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Date(s) - 19/10/2017
All Day

Sustain, Old Street


Sustain Right to Food Coordinator

Job title Right to Food Coordinator
Organisation Project coordinated by Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming
Salary £35,867 per annum pro rata 0.6 FTE (equating to £21,520). Sustain matches pension contributions up to 5% of gross salary, available after a probationary period of three months
Location The post is London based at Sustain’s office in the Old Street area of London. Office location is likely to change in 2018, within London. Travel within UK will be required
Position type One-year fixed-term contract, ideally starting in October 2017. This contract may be extended, subject to successful fundraising
Working hours Part-time, 21 hours per week. Travel within the UK will be required, with occasional overnight stays
Other details • 20 days basic annual leave, pro rata 0.6 FTE (equating to 12 days per annum) rising two days every year to a maximum limit of 25 days (pro rata). The office closes over the Christmas period, and this period provides additional holiday days.
• Childcare vouchers available on a ‘salary sacrifice’ basis.
Websites www.sustainweb.org – see also www.sustainweb.org/foodpoverty/
Equal opportunities Sustain is an equal opportunities employer. See our equal opportunities policy: www.sustainweb.org/pdf/Sustain_Equal_Opps_Policy.pdf

Background to the Right to Food project

Food poverty, or household food insecurity, takes myriad forms in individuals’ lives. It can affect children who would normally receive free school meals having little food during the school holidays and then return to school having lost learning; new parents going without food so that their children can eat; people in and out of work (or in insecure work) who struggle to make ends meet and must resort to less healthy food; or isolated older people unable to prepare healthy meals without support and may lose interest in food and cooking. Food poverty can be triggered by a crisis in finance or personal circumstances, but may also be a long-term grinding experience of not being able to access a healthy diet or afford to eat well.

Over recent years, the Sustain alliance has been working with numerous partners, local authorities and cities to instigate cross-sector food poverty action plans that move ‘beyond the food bank’ to more systematic and up-stream approaches to start tackling the causes of hunger. However, it has also long been the ambition of the Sustain alliance – since our early work on food poverty in the 1990s, the Food Access Network and later the unsuccessful Food Poverty Eradication Bill – to put ending hunger and providing people with access to a decent standard of living that includes good food, on a robust legal footing. The likelihood of UK residents and citizens losing basic legal rights in the process of the UK leaving the EU has provided additional impetus, as has emerging opportunities to contribute to the wider debate on the potential for Economic, Cultural and Social Rights to be enacted in UK law. See information on the Right to Food at: www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/ESCR/Pages/Food.aspx.

The UK has ratified a number of international treaties that proclaim the Right to Food, but this human right has not yet been incorporated into national law. The adequate recognition of the Right to Food domestically could, for example, help embed measurement of household food insecurity; give vulnerable people and their advocates the right to demand action on factors affecting people’s personal circumstances (e.g. housing and energy prices and the ‘poverty premium’); put a duty on local and national authorities to take practical steps and provide adequate resources to improve incomes long-term as well as help people through crisis; and could trigger a requirement for provision of helpful and dignified support, facilities and services, as well as the necessary funding and other resources to achieve these.

The path provided by the right to food takes us further than this, to more fundamental system-wide changes related to ‘food sovereignty’ – access to land, a safe and secure food supply, and sustainable production that ensures good food, protects natural resources and means decent and secure livelihoods for the food producers upon whom we all depend.

Equally, we want to ensure that ambitions are grounded in good practice and a sensible approach to the practicalities of upholding a Right to Food. We also want to involve people with experience of food poverty, as well as local authorities and other service providers and their associations in shaping the terms of the Right to Food and how this might be expressed, advocated and implemented.

These are the issues Sustain will be addressing in an exciting new programme of work supported by the Baring Foundation. Our purpose will be to bring together food, poverty, health and legal organisations – as well as representatives of the authorities and agencies that would need to take action – to design the basis of a new right to food. We will build on the knowledge and inspiration of colleagues in Scotland, who are already organising and advocating around such work, coordinated by Nourish Scotland, and draw on the expertise and enthusiasm of Just Fair and the Institute for Health & Society at Newcastle University, among others. We will also involve people with experience of food poverty in shaping the terms of the right to food and how this might be expressed, advocated and implemented.

