Cookery project helps tackle poverty and isolation
published on 7 Apr 2022
A wartime-themed project that teaches simple cooking skills on a low budget is helping tackle poverty and isolation in Scarborough.
The church and charity’s Victory Programme is a six-week course, inspired by the community spirit and resourcefulness created during the Second World War, where participants cook tasty meals together, make new friends and gain confidence.
Run by Scarborough Salvation Army, which is based in Castle Ward, which has some of the highest levels of child poverty in the UK, the sessions also include tips on cooking for less than a pound, planning meals at home, and where to shop on a budget. The course is even more vital as the cost of living crisis worsens.
It is aimed at vulnerable adults facing homelessness or struggling with life skills, older people facing loneliness, and families on free school meals who are referred by local schools.
Lindsey Barker, who co-ordinates the programme, said: “We are taking one area - food poverty and looking at how to tackle that differently. It’s taking foodbanks to the next level and encouraging individuals and families to do a lot with little money. There is a need in the community and we’ve had some real success stories.
“It’s not only about budgeting, but it’s about confidence, friendship and meeting new people. It gives people a reason to get out. We encourage them to keep coming and engage with other Salvation Army projects, such as the weekly Kingdom Kids, a kids’ club where children get a teatime meal and their parents can socialise. It gives families continuity.”
Mum-of-two Carrieanne, 29, a volunteer who completed the programme herself after hearing about it through her children’s primary school, said: “I was fed up with being stuck in my flat and wanted to get out, so this sounded ideal.
“We cooked a lot of meals that the kids enjoy, such as bacon hotpot, chicken and veg curry, which was really nice, sausage rolls and pizza with a quiche base.
“We worked on cost per head, which helps out with money. It has helped me financially as I can cook stuff that lasts a couple of days now that I am planning meals.”
Carrieanne moved onto the six-week graduate course, which costs £1.50 and focuses on baking skills, and has introduced her sister and mum to the programme. Now, as a volunteer she helps set up the room and help participants cook, passing on the skills that she learned.
She added: “I get to see other people gaining from the course. Volunteering has helped me socialise more, and it has helped my confidence.”
The course has opened up other areas of The Salvation Army to Carrieanne and her family, who now attend Kingdom Kids every Monday.
Corps officer Major Stephen Noble, who leads Scarborough Salvation Army with his wife Captain Angela Noble, said: “The need we have is growing but it is about approaching that need differently. Previously we ran a food bank but that is like a sticking plaster. We are moving into education and away from food provision, giving a hand up rather than a hand out.
“We pick up small groups of six to eight and educate them so they have the skills to feed themselves and their kids. It might seem simple, but one mum had never peeled potatoes. Some people don’t have the basics. We hear of other issues such as children not using knives and forks.”
Building relationships with schools through the programme has also led to the setting up of Kids Closet, which provides new school uniforms, swimwear, bedclothes, socks, toiletries and headlice treatment. Other initiatives include breakfast packs given out during half-term.
Since introducing the Victory Programme last year, the Corps has run six courses.
Stephen added: “With enough finance, we could double up on provision. But we need cookers, food, and at the end of the course we give a small gift to participants for their kitchen, such as a hand blender. We want to keep this going as it is working really well.”
If you would like to donate to help fund the courses or to find out more please email email@example.com or phone 01723 378603.