce the ‘boom and bust’ cycle of work that the partners were sometimes inadvertently creating. For example, rather than one housing association having an SME replace all their windows one season (boom) and then there being no similar work for months until another housing association did the same (bust), the housing associations can now coordinate programmes of work to ensure that a steady pipeline is always available.

As well as collating maintenance and supply chain data, the partners also shared ideas and existing programmes in place to support local community organisations. This led to a further combining of the partners’ resources – this time to support community spaces and initiatives better through the disruption that COVID-19 has caused. Working with CLES, The Wales Cooperative Centre and The Federation of Small Business, the project has also worked to set up a Social Enterprise Network in Blaenau Gwent, that they hope will continue well beyond the grant timeframe.

As well as achieving the original objectives of the Challenge Fund application, the closer partnership working that the grant enabled is influencing wider work also.

Like many housing associations, those in Blaenau Gwent are working on plans to decarbonise homes through retrofitting. Although this will be challenging, and means that maintenance plans already in place will need to change, it also provides another significant opportunity to support new, well paid, green jobs in the area.

The partnership believes that the new collaborative ways of working established during the Challenge Fund project will enable them to plan and deliver retrofitting in ways that – because of its scale – could deliver even greater benefits than the original project. The pooling of budgets and work programmes could even go so far as to help catalyse a new local retrofit industry through being able to guarantee a steady pipeline of work, geared towards smaller local suppliers.

This will include using the relationships built during the project with local colleges, SMEs and academia to explore how any training and skills gaps for the planned works can be addressed to ensure that work can be delivered locally. This could be an important contribution to building up the skills base in the county, which like many other post-industrial areas, has higher unemployment levels than the national average.

The partners are starting by retrofitting 200 homes, funded by a separate Welsh Government grant, which will be a source of learning about how to retrofit in a way that works for the people living in the homes and delivers the works through local SMEs.

An important spin-off to complement this work is the Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly – the first of its kind in Wales. This citizen’s assembly will allow local residents to help shape the decarbonisation plans not only of the four housing associations but also Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council and other local decision makers, ensuring that they align with the aspirations of local people. It forms one part of the new community engagement approach that the 4 housing associations have developed during the project.

Steve Cranston, The Foundational Economy Lead from United Welsh, believes that the initial project has therefore expanded into something much wider that will have a long-term influence on the way the partners work together, allowing them to better serve their residents and the local communities around them.

Steve has two key insights for others doing this kind of work. In building collaboration across organisations, he cites trust as a key driver, explaining that “change happens at the speed of trust”. How to develop trust? Openness, transparency and listening.

Another insight is maintaining focus on what the foundational economy is about – people. Providing people with good services backed up by good jobs. Steve explains how having regular conversations with local people and communities and focusing on listening to their views is vital to ensure resources really go to where it’s needed.

Steve says the best part of being part of the Foundational Economy Challenge Fund has been “having time to build trusted relationships with partner organisations. Trust is the most important currency and we have opened up opportunities for long term mutual benefit.”

Why saving water matters

Being water efficient not only helps to reduce water wastage but as an organisation, you pay for all the water that passes through your meter – so it makes good financial sense to ensure you are not letting any of it go to waste. Taking simple inexpensive measures can typically reduce your water consumption by up to 50%.

Saving water is also good for the environment and will help to reduce the carbon footprint of your organisation. Cleaning and treating water uses valuable energy and resources, and if water levels fall, the wildlife in wetland habitats may suffer. Also, if you are heating your water prior to use, any reduction in water consumption will also have a positive impact on your energy bills.

Calculate your water usage

As with carbon foot-printing, it is important to understand how much water you are currently using in order to reduce your impacts.

The following resources are available to help you in this process:

Water Footprint Assessment

Reduce your water usage

Simple, quick measures to reduce your water usage include installing a water-butt, water-saving taps, and low-flush or dual-flush toilets. More ideas for ‘simple changes’ to help you save water and reduce leaks can be found from Waterwise and The Carbon Trust’s Energy and Water Efficiency’ guide.

