In Refugee Week (external link) we took a look at QSA's Cook Up service, whose participants include people seeking asylum in the UK.
QSA started Cook Up as a pilot project in 2021, after finding in our research that people who are homeless have limited options when it comes to food choices. People living in hostel accommodation may not have access to cooking facilities, or if they do they may not feel safe to use them. Those in B&B accommodation may only have a microwave or kettle; and people living on the streets have no kitchen facilities at all.
We started Cook Up to support people who are homeless to cook their own meals and choose what they eat, in line with our mission: enabling people to seek their own solutions to the issues affecting their lives.
Cook Up is now an ongoing QSA service running regularly at two venues in London: both venues sit at the heart of their respective communities, with superb facilities including large well-equipped kitchen spaces and community gardens.
Some of the people who participate in Cook Up are seeking asylum in the UK and living in government-provided accommodation - for example Sammy, in the video below, who sought asylum in the UK from Nicaragua. As Sammy's video shows, Cook Up provides important opportunities for people to prepare their own meals and, by sharing with others, to celebrate their own food cultures.
At QSA we are grateful for the warm collaboration of our partner organisations whose high quality venues have enabled Cook Up to thrive.
"We are so happy we can have the kitchen space utilised in this way. Cook Up is such a great initiative...
Without the support of QSA, the families they support who, in most cases, have no recourse to public funds would be left stranded. QSA help families to mobilise and take action to feel in control of their lives, in the smallest ways which have the biggest impact."
Partner organisation staff at one of Cook Up’s regular venues.
QSA is working on plans to share what we are learning through running Cook Up, and to expand the service's reach.