working with Hightown and clients with learning difficulties
I ran a workshop for this group in July. We had a really good turnout, three members of staff and five residents. What worked so well was that a couple of residents recognised me from some organised cooking sessions I had done with them a year or so ago, during life before covid.
The workshop was set for four hours which seemed like a long time and I did wonder if everyone would stay. They did and the hours flew by!
Although the residents knew each other really well, it was great to have an ice breaker and to set a fun laid back element to the day. A fun chat around food was had, using a variety of plastic foods - no surprise most of the foods chosen were the naughy ones! This got people talking about what foods they liked and whether they were good or bad foods. A very interesting topic.
We had lunch, which I brought with me: cooked pasta and lots of cut up veggies. We had fun putting together a salad, which for some people involved adventurous new foods
We used a workbook I had made and talked about healthy eating and what foods were full of sugar. To showcase these foods we had picture cards. We weighed out the sugar using a set of scales. Some residents were shocked to see the amount of sugar they might consume each day. This led one resident to go to her flat to bring down some of the foods that she eats, keen to know if they were good or bad. Indeed her favourite foods were a lot higher in sugar than the 30g recommended daily intake.
I was invited back to the group’s annual barbecue. It was great to see the residents again. I got to meet the parents of the residents. This made me determined to invite them to any future course too, since they are often the ones buying the food. Not only did I receive a lovely welcome, I learned about some of the changes people had made to their diets. This, at the end of the day, is what it is all about.
working with one housing
I ran an online zoom cooking/nutrition course with One Housing in Camden, we made some really yummy dishes and we all had a fun time. Recipes and tips were learned and shared and stories were told
working with carers in herts
I ran a series of cooking zoom workshops and webinars ( including e-learning)
In our webinars we covered diabetes and gluten-free cooking, these provoked some greater discussions!
Being a carer (someone who provides unpaid care to children, an elderly, sick, or disabled relative or friend) is one of the hardest but most rewarding jobs. It’s not a career choice but something that lands at your door.
Since the outbreak of Covid, the numbers of carers have increased by 4.5 million - an increase of around 50% (the numbers are based on the 2011 census). The total number of unpaid carers in the UK is 13.6 million - 1 in 4 adults. Many juggle their caring responsibilities with paid work.
Cooking meals for loved ones can be a challenge for all sorts of reasons. Making them healthy and nutritionally balanced is difficult, made harder because of time restrictions and budget constraints.
In some cases carers have to deal with food intolerances such as gluten or eggs. There may be medical conditions such as coeliac disease, diabetes or Crohns that make food preparation difficult.
Prior to the pandemic I worked with Carers in Herts running workshops. When Covid struck I was determined to keep running courses as I knew many carers would be self-isolating. They would need not only support with food but social interaction and some light relief. I was fortunate to win a grant to make this happen.
At the beginning of the course I carried out a brief survey to assess whether participants enjoyed cooking, how confident they were, and what knowledge they had about how to cook nutritious meals.
For the most part, carers were not confident in providing nutritious meals. They often used jars and packets due to time constraints. Nutrition was sacrificed for convenience.
The course was run on Zoom, for an hour twice a month. I cooked a dish with the carers watching and asking questions. As the course progressed some of the participants would cook along which added to the fun. There was demand for some additional evening sessions focused on specific topics such as gluten-free baking and diabetes.
There was great attendance with around 20 people for each session - a mixture of men and women. Some participants attended every session, others dropped in and out, and we often had new people in each session. As far as I was aware, no one knew each other before the course so new friendships were made. All the attendees shared ideas and thoughts.
A feedback survey at the conclusion came up with some interesting findings:
68% were more confident to cook and their knowledge and skills had increased.
65% said that it had enabled them to find an interest outside caring
52% felt the course had helped them be listened to.
Some of the comments: from the carers themselves
It's helped them feel less isolated by sharing the challenges of cooking for someone who is disabled or can't/won't eat certain ingredients. They've enjoyed chatting to others about something that is unrelated to caring and have appreciated the flexibility of attending over Zoom.
One participant said “Sarah’s cooking has been great fun and I have enjoyed sitting back watching. Loads of handy tips from the group means I now have a cupboard with spices and herbs and found I like quinoa and buckwheat for healthier eating."