A conversation with Shadow Environmental Secretary and Great British Menu Chef

Darlington’s Great British Menu finalist spells out future for North East’s food and drinks sector post Covid

Darlington’s Ruth Hansom, BBC Great British Menu Finalist, joined Luke Pollard MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Minister in an online discussion with Jessie Joe Jacobs, Labour’s Tees Valley Mayoral candidate to look at the impact of the Covid Crisis on the food and drink sector.

In the online discussion hosted by Jessie Joe Jacobs with the young TV star, Ruth shares about her own journey of moving to London at 15 years old because saying there were many more opportunities in London and says what’s happening to the sector is heart-breaking, but there is also hope.

Ruth says “You see people who have worked taking something from nothing to get a restaurant up and running and it’s their life, their soul and they’re there sometimes 16 hours a day and they get something out of their jobs which is making people happy and you take that away and people feel they have lost their purpose, they don’t know what to do.

But Ruth goes on to say on the flip side, “People will come back after this crisis with a better work life balance. It has highlighted that employees in the sector need more time off and there needs to be a sustainability in their own lives in the future.”

Luke Pollard agreed saying “Food and drink manufacturing is the largest manufacturing sector in the whole country, it’s not airplane wings, it’s not cars. It’s food and drink.

“We need to value more those who work in this sector much more but we also need an urgency in supporting local businesses, providing the opportunities to grow, by encouraging people to buy local, supporting them with a platform to enable buying local, but also provide grants and funding.”

Jessie Joe Jacobs said, “Food and drink has often been described as the Cinderella of the North East economy. It employs extremely large numbers of people, enriches our lives in significant ways and adds to the cultural landscape in ways few other sectors do and yet is often overlooked and overshadowed.

“This needs to change. Coming back bigger and better after Covid means having a much stronger focus on food and drink and also on how we support local producers, manufacturers and businesses in more strategic ways. We also need to ensure we value those that work within the sector much more.”

Link to the Facebook Live: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=239914307421571&ref=watch_permalink