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The Dignity Project

Between November 2016 and October 2017, with support from the Fair Food Transformation Fund, Nourish Scotland and the Poverty Truth Commission worked closely with people with lived experience of food insecurity, staff and volunteers involved in community food initiatives and wider stakeholders to explore what dignity means in practice.

The Dignity Project highlighted the importance of community food providers providing emotional and practical support to people experiencing food insecurity, as well as inclusive spaces for people in the community to access, share and enjoy food, regardless of their circumstances.

In 2018 we will continue to focus on practice development with emergency food providers and the community food sector more widely.

If you’re interested in collaborating with us or want to stay in touch about this strand of work, please fill in this form. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

Dignity in Practice resources

 The learning from the Dignity Project, and practical examples and tools to support community organisations to embed dignity in their practice, can be found in our report ‘Dignity in Practice: learning, tools and guidance for community food providers‘, which was launched in March 2018.

As part of the Dignity Project, we co-produced a range of activities and tools to support staff, volunteers and those taking part in community food initiatives to reflect on what more could be done to promote and restore dignity in practice.

You can access or download these resources by clicking on the images below:



Summary Report

A short plain text summary of project learning with case studies has been developed to support projects relate the principles in practice with the Dignity Principles.

Dignity Principles in Practice

We also developed a set of Dignity Principles in Practice to complement the Dignity Principles identified by the Independent Short Life Working Group on Food Poverty in 2016. The Dignity Principles in Practice provide a way for community food providers to reflect on the design and delivery of their work by considering the Dignity Principles from the perspective of someone experiencing food insecurity.

A sense of control
Having power to make choices about what, where, when, how and with whom you eat.

✚  Able to take part in community life
Feeling able and welcome to take part in different aspects of community life, regardless of your financial situation.

✚  Nourished and supported
Being able to enjoy food and access support that meets your needs.

✚  Involved in decision-making
Feeling able to share your views and ideas and to have those views taken seriously in decision-making.

✚  Valued and able to contribute
Feeling recognised and valued as a whole person with knowledge, skills and experiences to share.


An estimated 20-27% of people in Scotland currently experience household food insecurity.  One of the many manifestations of this has been the steadily increasing number of emergency food parcels given out by food banks.

In 2015 Scottish Ministers appointed an Independent Working Group on Food Poverty tasked to consider the issues related to food poverty and make recommendations to the Scottish Government on future actions. In their 2016 report, Dignity: Ending Hunger Together in Scotland, the Working Group identified the following four Dignity Principles to guide the design and implementation of dignified responses to food insecurity:

  1. Involve in decision-making people with direct experience.
  2. Recognise the social value of food.
  3. Provide opportunities to contribute.
  4. Leave people with the power to choose.

The Scottish Government’s acceptance of the recommendations in the report, and commitment to place ‘dignity’ at the centre of the design and delivery of responses to food insecurity (instead of, for example, ‘feeding people in need’) created a welcome opportunity for all those involved in the response to reflect on supporting people beyond charitable, emergency provision.

The Dignity Project aimed to explore and understand better the practical ways that community organisations and practitioners could bring the Dignity Principles into practice.

The project partners were clear that communities cannot be held responsible for, or bear the disproportionate burden of, food insecurity in Scotland, but, with appropriate support, the community food sector is well placed to respond to current crises and promote and restore dignity at a local level. We believe that ending household food insecurity and becoming a Good Food Nation requires all of us to work together. We will need both national action to secure decent incomes and the strategic and coordinated development of community food infrastructure to deliver on health and social inclusion.

If you have any questions about our work on Dignity or want to be involved, please e-mail Chelsea Marshall (chelsea @ and/or Olga Bloemen (olga @

Related projects & campaigns

The Dignity Project is part of the wider campaign on taking a right-based approach to food. You can find more information about Nourish’s work on this here and can sign up to receive updates about the Right to Food campaign including how to get involved here.

We’re also involved in the new ‘A Menu for Change’ partnership project with Oxfam Scotland, Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland and The Poverty Alliance, which seeks to evolve the response to food poverty in Scotland from food banks to tackling the underlying causes. You can find more information here.


We gratefully acknowledge the support provided by the Scottish Government’s Fair Food Transformation Fund, which enabled Nourish and the Poverty Truth Commission to undertake this project.