Each year the National Lottery raises £500 million to support organisations like Kids Kitchen. For us, it means our sessions can be low cost for families- even FREE in some situations – but have a big social impact. We can spend more time making sure that our accessible family cooking model gets into the areas and communities where it is needed the most.
Here are five fantastic things we managed to do to support young families with our £10,000 Awards for All grant during the past year:
1) Reached More Than 100 Families Face-to-Face
We ran 25 face-to-face family cooking sessions in 10 venues in three geographic locations; East London, South East London, and Herefordshire, reaching more than 100 families.
From refreshing Rainbow Hummus Wraps and Couscous Volcanoes, to Gnocchi and Vegetable Noodle Salad, we’ve added exciting new flavours and plenty of colour to the plates of more than 100 families across the UK. Not only do our sessions arm families with key from-scratch cooking skills to take home to their own kitchens, but the recipes are healthy and nutritious, and the bonding experience is like no other.
2) Inclusive Online Playgroup
Three years ago we would have never considered a Kids Kitchen virtual playgroup, but happily Awards for All saw the potential like we did!
Session Leader Sam demonstrated how to milk an oat and cook the fresh oat milk into scrummy pancakes, make seasonal Bonfire Night Pastries and Festive Flatbreads, and cook a comforting Moroccan Chickpea Stew and ‘Mazin Sausages and Mash.
Our virtual playgroups have enabled families to take part in a group activities, feel more supported and less isolated, despite any barriers they might usually face when attending sessions for under fives.
We have taken what we’ve learned from these online sessions to start collaborating with organisations working with specific groups – for example, we are offering online sessions specifically for ‘kinship’ carers who are looking after relatives / friends’ children.
Find out more about our upcoming online playgroups for all parents plus kinship carers by clicking here.
3) Ingredients and Activity Bags
One participating parent said “My kids had so much engagement and fun. They tried new food and ate more vegetables which is very inspiring for the future. We will continue cooking together’’
We are now working with the Early Help team in Waltham Forest on a weekly recipe club. Find out more about our Recipe Club Waltham Forest, and contact your local Early Help Practitioner to get involved.
If you’re a service provider, please get in touch if you would like to work with us on a similar project in your community.
4) Flexible Work for Parents
In addition to supporting parents and young families attending our sessions, we’ve supported ourselves as parents – to work, volunteer, and strengthen the bonds with our own children. If you’re interested in training with Kids Kitchen to run family cooking sessions in your community, click here for full details.
5) Connecting Hundreds of Families
We have built a fantastic community of families meeting and cooking – over 200 families were part of this Kids Kitchen project alone, and around a quarter of those families have developed long-term connections after taking part.
Our session leaders have observed parents discovering that they live nearby to one another and visit the same park with the kids. They have observed parents connecting with one another, sharing advice and stories about their own journeys into parenthood and experiences of weaning.
The children also play really nicely together, making full use of the space available at our wonderful community venues. It’s great for them to meet new kids and have that socialisation.
We saw our needs as communities change through the year – starting with lots of socially-distanced outdoor sessions, with delivered ingredients bags, and culminating in more indoor sessions and more confident attendees.
As the year went on, we enjoyed a number of positive outcomes from our outdoor family cooking experiences and community partners. So we are continuing to plan similar sessions with other community groups and spaces to build on this experience.
If you’re inspired by what we’ve achieved at Kids Kitchen, your community group can apply for funding here.