Cooking well for long term health and wellbeing

10th June 2021

Groundwork North East & Cumbria help communities develop life skills and employability in young people and adults. It oversees the ‘Choices’ programme in West Cumbria, which aims to improve the employability and prospects of disadvantaged people.

£6,000 from the Beeby Fund, Cumbria Fund and the Solway Fund contributed to the charity’s Cook Well on a Budget programme, aimed at people aged 25 and over living in West Cumbria.  The programme included 16 weeks of healthy eating cookery sessions and supported 36 participants.

Due to the pandemic, the programme was delivered online on a one-to-one basis or via group sessions and included budgeting, benefits of healthy foods, and food safety tips.

Paul had limited skills when it came to cooking, however he had a great deal of enthusiasm. Paul really enjoyed his live sessions and watching the YouTube videos created for the programme. Paul continues to cook once a week, using the resources he received and he also completed a Food Hygiene certificate which he passed and gained the full qualification.

Another participant, Miriam, had anxieties about eating many types of foods, so cooking was a big problem for her. These anxieties can make people feel like they will become ill and Miriam had battled with food for a long time.

Miriam said: “I can honestly say I now have such a better relationship with food! Everything tasted brilliant and the learning was fun and relaxing. I never felt rushed at all. We were shown step by step techniques on how to make the dish, then we set off on our own to try the recipes while always being attentively aware if we ever needed help. I have absolutely loved the past eight weeks and I’m so chuffed to have actually made some edible meals.”

Tamsin Beattie, Choices Partnership Lead, said: “Every participant reported to have learned a lot through the programme about how to cook in a cost-effective way, preparation skills, motivating themselves and families to cook nutritious meals, and how to retain a healthy lifestyle. Overall, participants reported their cooking experience to be positive and to have led to improvements in outcomes such as greater self-confidence. Some participants even progressed onto the NOCN Level 2 Award in Food Safety in Catering qualification delivered by Choices while attending sessions.”