Suzanne Fletcher is the founder of Nutrition Scotland, a social enterprise delivering community food and nutrition services based in Glasgow. She has a Masters in Human Nutrition (Public Health) and is an Association for Nutrition regional representative in Scotland.
Suzanne gained experience working in public health nutrition research, NHS health improvement and the third sector before establishing Nutrition Scotland in 2018. Motivated by her own experiences and values, she wanted to build a business that creates positive social change. Suzanne works directly with families and individuals living in disadvantaged circumstances to provide free services. A strong collaborative approach has brought about very effective partnership projects with schools, businesses, other statutory and third sector organisations.
How did you feel when you found out you were awarded the Nutritionist of the Year?
Shocked, surprised, delighted, amazed and honoured! There was some very tough competition, so I wasn’t expecting to win the award. Huge amounts of imposter syndrome, so I definitely didn’t (and still don’t) feel deserving of it.
What is your advice to other nutritionists?
Work hard; don’t give up on what you want to do; surround yourself with supportive people and use your education to make positive social changes.
What has been the most awarding part of your role as a nutritionist?
Seeing our social enterprise grow, seeing more awareness-raising and interest in social inequalities and healthy, sustainable diets. The third sector has so many inspirational people working to make a difference; I connect with incredible people every day. I love community work, working with children, young people and their families, working with schools and other third sector organisations.
Working for yourself is hard work, but my role is so varied, we can make fast decisions, respond quickly and trial different approaches easily. Third sector organisations shone brightly when the pandemic hit because of this ability to be flexible and respond quickly. I’m in the most rewarding role I’ve ever had; I feel like I’m doing something worthwhile, this drives me.
What have you gained from the award Nutritionist of the Year?
It has raised the profile of Nutrition Scotland. I think it has helped build funder and customer confidence in our services and the delivery of these. Those with little awareness of the different types of nutritional services available can see this endorsement from a very well-respected, evidence-based organisation, which obviously reflects on us and gives them some assurance.
I was also recently nominated by the Human Nutrition Department at the University of Glasgow for the World-Changing Alumni Award. Although I didn’t win, I was highly commended by the committee. I’m so proud of this; at our graduation ceremony, the University highlighted the privilege of education and encouraged us to use this to change the world for the better. This stuck with me, and it was an incredible honour to have this recognised.
What are the benefits of being recognised by CWT as an inspirational nutritionist?
I’ve been working on the Nutrition Scotland venture a lot longer than people realise, since 2016. There’s been a lot of learning, hard work and knockbacks on the way and the CWT award was the first official acknowledgement of support from our profession. I have a constant fear of failure and unending doubt, so it made me very emotional to find out I’d been recognised in this way. It has given me confidence in my goals, my approach and my abilities. There’s a huge psychological benefit to having support and recognition from an organisation that is so well regarded; this helps me through the periods of self-doubt.
How did you celebrate when you found out you won Nutritionist of the Year?
I was having a lockdown walk in the Botanic Gardens in Glasgow with a friend and fellow nutritionist when I found out. She has seen the amount of work put in, heard all the ups and downs and has been one of my biggest supporters. So, it was brilliant to be with her when the news came through and to share the moment.
I returned home to tell everyone, and I enjoyed the huge fuss that was made of me with flowers and cards! I was really spoilt and blown away to see how proud my family and friends were.
What has been your biggest challenge as a nutritionist?
The biggest challenges have been trying to get the support and attention of those who can help me move forward with Nutrition Scotland, trying to convey a vision and prove a concept with very limited resources in constant development. Once people start to recognise what you’re doing and offer some support, things start to change; it gets a bit easier, but there are constant challenges, we’re still very early stage.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I have incredible support at home. I couldn’t have committed the time and effort to Nutrition Scotland without the unshakable support of my partner and children. Tenacity and resilience have been needed in abundance! I block out the doubters (including myself!) and focus on improving by continuing to learn from mistakes and successes.
You can find more information about Suzanne’s award-winning nomination on her CWT Nutritionist of the Year page.
Interview by Michelle Slater
CWT Annual Awards Committee Member
© 2021 The Caroline Walker Trust