Food Justice

Fostering belonging: What can we learn from Migrateful about community?

By Sophie Jackson

In the second in a new series about community cooking projects on this blog, Bristol Food Network volunteer Sophie Jackson finds out more about Migrateful, a community cooking project that goes beyond simply sharing recipes. Find out how you can support this inspiring initiative while expanding your own horizons.

Migrateful works by connecting people through food, but more importantly, it breaks down prejudice and fosters an environment where we can share stories, cook, learn, and inspire each other. By bringing people together through food, through a structure that celebrates different cultures and shines a light on the beauty of diversity in our communities, Migrateful is working to highlight the contributions that migrants make to our society. 

The current immigration system in the UK is designed to present a very “hostile environment” to migrants. Migrateful is working to systematically break this down, and highlight how grateful we are for the contribution that migrants make in our society here in the UK. They do this by bringing people together through food, whilst also creating a system that uplifts different cultures and shines a light on the beauty that is the diversity in our local communities. 

Migrateful challenges individual, and collective perspectives and serves as a reminder that there is more than one side of the story when it comes to immigration. This is why Migrateful’s work is empowering for everyone involved; as it creates deeper roots between us, to uplift the otherwise unheard side of the story – the story of the one migrating. 

Founded in 2017 by Jess (a  Bristolian!), once established in London the first Bristol training was delivered in 2019 in Partnership with Coexist Community Kitchen in Easton. This year, the project is growing and welcoming the next cohort of chefs onto the cookery class teacher programme, with six exciting new chefs bringing six new menus, and six new stories. 

This month, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend one of Migrateful’s cookery classes, run by Negla, who shared her Sudanese cuisine with us – complete with Dama (chicken curry), Molah Nemya (okra dip) and Gurasa (sudanese pancake), Negla shared her love for food, and showed us new ways of exploring ingredients! 

How does it work? 

Migrateful classes are based on psychologist Gordon Allport’s well-validated “contact theory,” which sets out the conditions under which intergroup contact between marginalised and host communities can successfully reduce prejudice. The conditions include having participants of equal status working collaboratively on a common goal. Migrateful’s classes are designed to meet these conditions and promote positive contact. 

After chatting with Georgia from Migrateful, she shared with me that as well as running cookery classes for the public, this year they are focusing on running events for different Bristol-based businesses for team building or company socials. In fact, they see a higher level of shifting attitudes among attendees to private team events – as they see people who might not ordinarily get involved coming along and learning about migrants’ stories through food. 

55% of participants report increased knowledge about migrants’ situations, and 31% report feeling warmer attitudes toward migrants after attending the class, in corporate group sessions – read more here. 

By getting involved in Migrateful cookery classes, you are supporting the organisation’s chefs on their journey towards integration, whilst cooking, eating and sharing some amazing food! Want to share the love? Buy a voucher for a friend, or suggest a team-building activity at work! 

What Can I Do? 

To get involved, sign up for a class! By stepping into the kitchen you will not only be supporting Migrateful’s amazing work, but widening your own knowledge about migration, as well as food from different cultures. If you want the next step up, become part of the Orange Onion Club, and volunteer your time to support the running of Migrateful cookery classes. Learn more about volunteering.

When we think about our communities, we often think of the people who directly surround us – either on our street, on our block, or in our neighbourhood. We can forget to take notice of our wider community, outside of the daily faces we see every day. I encourage you to ask yourself: 

  • What communities are we building in Bristol and across the UK? 
  • What environment are we subconsciously, or consciously creating for people coming to this country, seeking to be part of our communities, both small and large? 
  • What can we do in our direct spaces, to make everyone feel welcome – no matter how far from home they may be? 

Overall, Migrateful’s work is about so much more than just delicious food. It is about seeing how we are diminished when we ostracize others from our community. With immigration remaining a contentious topic in the UK, Migrateful is simultaneously working to support migrants whilst also addressing the fears and misconceptions among the general public about immigration. 

Reflecting on Migrateful’s work, my final question to you is: What actions can you take today to show gratitude, uplift, and expand your community? 

Read Sophie Jackson’s first story in this series showcasing community cooking projects across Bristol on the wonderful charity Square Food Foundation.

Join the conversation

So, what change do you want to see happen that will transform food in Bristol by 2030? Do you already have an idea for how Bristol can make this happen? Join the conversation now.

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