Sandwell Advocacy’s Caring Cooks Project

Caring Cooks Project - Sandwell Advocacy

In October 2018, we at Sandwell Advocacy were successful in a bid to The Peoples Postcode Lottery for the Caring Cooks project.  This application came about as a result of comments made at one of the Young Carers Forums.  We were talking about the future of Sandwell as part of Sandwell 20/30 Vision and a number of the young carers expressed their concerns about the lack of homeless shelters and the increasing number of Food Banks and the need for both.  One family have needed to use their local foodbank and the young carer asked us “What do you do with pilchards?”  A simple question which resonated with us.  “What do you do with pilchards?”  We then started to talk about other tinned food given out by the Food Banks and asked if they knew how to cook with these ingredients.  It soon became apparent that the young carers didn’t have a vast knowledge of making meals from scratch and so the Caring Cooks application was conceived.

This year long project sets out to teach the young carers how to make healthy meals from scratch using food bank ingredients ensuring they maintain the correct levels of hygiene in the home as well as staying safe around the kitchen.  During Autumn and Spring we visited Salop Drive Market Gardens where they made pumpkin lanterns for Halloween, cooked butternut squash soup and planted crops ready for the summer ahead.  During one such visit they also had a session of Basic Food Hygiene from First Response Trainers.

All of the work on this project has been filmed, recorded and photographed and is available online.  Reel Access have delivered a number of sessions where the young carers have learned all of these skills and they are now confident with using cameras and audio equipment as well as editing photographs and short clips. These films together with a digital toolkit are available on our very own YouTube channel.   A key part of the project was to equip them with the skills to use media as a way of introducing them to the Arts and alongside The Peoples Postcode Lottery was another smaller project funded by Creative Black Country whereby we had the support of an Arts Advisor from Blue & White Creative and funds to take the young carers to places they wouldn’t normally have visited and provide activities they wouldn’t normally participate in.  This included a live performance by Circus Berzercus at our 25th Anniversary event, a family day trip to Compton Verney and a session of fabric manipulation courtesy of Infamous Arts. We also had a day out at the BBC Good Food Show where we met Ainsley Harriet and watched Nadiya Hussain cooking in the main theatre.  The young people were fascinated by all of the gadgets available and they really enjoyed sampling all of the different types of food on offer.

We are really excited about this project as we have already seen so many benefits including the young people tasting different foods, being creative in the kitchen at home, adapting new recipes and showing ingenuity when they don’t have all the ingredients they need.  Have a look at our website for all the latest news from this exciting project.