Charity helps fight food poverty through slow cookers and classes

When a charity heard that people across its communities could no longer afford to turn on their ovens, it came up with an innovative solution.

Home To Work, which has an impressive record of helping people transform their lives, is handing out slow cookers to those worst affected by the cost of living crisis.

The charity, based in West Cumbria, is also backing up its support by running cookery classes to give people the skills they need to make the most of the cookers.

Through research, the charity discovered that the cost of making meals was much more affordable through using a slow cooker which runs at approximately 4p an hour, compared to a conventional oven at an estimated 45p an hour.

Home to Work have responded by offering local unemployed people an opportunity to learn more during March and April. Each week a group of eight people will attend the two-day course to learn how to cook healthy and nutritious meals with the slow cooker. Tutor Owen Lintot will provide attendees with their own slow cooker, blanket, thermos flasks and apron. The course is funded by the Cumbria Community Foundation.

Karen Jones, Managing Director of Home to Work, said: “Through the cooking class we want to share that not only can you make soups and stews with a slow cooker, but you can make breads, cakes, casseroles and a whole range of things.

“We hear from our learners that they are struggling with the increase in the cost of energy so we wanted to look at cheaper alternatives to using an oven to cook.

“We give our course attendees food vouchers for local butchers and supermarkets so that they can use what they learned in our sessions to cook at home. They also learn all about food safety and hygiene.”

On the day that the first course was announced all places were secured and a reserve list was set up.

Karen said: “We were overwhelmed and delighted with the interest in our slow cooking class.

“We would love to run this course again as clearly there is a very high demand. Some of the cooking classes we run still have places available on them, but places on the slow cooker class were snapped up straight away.”

The charity’s headquarters in Cleator Moor from where it serves communities across Copeland, also doubles up as a warm hub.

People can call in to the centre for a hot meal, good company and conversation, card games, or to sit and read or knit. This is part of a Cosy Club, funded by Cumbria County Council, and there are still places available.

Home to Work also runs a number of courses for the unemployed including woodworking classes and courses at their upcycling centre.

The charity also offers life coaching sessions and support with job applications as part of its work to help people develop the personal and professional skills they need to find routes into employment.

The charity operates a minibus, donated by Shepley Engineers in Whitehaven, so it is able to provide transport for people who would otherwise be unable to attend.

Karen said: “We are able to open our doors to any unemployed person in Copeland. Our staff are fully trained and qualified to help anyone who comes to us.

“We are open and non-judgemental. We have a dedicated team who always go the extra mile to make a difference in someone’s lives.”

Home to Work continues to expand its programme of support, including its Good Lives project at West Lakes Science Park, where volunteers grow food and then cook meals using its own-grown produce in the charity’s kitchens.


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