Specialist work for specific cohorts

Over the years, we’ve supported thousands of people, many of whom come to us with special requirements, so we have developed specialist programmes to meet their specific needs, ensuring that they’re accessible and inclusive.

We work with different organisations and commissioners to adapt our course content and methods to meet a range of requirements.

Diabetes and diabetes prevention

We’ve been commissioned by the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme to support those who find following its dietary guidelines difficult.

Our work uses practical learning to show participants how to substitute carbohydrates to manage their blood sugar levels; eat more whole grains and pulses, how to substitute red meat with veggie alternatives, and how to avoid salt.  We have achieved excellent results with this group.

Care leavers

Many young people find they have to fend for themselves after leaving care and can become reliant on takeaways and ready meals, which are bad for their health and bad for their finances.  Equipping young people with the skills and – in particular – motivation to cook for themselves is vital at this critical time in their lives.

In this BBC interview Sarah, one of Bags of Taste’s participants, talks about how Bags of Taste gave her the skills she needed to manage and budget her diet after leaving care, which failed to equip her for life on her own.

Learning disabilities

After receiving referrals from Mencap for many years, this has helped us reformat our programme for accessibility to ensure that those, for example, with difficulties reading (dyslexia) or organising (ADHD) are not excluded from accessing and enjoying our course content.

We’ve run successful courses for people with learning disabilities that engage with both individuals and their carers.  Cooking at home with a carer provides both a familiar environment and a friendly face – a winning combination.  Our mentors work with the carer to support the participant, and a range of specifically designed materials and channels including: videos, illustrations and accessible text. This mixed media approach including WhatsApp engages students and fuels their enthusiasm.

People with physical disabilities and/or long-term conditions

We have recently developed specialist resources for people with long term debilitating conditions such as fibromyalgia, long COVID and ME, which interfere with a participants’ ability to cook in multiple ways; exhaustion and physical limitations impact, for example, their ability to hold a knife or stand for long, and temporal limitations mean what might be physically possible one day may not be the next.

Participants find that our practical strategies, such as advice on specialist equipment, are very useful, and that the flexibility afforded them by the mentored programme gives them the essential ability to cook when they are feeling well, and rest when not.  With these participants we cook on their good days and freeze ahead for bad days.

People in recovery from addiction

We’ve helped people in recovery since our earliest days, so we have extensive experience in this area and  have been commissioned for specialist courses, including on-site in recovery colleges, where we provide participants with essential regular one-to-one mentoring.

This is a video of one of our participants of our face-to-face courses, Ken, talking about his experience.

This short documentary from the BBC features course participant Donella, who is in recovery from addiction. (at 30s)

I can only describe the course as life-changing for P. Not only does he wish he had discovered cooking earlier in his life, he also feels that now, as a retiree, he can work again either in a voluntary or paid capacity, as some manner of chef.

He is committed to doing the follow on recipes and he is already actively seeking new recipes from me and is watching a cooking show to teach him more of the basics. He feels happier and healthier than previously, and in particular it has done wonders for his mental health. It’s been a privilege to work with him“.

Ex-offenders

We have worked on a nationwide partnership with social justice charity NACRO which was highly successful and supported 200 people through one-to-one mentoring as well as through groups.

The partnership was piloted with 10 service users in Teesside and then it was rolled out across all the NACRO housing services.