Edinburgh Community Food and the Cash First Approach

What is a Cash First approach to food insecurity?

Cash first approaches mean providing people with money, rather than emergency food or in-kind support, making them an effective and dignified form of support to people facing hardship locally.

Cash provides people with the flexibility to spend it on their immediate needs, whether that is purchasing the essentials (for example food), getting an MOT for their car, buying school shoes for their child, or paying down debt to get on a more secure financial footing. They can have an immediate impact on people’s lives.

The cash grant really relieved a lot of stress for me at the hardest financial moment of my life. I was able to put petrol in to get to work, and get some gas and electric etc.

I'd say it had a good impact on [my] mental health because knowing that you've got extra money to buy your essentials and make sure that you've got what you need for that week or for that month helps

It gives you breathing space so that you don’t panic as much as to where your money is going or how far your money can stretch.

What we have been doing around Cash First

Edinburgh Community Food have been working to embed Cash First information and resources into our work supporting low income and vulnerable communities across the city.

Our team has received training from our partners Community Help & Advice Initiative (CHAI) on benefits and grants to enable us to pass on information directly to our communities. The messages and signposting information is embedded across our community groups and training days, meaning the support gets directly to those who need it.

We share the Independent Food Aid Network’s Worrying About Money? Cash First leaflet via our deliveries of nourishing food boxes to homes & communities around Edinburgh. This leaflet, tailored to each local authority, details grants, loans and benefits that are available. Since its translation in summer 2022 we have been supplying the leaflet to the Ukrainian refugees who receive our food deliveries. It is also given out to community members attending our various projects.

Edinburgh Community Food have been funded to provide fuel payments (in addition to fresh food and cooking equipment) to around 150 carers in Edinburgh (thanks to our partnership with VOCAL). We are looking forward to being able to support Edinburgh's carers again in early 2023. We also provided payments to vulnerable Community Café customers (via our Scottish Government funded Take 5 Access programme). At Community Cafes ECF supported partners CHAI and  Granton Information Centre to provide “Ask & Act” information points, allowing people to receive supported signposting where staff take people through the process of applying for support.