Words: Sarah Stone, Director and Founder of Stone Barrell

As the cost of living crisis worsens, Stone Barrell partnered with Good Food Oxfordshire on a video project to help destigmatise accessing food support and encourage people to reach out if they need help. And it made it onto the BBC!

Life is getting more and more expensive in the UK due to rising costs. As a result, more people here in Oxfordshire and across the country are struggling to afford the food they need. 

But it’s hard to ask for help.

That’s why Good Food Oxfordshire reached out to us. They had an idea to help destigmatise accessing emergency food support. They wanted to record the real-life stories of people in Oxfordshire who’d needed food support, and share them with other people who may be in a similar situation – to spread the message that there’s absolutely no shame in reaching out for help. And they needed a creative communications team to make it possible.

This is the kind of project we LOVE to work on, so of course, our answer was yes.

Finding people who were willing to speak openly about their struggles accessing food wasn’t the easiest task, but Good Food Oxfordshire was able to find two people, Victoria and Nancy, who bravely agreed to share their stories. And so the project was a go.

We worked with Jess Kopp, Good Food Oxfordshire’s Network and Communications Lead, and Fiona Steel, Good Food Oxfordshire's Manager, to really understand what they wanted to learn from the interviews and who their desired audience was. Then we shaped the questions and planned the shoot. 

This project was all about hearing real-life stories from people who have experienced food insecurity in the past, in their own words. So it was really important for us to firstly make sure Nancy and Victoria understood exactly what we were interviewing them for, and that they were happy to go ahead (and free to change their minds!). And secondly, that they felt as comfortable and free as possible to share their stories, advice and experiences however they wanted. We made sure we asked very open questions and tried to make the setting as comfortable and natural as possible (recognising that an interview with cameras is never the most natural…). They both did an absolutely incredible job – articulating their very different stories powerfully, and sharing the same message for other people who may be struggling.

“It is sometimes hard to step out and ask for help,” said Victoria. “But it's out there, and it can make a huge difference.”

We edited Nancy and Victoria’s interviews down to very watchable five-minute videos, making sure the final result stayed true to their individual voices and stories. We also created four additional social media sizzles to encourage people to head to the Good Food Oxfordshire website to watch the full videos.

We’d love you to check them out too! Watch Victoria tell her story in the video at the top of this blog, and see Nancy share her story here.

The team at Good Food Oxfordshire wanted these videos to reach as many people as possible – those who may be experiencing food insecurity, but also those who have no idea what it’s like and policy makers who can help ensure there’s better provision for people like Victoria and Nancy. To help make this possible, we offered to write and send a press release to local Oxfordshire news outlets.

Within two days of launching the videos, Nancy and Victoria’s stories were showcased on BBC South Today, BBC Radio Oxford, and in the Oxfordshire Guardian. We were so excited to see their stories get shared more widely and we really hope they’ll encourage more people to access the food support they need.

If you’re reading this and struggling yourself, there are services set up to support you. If you live in Oxfordshire, head to goodfoodoxford.org/food-support to find local services that can help. There really is no shame in reaching out.

Speaking about our work together, Jess, GFO's Network and Communications Lead, said:

"We worked with Jake and Sarah from Stone Barrell on a storytelling project around the cost of living and food insecurity. Stone Barrell were brilliant to work with; professional, responsive and they dealt with the subject matter sensitively. They produced two films for us which have been well received, and have helped Good Food Oxfordshire reach new audiences to help promote access to food support. Thank you Jake and Sarah!"

Find out more about Good Food Oxfordshire and their cost of living stories project at goodfoodoxford.org. If you want to know how to better support people experiencing food insecurity, we also worked with Good Food Oxfordshire on a three-part video training series you can access at: goodfoodoxford.org/food-support

Have an important story you need help telling? We would absolutely love to chat. Drop us a message!