Customers at a supported living service in Huddersfield have celebrated the launch of their new on-site skill development kitchen by whipping up some baking.
The kitchen has been specially designed to ensure its accessibility to all those living at Laurel Court, a scheme in Huddersfield that has 26 apartments for people with learning disabilities. Not only are the residents able to demonstrate and develop their culinary skills, they will also eventually cook the fruit and vegetables produced at two nearby allotments.
Church Housing Trust contributed funds towards all three parts of the project – gardening at the two local allotments, communal cooking sessions, and the production of the specially designed cookery book – that will together form one holistic programme designed to have a positive impact on the wellbeing, social and living skills of the customers.
Riverside Laurel Court’s Team Leader, Jamie Cooper, said the bespoke kitchen is being used to hold interactive cooking sessions for all at Laurel Court, including those residing in the apartments for emergency or respite.
“Riverside’s customers, who live independently, have been involved from the start. One customer chose the name ‘Rusty Chef’ as we are all ‘a bit rusty’!” explained Jamie.
Some customers chose to take part in clearing the two allotments, which are being transformed so that they are ready for planting. After a lot of planning and planting, the end result will be an area for growing produce, which includes a plastic polytunnel greenhouse, and a sensory garden.
“Then the fun part begins. The produce will be used to make fresh and healthy meals,” says Jamie. “Our customers are also being supported to create a pictorial cookbook. Using photos from the cooking sessions, they will put together a step-by-step guide to making home-cooked, healthy meals.”
At the launch of the kitchen on Wednesday, customers shared their baking skills with visitors, providing cakes for their families, local occupational therapists, and social workers. They also had the chance to get active with dance therapy group Beat It and try out therapeutic colouring-in activities. The local fire brigade was even able to drop by and give a few residents the chance to try on helmets and get a glimpse inside the fire engine.
Church Housing Trust Director, Miriam Morris, said: “We’re really pleased to provide funding for Laurel Court’s Grow and Cook project.
“It will help the individuals living there to recognise and prepare good food, from the ground up. Many people who have taken part in similar projects that we have funded at other Riverside schemes have discovered a passion for gardening or cooking that becomes their vocation.”