We are pleased to announce to that our new Cash First Toolkit - designed to support Community Food staff and volunteers with knowledge, skills and confidence around Cash First - has been published! 

What is Cash First?

Cash first approaches provide people directly with money, pathways to money, or vouchers, making them an effective and dignified form of support for people facing hardship. Where appropriate, they are an alternative to food banks referrals or in-kind support.

Why Cash First?

Cash offers flexibility for people to decide what their immediate needs are, whether they be purchasing the essentials, buying school shoes for their child, paying an energy bill, or paying down debt to get on a more secure financial footing. It can have an immediate impact on people’s lives.

What do we need to apply a Cash First Approach?

TRUST - Frontline staff need to be given the trust and autonomy to make decisions about how best to help individuals.

TIME - There needs to be some time dedicated to embedding a cash first approach within the organisation such as building procedures and applying for funding. Conversations about money with service users also take time.

TRAINING - Training for staff at all levels within an organisation improves confidence and ability to deliver a cash first approach effectively.

KNOWLEDGE - A good knowledge and understanding of the services available to service users within the city is essential to applying a cash first approach.

RESPECT - Service users must be treated with dignity and respect to know how best to use a cash grant for themselves and their family.

Edinburgh Community Food, with support from our partners*, have created a Cash First Toolkit to support community food groups to embed this approach within their organisation. Download the ECF Cash First Toolkit here:

ECF Cash First Toolkit


Information and Resources  

There are lots of organisations supporting a Cash First approach.  See below for a list of places and organisations to go when seeking support:

Organisations for everyone:

  • Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) 

Order free copies of their ‘Worrying about money?’ leaflet here: https://www.foodaidnetwork.org.uk/cash-first-leaflets 

    • Community Help and Advice Initiative (CHAI)

    Free appointments for advice around money problems, employability and housing at their head office or outreach locations : https://chaiedinburgh.org.uk/where-we-work/ 

    • Citizens Advice Edinburgh

    Free advice appointments around money problems, benefits and employment at their 5 offices and outreach locations:


    • Granton Information Centre


    • City of Edinburgh Council

    The Advice Shop:

    • assistance with all aspects of welfare rights including income maximisation through welfare benefits, tax credits and grants
    • debt advice to resolve personal debt including credit cards, bank loans, rent arrears, personal loans, store cards, catalogues and mortgage arrears

    • help for people affected by cancer through information, advice and advocacy to access entitlements arising as a result of a cancer diagnosis and the extra costs of cancer.


    Cost of living webpages:

    • Services and advice for those struggling with the rise in the price of food, energy and other bills.


      Cash First and Benefits Training:  

      • Community Help and Advice Initiative (CHAI)


      • City of Edinburgh Council - The Advice Shop  

      Money Counts Training [email protected]

      • Social Security Scotland

      Contact [email protected] to arrange training session

      Organisations supporting people with specific needs:

      • VOCAL

      Support, advice and services for people caring for someone with additional support needs such: 


      • One Parent Families Scotland

      Budgeting, benefits and money advice and support for single parents as well as other services:


      • Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership    

      Support for people with specific needs including people living with disability, learning disability, addiction, long term conditions and   mental health issues.


      Employability Support  

      • Capital City Partnership


      • Joined Up For Jobs


      • Start Scotland


      • All In Edinburgh


      • Edinburgh College


      • Habour

      Job Opportunities  


      • Edinburgh Community Food



      • Saheliya



      *We are grateful to the following organisations for their input and support around developing our Cash First Toolkit: IFAN, CHAI, NHS Public Health, City of Edinburgh Council, ECHF, Capital City Partnership, PCHP, Edinburgh Food Project, EVOC, Edinburgh Advice Partnership, Poverty Alliance