Food insecurity and social support among Ghanaians living in Greater Manchester, UK: A qualitative study

Hibbah Araba Saeed joined the University of Sheffield in October 2013, as a PhD student at the School of Health and Related Research, Section of Public Health.  Prior to starting her PhD, Hibbah worked as a Research Assistant at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, Ghana.
Hibbah's PhD research is on Determinants of Dietary Behaviour among Ghanaians living in the United Kingdom.  The research adopts a mixed method research approach to explore the determinants of dietary behaviour, dietary change following migration and household food insecurity among Ghanaians living in the United Kingdom. This article presents the findings from the qualitative aspect of the study.

Food insecurity and social support among Ghanaians living in Greater Manchester, UK: A qualitative study


Background: In the UK, minority ethnic groups tend to have higher levels of poverty than the white British population and therefore may be at high risk of food insecurity. Ghanaians are thought to have a high level of social support in their communities, but the role of this resource in relation to food security is unknown. We explored perceptions of three main components of food insecurity (availability, accessibility, utilization) among Ghanaians. The role of social support in enhancing food security was explored to identify potential coping mechanisms for food insecure households.

Methods: We conducted 29 in-depth interviews using purposive sampling among Ghanaians aged ≥25yrs living in Manchester. Participants varied in socioeconomic status, gender and migration status. Utilizing a framework analysis approach, we analysed themes using the three main components of food security and also generated new themes from the data.

Findings: Overall, participants did not describe their personal experiences of food insecurity but some identified that food insecurity existed among Ghanaians in the community. Participants reported that food insecure household may be reluctant to make use of food banks because of pride/perceived social stigma. Also the type of foods served were considered culturally unappealing. This reluctance does not extend to close and trusted networks including the church. Within the church, people have trusted allies that they engage with for specific needs including financial support when needed.

Conclusion: Our analysis suggests that the church context forms a trusted base in which people operate. We recommend that to be able to reach the most deprived among the Ghanaian community, churches could be used as a channel for interventions.

Click here to view a poster about Hibbah's qualitative research study