Food Justice

New cookery classes at the Wild Goose café 

By Ramona Andrews

The Wild Goose Day Centre on Stapleton Road is a sanctuary for many facing the harsh realities of homelessness and rough sleeping. Run by the charity inHope, the café offers more than just meals. With facilities such as a private medical room, showers, laundry services, and a vibrant communal art piece that greets visitors at the entrance. 

Wild Goose is a beacon of hope and support. Next month, the café is set to expand its offerings with the introduction of cookery classes aimed at empowering individuals with essential culinary skills and knowledge. 

“It’s not just about feeding people” 

Andy, the Provisions Deputy Manager at Wild Goose, oversees the daily production of around 150 meals for those in need with Head Chef, Lee. “Lee performs alchemy with what we give him,” Andy says, highlighting the creativity and care that goes into each meal. Both Andy and Lee have been instrumental in developing the new cookery course, seeing it as a natural extension of their work. 

“We really want to help people move forward in their recovery journey, becoming more self-sufficient,” Andy explains. “It’s not just about feeding people; it’s about educating them about how to create nutritious and cost-effective meals.” The course will cover basics like chopping an onion and boiling an egg, as well as more complex tasks like handling a knife properly and preparing various dishes from simple ingredients. 

Lee, who has been creating recipes based on food bank parcels, adds, “The main idea came from the contents of food bank parcels. We want to show people that they can create diverse meals from dried and tinned foods. Rather than just heating up a tin of beans, you can make curried beans, barbecued beans, or add some cooked meat to them.”

Lee describes how learning how to batch cook is also incredibly useful: “cook some minced beef, divide it up and then you create three different meals, and some can go in the freezer. That way you only use the energy and other costs to make the meal once.” 

Aiming for self-sufficiency and better health 

The primary goal of the cookery classes is to promote self-sufficiency and better health among the café’s service users. Mick, Manager at Wild Goose, explains the broader vision: “Many of our service users are in crisis, dealing with homelessness, substance misuse, and poor physical and mental health and their bodies need a healthy balanced meal. By offering these cookery classes, we hope to provide them with skills that will help them sustain themselves more healthily and affordably.” 

The course will cover essential skills like food hygiene, knife skills, and creative ways to use basic ingredients. “We’re not looking to produce the next Gordon Ramsay or Jamie Oliver,” Andy says with a smile. “But we do want to show people that they can save a lot of money and eat well by cooking at home.” 

For several years the Wild Goose has achieved a food hygiene rating 5 which staff have worked hard to maintain and are very proud of.

Tailored for success 

Mick elaborates on the structure of the course: “It’s a five-week, themed programme, and we’re planning to run it four times a year subject to some funding. Initially, it will be for our Wild Goose service users, but we hope to extend it to other inHope projects like our emergency women’s night shelter and life recovery services.”  

The classes are designed to be accessible and practical. “We’ve tailored the course to be very digestible,” Andy explains. “We talk about the benefits of affordable ingredients like cauliflower and how people can save money while improving health.” 

Building a community of support 

The cookery classes also aim to build a sense of community. Participants will learn together and share the meals they prepare, fostering connections and mutual support. Andy and Lee are particularly excited about involving service users in the process. “We’re setting up a table in the café to promote the classes and gather feedback,” Andy says. “Once we have a core group of participants, we’ll start the course on Tuesday afternoons.” 

The initiative is a testament to the Wild Goose café’s commitment to holistic care, addressing both immediate needs and long-term well-being. With the cookery classes set to launch next month, Andy, Lee, Mick, and the entire Wild Goose team are hopeful about the positive impact that this new venture will have on their community. 


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