Project: Food Education through Cooking Skills
Food Nation CIC is a social enterprise based in Newcastle. Its vision is to inspire people about good food and it does this through its food education services which equip people with skills and knowledge to improve food and nutrition choices and build healthier communities. It focuses specifically on addressing a range of diet-related health inequalities for individuals and groups.
Its services emphasise using fresh, sustainable and locally sourced ingredients, aiming to inspire creativity and excitement around food; instilling healthy, positive attitudes. Its programme includes content on practical cooking skills at a range of experience levels, food hygiene, food growing, understanding and using nutritional information, meal planning, shopping and budgeting.
The Food Education through Cooking Skills project delivers food education in two ways: premise-based work and outreach work. For premise-based work, it operates a fully functional training kitchen at their headquarters in Heaton which offers taught courses on weekdays, evenings and weekends as well as one-off workshops and special themed events for participants and volunteers.
It also operates an allotment site which it uses for food growing workshops and sessions with local schools and other community groups. In addition, it is fully equipped to deliver outreach work in a range of indoor and outdoor settings, such as sheltered accommodation, hostels, schools, community centres and other public spaces. Its outreach experience is significant and allows it to respond dynamically and efficiently to new spaces, groups and opportunities to innovate.
Food Nation’s services prioritise individuals and groups within the 20% most deprived communities in the region, as defined by the Multiple Deprivation Index 2015.
The Cooking Skills programmes are evaluated continuously: results from 2015-16 show that 67% of participants (a statistically significant impact) reported an increased confidence to cook from scratch as a result of attendance. Furthermore, there is an overall increase in participants' knowledge and understanding of food groups and nutritional content.
The proportion of participants who recognised attending had helped them to save money through budgeting and meal planning increased by 50% following completion. Participants also reported improved behaviour and attitudes towards food and a decrease in beliefs that healthy food is expensive and ready meals are cheaper than cooking from scratch. This has resulted in a statistically significant reduction in the frequency of ready meals/takeaways consumed weekly.
This project has also been awarded the Public Health Minister's Award 2016.
Project: Halton's Health Improvement Service
The Health Improvement Service delivers health and wellbeing interventions across the life course to all residents in Halton.
The service plays a significant role in addressing the five priorities contained in Halton's Health and Wellbeing Strategy, and works with a wide range of local agencies to deliver innovative, evidence based and measurable health interventions and access to low level early intervention and prevention services across the community.
The current functions of the service can be summarized into three areas:
- Start well – this works closely with children, families, schools and other local agencies to deliver a range of programmes for children and families across Runcorn and Widnes
- Live Well – this is designed to help adults in Halton lead healthier and more active lifestyles
- Age Well: this focuses on supporting people as they age to retain their independence, reduce loneliness and social isolation.
Key to the success of the service is its award-winning social marketing and communications function.
The social marketing team works to promote existing programmes in partnership with Public Health England and other local organisations and to develop new social marketing campaigns to improve the health and wellbeing of residents across Halton.
Project: Travelling to Better Health: Gypsy & Traveller Healthy Living Project
The aim of this project was to develop skills and knowledge within the Gypsy and Traveller communities to help enable them to self-organise and articulate their health needs and solutions.
It encompasses a wide range of health and wellbeing topics including diet and nutrition, alcohol consumption and promotion of and uptake of immunisation and health screening opportunities.
Partnership work clearly indicated that there were key activists with an appetite to be more actively involved in health improvement activities such as smoking cessation, mental health, drugs and alcohol.
The programme sought to harness this activism, build rapport and trust and create a sustainable connection between these ethnic community groups and their local healthy lifestyle services and wider stakeholder services involved in providing health and wellbeing services.
Six women were recruited as Health Champions for the project; all had expressed an interest in taking part in training and the project. Five were Romany Gypsies and one lived as a New Traveller.
They researched and discussed national and local health outcomes for Gypsies/Travellers, current and traditional lifestyles and how they impact on health, and health beliefs and attitudes. The result of these consultations was the creation of health information for the travelling community, written and distributed by the health champions.