This research report is focused on Centrestage’s distinct food provision programme in some of the most deprived areas of North and East Ayrshire; it describes how Centrestage achieves impact, empowers individuals and communities, and draws lessons to inform policy and practice.

Centrestage internal data for the first 42 weeks of mobile food provision In the areas of Drongan, Rankinsto, Ardeer, Fullarton and Pennyburn covered in this study there were: 17,799 beneficiaries; 9720 attendees aged 4 weeks to 80+ years ; 8,079 received food through the attendance of others; 140,440 portions distributed; giving a year 1 projection of 173,878 portions (vs. 60,000 initially estimated).; £18,360.71 received as #payitforward donations; 3,967 hours of children’s play; 28 active volunteers. Adding all food provision (e.g. including summer food projects) there were: 31,546 beneficiaries; 159,368 food portions distributed; £22,190.71 in #payitforward donations ; 27,359 hours of children’s play; 44 active volunteers across the areas

Infographic showing Centrestage food provision. Click on the image to see a larger version


The Centrestage Catalyst Communities programme seeks to help people to access support, address underlying problems, build relationships and develop capacity for community action.

The need for food provision is growing in the UK and the shame and stigma of resorting to foodbanks are significant barriers to access for those needing support Solving food poverty and the causes of increased foodbank use may take time; meanwhile, there is a clear need for immediate innovations in the provision of services.

Centrestage is a charity, backed by the social enterprise Centrestage Music Theatre CIC, that uses food and the arts to engage people, help to improve their life chances and (re)build communities.

The research was focused on Centrestage’s distinct food provision programme in some of the most deprived areas of North and East Ayrshire, with fieldwork carried out between May and July 2016.

The research questions covered three dimensions:

  • How does Centrestage make a difference? Values, practices, organisational culture and leadership.
  • What difference does Centrestage make? Immediate, intermediate and long term impact.
  • What lessons can be drawn to inform policy and practice? Scope for spread and sustainability.

The research set out to understand how Centrestage achieves impact and draw lessons to inform policy and practice.

The overarching conclusion is that Centrestage offers a distinct approach to food provision by creating a social environment as well as a dignified transaction. The study demonstrates the importance of social space and interaction when it comes to dignified food provision.

Oliver Escobar and Fiona McKenzie at the launch of the Centrestage report in January 2017

Oliver Escobar and Fiona McKenzie at the launch of the report in January 2017

As illustrated throughout this report, social attitudes and pressures can make people put on a public performance, while hardship remains hidden and need goes unmet. Centrestage has developed what they refer to as a ‘stealth approach’, whereby the emphasis is on ‘having fun’, on reaching out to people as well as meeting need and, in a subtle but real way, this keeps their projects dignified.

Public service reform is about more than the public sector, and the Centrestage case study illustrates how the third sector contributes to advancing the Christie agenda. Throughout the report we explore how it contributes to empowering individuals and communities to be part of their own service, involving them in the design and delivery.

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More details

Authors: Briege Nugent, independent research consultant and criminologist, and Oliver Escobar

Publication date: 10 January 2017.

Type of publication: Research report

Events: Research report launch

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