About Sustain

Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture and promote equity. We represent around 100 organisations working internationally, nationally, regionally and locally, and work with many more at a local level. Some of our recent alliance campaign successes include the following. Sustain has:

  • Put a sugary drinks tax on the national agenda, then campaigned successfully with chef Jamie Oliver to see it adopted in the 2016 Spring Budget and confirmed in the government’s August 2016 Obesity Plan. This came after we also won robust legislation to protect children from junk food adverts on TV.
  • Helped re-frame the national response to the current food poverty crisis, away from food banks and towards practical solutions to household food insecurity, helping local authorities to take action and vulnerable people to eat better.
  • Facilitated establishment of the London Food Strategy, have served on the London Food Board for over a decade, and ran the Capital Growth campaign that created over 2,000 new community food growing spaces in London, working with many partner groups, the Mayor of London, local authorities and other land owners.
  • Won national public-sector standards for food served in UK hospitals, schools, prisons, government and the armed forces, to benefit hospital patients, schoolchildren, service people and those in challenging circumstances; as well as helping farmers, farm animals, sustainable fisheries and the environment.

Sustain is an unusual organisation – small, creative, friendly, supportive, responsive and highly effective. We are frequently complimented for “punching well above our weight”. We value our staff and pride ourselves on creating an organisational culture that focuses on good relationships and working together to achieve ambitious change.

Job description

Tasks and responsibilities

The Right to Food Coordinator will set priorities in a large and varied workload, in collaboration with Sustain’s Chief Executive (who will also play a lead advocacy role in this work), colleagues in Sustain’s Food Poverty team and network, and the main project partners – Just Fair, the Institute for Health & Society at the University of Newcastle and Nourish Scotland.

The Right to Food Coordinator’s principal tasks will be to consult and engage with a wide range of people and organisations, coordinating efforts to achieve specific outputs – some undertaken by the Coordinator, some by others – including (but not limited to):

  • Drawing on the recommendations of recent enquiries and commissions, creation of a list of responsible bodies, and their key responsibilities and necessary actions, that taken together would make a significant contribution to achieving implementation of a Right to Food. Consultation on what specific policies, legislation and institutional responsibilities would be needed to enable and require accountable action; as well as proposals for mechanisms to maintain implementation and momentum.
  • Creation of a Right to Food advocacy plan aiming to secure a Right to Food in UK policy and law, with early progress made to start implementing the plan, for example through initial parliamentary questions, debates and/or information events.
  • As appropriate, draft legislation that would play its role in instating a Right to Food in UK law. Note that this does not require a high level of legal expertise – this is more of a consultation, coordination and drafting management role. The Institute for Health & Society at the University of Newcastle and Just Fair will provide specialist legal expertise. They will be undertaking a consultative research programme focused on rights, and will draft options for legislative formats to achieve the Right to Food, in close collaboration with Sustain’s Right to Food programme.
  • Creation of realistic and engaging ‘beneficiary stories’, informed by lived experience, demonstrating how a Right to Food could solve chronic problems of hunger and household food security, as well as helping in the response to acute situations of food crisis.
  • Engagement in, and first-stage support for, the Right to Food approach among key people, organisations and policy-makers.
  • Collaborative reports and public communications activities informed by – for example – legal, local authority, policy and third-sector expertise.
  • A proposal for next-stage actions and funding, with buy-in from key organisations, to support implementation of the advocacy plan, as appropriate.
  • Engagement with ongoing advocacy activity to call on the UK Government to adopt a robust measure of household food insecurity.
  • Participation in the work of the Food Poverty programme team at Sustain, whose newsletter, working party, events and consultations will provide opportunities to share and consult on Right to Food news and developments.

Activities by the Right to Food Coordinator, contributing to the above outputs, are likely to include:

