Describe your project
Our project provides cookery lessons and social activities for local people in our community. We teach people on low incomes to cook from scratch with fresh ingredients, on a tight budget, so they can access a healthy diet. We also provide an opportunity for people to socialise in a relaxed and friendly setting, helping to reduce social isolation. Our participants include people on low incomes, older people, those with mental health conditions, people with learning difficulties, people who have had a stroke or have another physical disability, teenagers with anxiety or troubled backgrounds, and children. Our participants cook and dine together. Sometimes we bring together different generations such as teenagers and pensioners and they learn to get on with other and to understand and appreciate each others' perspectives.
How will your project benefit your local community?
Our participants learn cooking skills that help them to switch from relying on ready meals and takeaways to a healthier diet, regardless of income. Those who are unemployed and seeking work also get employment-related skills and build self-confidence. Many of our participants are socially isolated and they have an opportunity to spend time with others while learning new skills. For many it provides time out from emotional and practical stresses. Participants with mental health conditions learn recipes that incorporate a wide range of fresh ingredients, known to support improved mental health. Participants with health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes also learn dishes that help them have a healthier diet that reduces the impact or progression of the disease. Our inter-generational projects help build a sense of community. The older generation reduce their social isolation and get the stimulation of cooking alongside teenagers. The younger ones expand their horizons, learning to relate positively to people they would not normally meet. Some inter-generational sessions culminate in a fund-raising activity and the young people choose a local charity to support.
Please give details of any support you have from your local community
Many local organisations help promote our project and some have helped fund it. Eg, homeless charity Porchlight refers participants. Stonham refer ex-offenders. Schools and the local Youth Hub work with us. Mental health and disability services including NHS teams, self-help groups and charities help make our project available to their clients. Kent Community Foundation, Dover Port, The Big Lottery and others have helped fund activities so they can be free of charge to participants in need. Volunteers from the local community help us. The BBC made a short programme that aired on Inside Out in March 2018 about our inspirational volunteer who is a stroke survivor. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2xXvtdmhWA&feature=youtu.be
How big is your community? And how many people will benefit from your project?
In a typical year approximately 250 adults participate in free-of-charge cookery courses at our project. Approximately 100 children have cookery lessons during the course of a year. We will soon be starting regular coffee mornings for our elderly neighbours at Greenacres (a site of 30 chalet homes which are also off-grid and supplied by Calor). (Many others use our venue for family get togethers, dining events, team-building activities and so on, to help us be financially sustainable.)
Tell us what you intend to spend the money on.
We have been running for just over four years since building and equipping our teaching kitchen and it gets heavy use. Some of our equipment is wearing out. So we need to replace items including two ovens, six pull-up power sockets in our cooking island, lino flooring, two replacement taps in sinks, three portable induction hobs, window blinds, some light equipment including frying pans, plates and soup bowls.
When and why was your project founded?
We created our CIC in January 2013, having tried out community cookery classes for a year beforehand. In 2014 we refurbished a former pub to turn it into the cookery school.