People living without kitchen space deserve control over what they eat.
Cook Up provides a kitchen space for people without one. It is a new pilot project providing a safe and welcoming space for people who are homeless to improve their health and wellbeing through cooking.
A gap in provision emerging from our research
We know from our research that people who are homeless can have limited options when it comes to food choices. People living in hostel accommodation don’t always feel safe in their kitchen space, those in B&B accommodation may only have a microwave or kettle, and people living on the streets have no kitchen facilities at all. Although there are much needed initiatives supplying meals to people who are homeless, as far as we know, there are no initiatives helping them to cook their own food. While existing initiatives meet a basic need for food, they do not empower people to choose their own meals. Cook Up will support people who are homeless to cook their own meal and choose what they eat, in line with our mission, enabling people to seek solutions to the issues affecting their lives.
How does it work?
Quaker Social Action will be hiring a welcoming, fully equipped and socially distanced kitchen space in South Islington where people with experience of homelessness can book a two hour slot to cook a dish of their choice. They can choose to eat there alongside other cooks with experience of homelessness, or they can batch cook several meals to take away with them. Cooks are supported by a project manager with a background in nutrition who can advise on healthier options.
Our theory of change is that having control over what to eat, and confidence in cooking can inspire cooks to think about what other areas of their lives they can take control of to increase their wellbeing. And having the space and time to consider and prepare a meal, with advice to hand, will lead to healthier eating choices, and hence better physical health.
Who can cook?
Cook Up is for people who are homeless, including people sleeping rough, sofa surfing, squatting, living in a hostel, night shelter or B&B, living in poor conditions that affect their health or at risk of violence or abuse at home.
We plan to begin this project in May 2021.