Dwr Cymru offer businesses Water Efficiency Audit.

They estimate that most small businesses (or organisations) can typically achieve a 20 – 50% decrease in the amount of water they use.

Their Rainscape project also provides ideas and links to further resources for ‘rainscaping’ buildings; from simple rainwater collection to more ambitious projects such as green roofs. There is also information about ‘porous paving’ which is increasingly required due to recent changes in planning consents.

ELITE Paper Solutions: Building bridges between the public sector and social enterprise

ELITE Paper Solutions is a social enterprise based in Merthyr Tydfil, specialising in document management storage and data shredding.  

As illustrated by its acronym – Equality Linked Into Training and Employment – ELITE aims to provide a fully inclusive workplace to support those traditionally furthest from the labour market, for example due to disability, health conditions or long-term unemployment, to gain skills and jobs. 

ELITE received a Challenge Fund grant to further develop its model to a point where it could deliver larger-scale contracts, which would in turn support more jobs, skills and volunteering opportunities. Part of this included influencing public sector stakeholders to change their procurement practices to allow them to place more contracts with social enterprises. 

The grant was invested in capital and revenue items to grow the team and build organisational capacity. This included an Employment Advisor to work with referral agencies and other support bodies to help individuals access and progress through ELITE’s training and work opportunities. 

These investments not only helped ELITE win 3 large public sector contracts but enabled it to respond quickly to the changing needs of its customers brought about by the Covid pandemic, increasing its revenue by £90,000 compared with the previous year. 

For example, one contract due to start on the cusp of lockdown increased its receptacles order by one third due to a pivot in ways of working which produced far more paper waste than first planned for. With its additional capacity ELITE was able to supply the extra collection bins required. 

At the other end of the spectrum, the move for many organisations away from the office environment, has led to a surge in demand for physical information to be made available online. The rapid rise in uptake of its confidential scanning services has allowed ELITE to hire nine new members of staff to assist its scanning section. 

ELITE is also proud to have increased other contracts, including for the NHS, in response to increased demand for the archive storage service that it provides, to safely store important records. 

Alongside its increasing commercial success, the grant has enabled ELITE to further develop its core activity of supporting those traditionally excluded from skills and work opportunities. Since 2015, the social enterprise section of the Charity, has worked with over 250 people, with a disability or disadvantage and believes that there is a job for everyone, regardless of their support need. 

As an example, ELITE CEO Andrea Wayman says, “Our scanning section is a fantastic place for people who are high functioning on the autistic spectrum, due to the need for attention to detail, supporting them to develop their social skills, which may have been a barrier to employment in the past. Their development has created a tremendous team.” 

In this regard, the Challenge Fund project also serves as a demonstrator of the role that social enterprises can play in the foundational economy. Andrea believes that the ELITE model can be adopted by any workplace, including larger SMEs and the Public Sector, to enable more diverse workforces, aid local economies and increase understanding of the contributions that can be made by people who are often overlooked.  

To support Challenge Fund grantees, Welsh Government also operates a community of practice to bring projects together to share learning and challenges. Andrea believes this has been a  

huge benefit for relationship building that has led to multiple new referrals as well as a new client. This has also been an opportunity for ELITE to speak as ‘the voice of social purchasing’ and positively inform and influence those who sit on the purchasing side of procurement. 

Speaking about the Community of Practice, Andrea shares, “I didn’t realise the bonus that the communities of practice would bring to us. I just thought it was something that had been thought about afterwards, whereas it’s been as important to us as having the grant itself.” 

As ELITE looks forward, its goals are to continue growing and promoting its model. This includes gaining more opportunities within the public sector – and paving the way for other social enterprises to follow suit. 

Simply Do Ideas: Helping Wales lead the way in public sector innovation

Simply Do Ideas is an SME based in south Wales. Its purpose is to enable large organisations to crowdsource ideas to solve strategic organisational challenges. A key tool is its award-winning digital platform, an end-to-end innovation workflow which makes the process of managing innovation quicker, easier and more effective. It does this by enabling organisations to shape and share live, media-rich briefs in a secure portal designed to capture focused solutions from employees or external suppliers. This is known as challenge-led innovation. 

