Westbank looking for sponsors for new community teaching kitchen
A ‘final push’ is being mounted for a Devon based venture which aims to offer free workshops on how to prepare nutritious meals from scratch with simple, affordable ingredients.
The project will be available for people of all ages and comes at a time when cooking healthily and cost-effectively has never been more important.
The idea of creating a bespoke teaching kitchen at Westbank Community Health and Care began simmering away a year ago following the Covid lockdowns.
During the pandemic, the charity distributed food boxes with fresh produce. Many of the recipients said they lacked the knowledge, skills, and confidence to make meals with the vegetables and store cupboard ingredients they had been gifted.
Since then, the sharp rise in the cost of living has forced many households, particularly those on low incomes, to stretch their grocery budget even further.
Bulk cooking, preparing meals from scratch, and minimising waste are simple ways to feed a family more affordably.
After securing a pot of fundraising for the remodelling, Westbank began transforming an empty café at its Exminster HQ into a community teaching kitchen, purpose-built to host cookery workshops for people of all ages.
The team, based near Exeter, are now seeking support from local businesses. They had an initial focus on young parents, low-income families and older, isolated people.
Organisers say the Community Cookery School at Westbank is almost ready to launch.
‘Preparing to welcome first learners’
‘Within the space of a year, we have turned the seed of an idea into reality and we’re preparing to welcome our first learners,’ explains Chris Bloye, Westbank’s Head of Business Services and Operations.
‘The kitchen looks great and is almost ready to go. We’re now looking for businesses to provide further sponsorship, supplement our supplies of ingredients or help us with all the necessary kit and equipment.’
‘We would also love to hear from people willing to give their time to support our staff in delivering the workshops.’
Chris has a background in catering, hospitality and the fitness industry. He’s overseen the remodelling to create a bespoke teaching kitchen with a height-adjustable workstation.
‘Westbank has been improving the lives of people in Devon since 1986, working with an established network of over 50 partners with whom we deliver health and social care contracts and other wellbeing initiatives,’ says CEO Sarah Hicks.
‘This is an opportunity for us to respond to people’s needs and circumstances in a different way by helping them make the most of their food, encouraging them to get creative in the kitchen and share their new skills with others.’
‘Ultimately, this will bring long-term health and well-being benefits for all involved.’
‘We welcome gifts and donations of any size and hope people will really get behind this initiative,’ says Nikki Bromley, Westbank’s Community Services Manager. She is responsible for course content and delivery.
Eight week courses: creating nutritious food
‘Our 8-week courses will start by teaching basic food hygiene and showing how to prepare wholesome sauces that can be adapted to create a variety of meals on a tight budget,’ adds Nikki.
‘By reducing people’s reliance on expensive produce like meat and enabling them to make more nutritious versions of their favourite takeaway meals at a fraction of the cost, we aim to make a real difference.’
A series of ‘taster sessions’ are being held over the summer for the charity’s staff and volunteers. The Community Cookery School at Westbank will be launched officially in the autumn.
The project has already received generous support totalling almost £74,500 from the Edward Gostling Foundation, Morrisons Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, National Lottery Community Fund/Awards for All England, Hubbub/Starbucks, 29th May 1961 Charitable Trust, Veronica Awdry Charitable Trust, The Misses Barrie Charitable Trust and Waitrose.
Imagery kindly supplied by Sharon Goble / IF Media.