What does dignity mean to you? How we respond to food insecurity matters.

Food insecurity is a persistent problem in the UK. Around 1 in 10 people worry about putting food on the table. A sustainable way of resolving this issue is to ensure everyone has sufficient income – either through fair work or social security – and we urgently need reforms that bring about this change. However, in the interim, local agencies, community food initiatives and food banks are stepping up to support people in crisis.

Nourish Scotland training in Southwark, London

Written by Anna Chworow, Nourish Scotland

Since 2016 Nourish Scotland, the lead partner for Sustainable Food Places (SFP) in Scotland, has been working with charitable food projects on addressing food insecurity with human rights centred approaches. Nourish Scotland wanted to explore how best to support people who face difficult circumstances in a way that also protected their dignity. In dialogues with people connected to food banks - as staff, volunteers or people who have experience using them –we wanted to understand what matters to people most.

Though these conversations it became clear that Dignity meant feeling:

  • A sense of control
  • Able to take part in community life
  • Nourished and supported
  • Involved in decision-making
  • Valued and able to contribute

These guideposts – the Dignity in Practice Principles – are now a good practice framework for dozens of community food initiatives. They provide a springboard for reflection and conversations about how organisations can innovate and adapt how they support people who fall on hard times. Nourish Scotland also prepared a set of exercises and workshops to help organisations, volunteers and support agencies in having constructive conversations about these issues.

Learn more about the Dignity in Practice Principles Framework

This approach asks participants to use their own experience of dignity as a starting point for reflection. For instance, a simple but powerful question ‘What does dignity mean to you?’ invites everyone to think about the importance of dignity to each of our lives and the nuances involved. What happens when we feel welcomed, respected, valued… or the opposite? The workshop also uses case study examples and videos to allow participants to consider how different ways of running a service can either enhance or undermine people’s sense of dignity, and the possible alternatives.

These and other resources are now freely available on Dignity in Practice website. They are particularly suitable for any working in food insecurity responses: local authorities, NHS, housing associations, academics, community food initiatives and food banks. Nourish is also working in partnership with the Independent Food Aid Network to deliver training for organisations and agencies who want to embed this approach across a local area or network.

For more information about this work, contact Irina on irina@nourishscotland.org.uk

Latest news