  • Engagement with a wide range of groups, including (but not limited to): members of the UK Food Poverty Alliance; Church Action on Poverty; End Hunger UK groups; Feeding Britain; Food Foundation; Local Government Association; Oxfam; and food partnerships that are members of the Sustainable Food Cities and/or Food Power networks – including those tackling food poverty and key academics. We may also explore connecting with international rights advocates, such as FIAN and ESCR-Net and the UN special rapporteur on the right to food.
  • Engagement with people experiencing hunger or food poverty, and the groups that work directly with them, including for example FareShare, Trussell Trust and others, to understand the frontline issues and involve people affected in the solutions.
  • Convening specialist and themed working-group meetings, and contributing to those of others, to cultivate a ‘Right to Food learning community’ exploring the need for, benefits of, and potential scope and formats for, instating a Right to Food in UK law.
  • Provision of secretariat-style services to the learning community, whilst also playing a diplomatic leadership role, for example arranging meetings, consulting on and setting the agenda, arranging speakers, facilitating discussions, arranging note-taking, reporting on outcomes and chasing actions.
  • Collaborative and consultative assessment of options, resulting in decisions and actions; sometimes resulting in co-branded publications to illustrate emerging thinking and sectors coming on board, and to demonstrate growing support.
  • Presentations at relevant meetings, events and conferences organised by others; also organising one or more larger events to share progress and generate support.
  • Communications activities to provoke informed debate on the Right to Food among specialist and public audiences – principally in the UK, but potentially also internationally – generating a buzz of interest in the Right to Food approach.
  • Creation and stewardship of specialist pages on the Sustain website.
  • Developing relevant assets, working with Sustain’s designer(s) and Head of Digital.
  • Publication of specialist monthly news to inform interested groups, and the wider network of interested individuals and organisations, plus cultivation of interest and discussion via social media.
  • Undertaking monitoring and evaluation tasks to demonstrate value and effectiveness, and to inform learning as we go along.
  • Reporting on progress to the project working group, Sustain Council and the project funder.

The Right to Food Coordinator will also:

  • Contribute to the mutually supportive culture of Sustain, among the staff team, and project participants.
  • Develop fundraising activities to enhance or extend projects or develop new ones, contributing ideas and expertise to project development (and sometimes fundraising) initiatives that may be of benefit to the aims of the programme.
  • Maintain excellent financial and other records, to help with accountability and openness to public scrutiny.
  • Help Sustain ensure that any policy and advocacy work is undertaken within the constraints of legislation that governs charitable activity and controls lobbying, particularly in pre-election periods.

The role is based in Sustain’s London office, and is likely to involve travel nationally, occasionally with overnight stays, to enable wide participation by others, and Sustain’s contribution to occasional regional events and conferences. The post holder will also undertake any other responsibilities in connection with the project that may arise from time to time.

Person specification


  • Experience of liaising diplomatically, flexibly and effectively with diverse organisations to achieve shared aims.
  • Exceptional oral and written communications skills. Whilst specialist legal expertise may be useful, it is not an essential requirement. However, an appreciation of the care and precision of legal writing is important; as well as the ability to turn technical material into accurate yet digestible public communications for varied audiences.
  • Editorial experience, especially managing input from diverse people and organisations.
  • Experience of getting media coverage, and working on publications and press releases, especially involving more than one contributing organisation.
  • Experience of successfully advocating policy change, and an appreciation of the factors that make an effective advocacy and campaign plan, especially to influence policy-makers and purse-holders.
  • Proven interest in the issues, and convincing knowledge of relevant initiatives and approaches to alleviating food poverty, especially those looking at policy and legal interventions in food or a related field.
  • Energy, enthusiasm, creativity and tenacity.
  • Entitlement to work in the UK (Sustain is not able to assist with applications for work permits).
  • Availability to commence work promptly following the recruitment process.


  • Experience of working on policy, preferably in a relevant subject. Some experience of legal and parliamentary approaches would be advantageous.
  • Working knowledge of local authorities, their services, opportunities and constraints.
  • An interest in, and knowledge of, the “rights-based approach” to addressing social and/or other issues.
  • Personal interest in food, farming and fishing issues and their implications for health, social justice and sustainability.
  • Experience of being a spokesperson in the media and/or at meetings and conferences.
  • Experience of managing volunteers.
  • Good track record in fundraising.


CV and covering letter addressing the person specifications set out in the job description above should be sent by email to Kath Dalmeny (kath@sustainweb.org). Shortlisted applicants may be asked to make a short presentation at the interview on a topic to be provided to candidates before the interview. This presentation is not required for the first-stage application process.

Application deadline

The application deadline for this post is 5pm, Monday 9th October 2017. Candidates to be invited for interview will be notified by Thursday 12th October 2017. Interviews will take place on Thursday 19th October in a venue in central London, to be confirmed. We envisage this post starting in early November 2017. Unfortunately, we are unable to give feedback to candidates not invited to interview. We encourage applications from anyone with relevant skills and interests, but regret that we are unable to assist with finding accommodation, nor with visa applications.