At a weekly summer holiday club, children who are entitled to free school meals in Blaydon, Gateshead, learnt a variety of new skills, including how to cook on a budget – they even took ingredients home to create the dish again for their families!
The Salvation Army and Trinity Methodist Church– with support from other churches - ran the weekly summer club at Blaydon Community Centre, where they encouraged young people to try their hand at new skills, take part in exercise and learn about healthy living.
Blaydon Salvation Army team leader Alison Dare said: “As a team of churches in the community, we want to see every person recognise their God-given potential, value and worth and to have an opportunity to live their life to the full. To help our children do that, they have spent the summer with us learning about healthy living, enjoying exercise through lively play, taking time to be creative and have even learnt to prepare safely and cook healthy meals on a budget for their families.”
The children received team points during the week for trying new foods, cooking their new recipes for their family at home and also for how they helped each other and the staff team during the club.
Deacon Tracey Hume (Trinity Methodist Church, Blaydon) said: “This has been a fantastic partnership between the churches in Blaydon but the important thing for us all this summer was for the club to be so much more than a babysitting service for parents. We wanted children to have a fun summer, to meet new friends and to learn important skills that would aid their development and that they could take into adult life.”
The Salvation Army is currently preparing to launch a similar fun social experience for adults in the area with a Second World War twist. In Autumn, the Victory Programme will commence - the second of its kind after a successful pilot project launched in Crook in 2014.
The six-week courses run free of charge and Blaydon has adapted the programme to include a special focus on the parents of preschoolers and school-aged children who can often find ‘me’ time as tight as their budgets and who can feel isolated while their children are at school. The small groups will cook and eat together as well as learn to grow their own food; all themed around the wartime campaign of ‘Dig for Victory’.
Alison said: “Living in a time of austerity can be tough, so we want to draw from the experiences of the wartime generation who had great tips for healthy living on a restricted budget and, together, enjoy preparing free food, cooking meals, eating together, discovering top tips on how to find the best bargains and even have an opportunity to grow and eat our own food! We have spent the summer working with the children to see their potential and value, and now we want to encourage others in the community to experience this, too.”