Published on 6th January 2011

A new generation of masterchefs in the making may be about to spring out of Cheltenham thanks to a new community project run by Cheltenham Borough Homes (CBH).

The CBH 'Cook with friends' project has been set up to give tenants the skills and ideas to prepare a simple, quick and cheap, healthy hot meal. The Chill n' Chat group from St Paul 's were the first to take part in the project which aimed to help the young participants increase their confidence in the kitchen whilst also providing an important opportunity to socialise.

The session began with an explanation of the health and safety risks associated with using knives, electricity, hot plates and the importance of using coloured chopping boards to prevent cross contamination. Attendees then prepared a dish at their own pace before sitting down together to eat the finished product. Leftovers were taken home, with clear instructions on how to store and reheat, for the rest of their family to enjoy.  

The Chill n Chat group enjoyed the session so much they asked for another longer session, to include making a dessert, to be run in their next school holidays. Drawing on the confidence they had gained from the previous experience, this time the group planned their own menu and after the food had been eaten, the budding chefs rolled up their sleeves, washed their dishes and cleaned away any mess.

Project co-ordinator Karen Slater said: "At their first session, the group members were very nervous and literally had no ideas of what to cook and how to make a healthy yet hearty meal. Initially, I had to do most of the preparation for the session, including offering several ideas of meal choices and discussing with them the importance of incorporating fruit and vegetables into their daily eating habits. By the final session members of the Chill n Chat group had grown in confidence to such an extent that they sourced their own recipes from the internet, wrote a detailed ingredients list and highlighted the nutritional value of what they wished to cook."

The young people really enjoyed the sessions and had only positive things to say about the project.

Following the success of the project with the Chill n Chat group, 'Cook with friends' was then run in partnership with Gloucestershire Youth Services at the Oasis Youth Centre, Hester's Way. Two groups took part; Embrace, a disability youth group and Inters, children from school years 8-9. Both groups got the opportunity to cook a low fat healthier version of the fast food that members of the group love to eat regularly.

CBH is hoping to run further 'Cook with friends' sessions in the near future.

Notes for editors

Cheltenham Borough Homes:

  • CBH is one of the top rated ALMOs in the country, assessed as providing 'excellent services with excellent prospects for the future' by the Audit Commission.  
  • Currently CBH manage and maintain around 5,000 tenant and leasehold properties with an overall satisfaction level of 85%, placing them in the top ten ALMOs nationally. 
  • The organisation's approach to community development and participation; governance and equality and diversity has been recognised as good practice nationally. A new ten year management agreement, which will run until 31st March 2020 , was recently finalised.
  • CBH continue to develop excellent services by working closely with customers.  It will include building new homes and continuing to regenerate communities whilst tackling issues of worklessness and addressing social enterprise.

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Press contact: Catherine Best e: [email protected] t: 01242 775317