From healthier Christmas Biscotti to 10-minute noodles, the free cooking classes teach participants tasty but nutritional recipes that can be replicated easily at home.
Each of the cooking courses are led by a qualified nutritionist and on average six participants attend the classes each week to learn new recipes, gain knowledge about ingredients and develop their cooking abilities.
Made possible by almost £30,000 funding from the Health Inequalities Fund which is hosted by VODA and funded by North Tyneside Council and the NHS North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board, the classes are part of the Linkskill and North Tyneside Development Trusts commitment to helping its community improve its health.
Participants on the courses include parents and carers and dedicated classes run after school for children, young people and young carers.
With the cost-of-living impacting households across the borough, the courses also include meal planning on a budget, and teach parents how to make healthier meals for the whole family while still keeping costs as low as possible.
One of the popular courses is ‘Takeaway a Fakeaway’ where recipes have ranged from homemade, tasty Indian curries to Asian soy noodles. The aim is to encourage participants to opt to make their own healthier meals rather than order a takeaway.
Yossra has attended the Fakeaway course and reflecting on her experience she said: “I’ve learnt a lot on the course. I’ve learnt how to be patient and layer my flavours to make my food taste better and now I pay more attention to the ingredients I’m using and try and make my meals healthier where I can.”
Dorothy has also enjoyed the classes and thanks them for helping to build her confidence in the kitchen: “I cook and bake a lot more now and I’ve used everything I’ve learned at the classes to try my own recipes.
“It’s great to come along each week and learn new recipes, try new flavours and my husband loves that we’re making healthier stuff together. He asks to try all my new recipes!”
The Trust has also used the funding to increase the capacity of its allotment to grow more fruit and vegetables, meaning that young and old people have come together promote health, wellbeing and learning.
Anya Paradis, Director of Place (North Tyneside) NHS North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board, said “Eating a well-balanced diet is so important for your health. It provides you with the energy you need to keep active throughout the day, nutrients you need for growth and repair, helping you to stay strong and healthy and help prevent diet-related illness, such as some cancers. These cooking courses are helping people understand the link between what we eat and what our body needs to stay healthy. They set a strong foundation for not only participants, but also their family members in eating healthily for a longer and healthier life.”
Cllr Karen Clark, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing at North Tyneside Council, said: “Reducing health inequalities is really important to us and community organisations like the Linskill Trust are at the heart of our communities and make an invaluable contribution to working directly with our residents to tackle inequalities.
“Encouraging residents to make healthier choices is great, but to equip them with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to continue to make better choices and pass them onto their family is fantastic. Hearing first hand from participants how these cooking courses have translated into their everyday life is exactly what we aimed to achieve with the fund.”
The Health Inequalities Fund, developed by the members of the Better Together group, awarded grants of between £10,000 and £30,000 to fourteen Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector organisations in Summer 2022.
All funded activities focus on delivering outcomes relating to the key themes of the recently published Equally Well strategy for North Tyneside – ‘Equal life chances for all’, ‘Thriving places and communities’ and ‘Maintaining independence’.
Laura Bolden, North Tyneside Council