>> How Simply Do Works << 

The company recognized that the time, cost and risk typically associated with innovation are the three key barriers for most public sector organisations when developing creative and innovative solutions to their problems. Confident that their model could help, the company put forward a proposal to test their approach in the context of the social and economic challenges facing public bodies and communities in the South Wales Valleys. 

A Challenge Fund grant was awarded to build upon their earlier work in policing, advanced manufacturing and financial services to connect foundational economy challenges with crowd-sourced entrepreneurial solutions from two key stakeholder groups; the first, local colleges and universities and the second, local SMEs. 

The project was delivered in two distinct phases: 

Phase one aimed to address a shared problem between industry, education providers and their students. Time poor, risk averse employers need new ideas to survive and thrive, whilst students need access to ‘real-world’ experiences to be ready for the world of work. In the middle, further and higher education providers are tasked with heavy employability targets and stretching curriculum outcomes. 

During this phase, students from 8 colleges and universities in and around the south Wales Valleys were presented with live briefs and supported to generate innovative solutions to key marketplace challenges. The briefs came from organisations across foundational economy sectors, including those in hospitality, transport, housing and construction. 

More than 400 students engaged in these challenges, enabling the client organisations to capture early-stage ideas that could then be tested in the marketplace. At the same time, the students gained essential experience of working on a real-time business brief, something not otherwise easily accessible to them. 

As Simply Do Ideas moved into phase two of the pilot, the company turned its focus to supplier-led innovation, which encourages organisations to work with the expertise in their supplier network in order to bring new and existing products and services to market faster. In Wales the supplier network is predominantly SMEs and the company was confident that its expertise could be harnessed to help bridge the gap to the public sector. 

Choosing to focus on the healthcare sector, the company partnered with Life Sciences Hub Wales, which aims to help make Wales the place of choice for health, care and wellbeing innovation. 

Whilst working together, the need for PPE rocketed due to the coronavirus pandemic and demand on manufacturers reaching an all-time high. A rigorous procurement process put extra pressure on the Life Sciences Hub team, who were manually sifting and sorting through an unprecedented number of product and service offers from industry in order to procure the necessary supplies. 

This was the perfect opportunity for Simply Do to deploy its digital product, allowing it to co-create a customised workflow that, through automation, significantly increased the speed by which diverse providers and products could be sourced, qualified and purchased whilst maintaining a robust procurement process. 

Not only did this solve a huge time barrier for Life Sciences Hub in sourcing appropriate products but it saved time for potential suppliers who could communicate their offer more quickly and easily via the purpose-built innovation portal. Moreover, innovative new suppliers, products and services were surfaced through this streamlined, challenge-led process that may otherwise not have been. 

The output was impressive, with more than £6million of PPE products procured by the NHS from suppliers engaged on Simply Do, resulting in an approximate GVA to the Welsh economy of £34 million. NHS Shared Services also became a net-contributor of PPE to the broader, UK-Wide effort to secure PPE during the pandemic. 

In total, the Challenge Fund has enabled Simply Do Ideas to engage with more than 1,600 SMEs generating almost 1,800 ideas in response to 13 externally-sourced challenges relevant to suppliers and commissioners in the foundational economy. The organisation’s Senior Business Manager, Joseph Murphy, believes that this demonstrates that challenge-led innovation has a real contribution to make in terms of progressing the way that procurement is done in Wales. 

 “There’s an opportunity here for Wales to be a global leader. Turning our size to our advantage, we can use our close proximity to one-another, our resources and public policy to ensure that we are at the cutting-edge when it comes to solving some of the biggest challenges of our time,”

Having concluded its Challenge Fund project with resounding evidence that this model works within the public – as well as private – sector space, Simply Do Ideas is looking ahead towards a new investment stage. Its aim is to continue working creatively, between and across sectors, to further cascade the benefits of challenge-led innovation. 

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