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Congleton Learning Partnership

Prism’s fundraising arm PETT, is helping CLC to change lives for generations with a fresh approach to cookery

Through fundraising, PETT is supporting Cheshire Learning Partnership to teach people how to cook wholesome inexpensive family meals and get healthier.

From training to tapas

14 years ago the Cheshire Learning Partnership set up with the goal of teaching people basic IT and pre-employment skills.  Fast forward to today and they’ve helped thousands of people to gain new skills and qualifications, and support them with realising their own goals.  From chatting to people attending their clubs and courses over the years, many participants were frequently saying how they were relying on expensive unhealthy microwave meals and takeaways for family dinners because they didn’t know how to cook or were in a rut with meal ideas.  Having a light bulb moment in 2016, they realised that if they could secure funding then they could develop a course to teach people how to cook easy healthy meals on a budget and lead them to a healthier lifestyle whilst saving money.   That’s when their course ‘Cooking from Scratch’ was born offering people a chance to learn how to cook a new meal each week, carry out meal planning, write shopping lists on a budget and about food hygiene.

Like all charities, the Cheshire Learning Partnership relies on the support of local businesses to help with funding, so securing money would be the key to getting their course off the ground.  Having initially secured Skills Agency Funding as a sub-contractor for Cheshire East Lifelong Learning to launch the course, it quickly became oversubscribed and they needed another injection of money to enable them to grow and reach more people. Turning to PETT for help, PETT held a fundraising Christmas party called ‘Winter Wonderland’ raising £3,500 for the course.

The difference PETT’s funding makes

At the start the cookery course, which has places for around 10 people, ran over 6 weeks for 2 hours per week.  The course took place in a room hired through the charity, Ruby’s fund  and was reliant on one cooking kit. The new funding from PETT means that they have been able to purchase a fully portable kitchen kit with enough equipment to take 14 people at a time.  The portable kit, which includes hobs and tables, means that they can add more dates and places and they’re now running 4 courses concurrently.

Have kitchen will travel

The beauty of having the portable kitchen kit means that they can take the courses to areas where they are needed most.  They have expanded their courses to more deprived areas, running them in across many venues throughout Cheshire. They’re promoting the course more widely too, advertising in local newspapers and communicating it via Health Visitors, social media to young Mums and Dads, to ex Service Men, via Charities and to Local Housing Associations.

Eggcellent ideas

Using seasonal produce and simple ingredients provided by the Cheshire Learning Partnership, their three cooking Tutors, Emma a Home Economics Teacher, Cath who has an NVQ in cookery and Ruth who has a teaching qualification, have created a fun environment offering people the chance to learn how to cook.  The course includes a wide variety of dishes from meatballs and paella, to fresh pizza dough and apple crumble.  The students cook enough to feed a family of 4.  They’ve even had an egg week demonstrating the many dishes that can be created using eggs followed by an egg poaching competition.

Social & supportive

Courses are free and it’s open to everyone.  Students vary from young parents, to working Mums and Dads to older people who are all stuck in a cooking rut and want new fresh ideas, or simply have never been taught how to cook.  Students are also taught how to budget and about the advantages to your pocket on buying seasonal produce. Another great reason for signing up is the dishes made in class can be taken home.  However it’s not all work, there is a sociable side too, with the tutor cooking food for everyone to sit down and eat afterwards.

The Future

With such demand, Adele Cook, Managing Director at The Cheshire Learning Partnership says they will continue to take the course to as many people as they possibly can and the fundraising generated by PETT will be instrumental to this.

“Without Prism’s continued support the growth and development of the course wouldn’t be where it is today.  140 families have benefited from our ‘Cooking from Scratch’ course to date where we’ve students have created over 3,000 delicious meals.  Food is a daily staple and to know that we’ve helped someone cook a homemade meal from scratch for their family or introduce them to a food they’ve never tasted before is hugely satisfying.  We’re helping people to think about what they’re eating and cooking for themselves and their families, to choose better ingredients to cook with, make wiser food choices and by default live a healthier lifestyle.  As long as the course is in demand, then we’ll be here to run it and find the funding to make it happen.  Without companies like Prism none of this would be possible”.