DM Thomas Foundation awarded West Kent YMCA with a grant for £4,083 to provide a Cooking on a Budget course, delivered to 125 young people in small groups. The course enabled the young people to develop important cookery skills, increase their self-confidence, and acquire essentials skills for living independently.
By providing supported housing at Ryder House and assisting approximately 70 homeless men and women between the ages of 16 and 25, West Kent YMCA helps young people find their footing in life and build a better future for themselves. The charity creates a safe and welcoming environment where they can have intensive one-to-one support for up to two years, designed to help them to address any issues they may have and prepare them for independent living.
The YMCA’s new programme took place in conjunction with their individual support plan and taught young people how to budget, how to consume a healthy and balanced diet on a small income, and helped them to gain an accredited qualification. Funding from the Foundation covered the cost of cooking equipment and ingredients for participants.
17-year-old Sarah came to the ‘Cooking on a Budget’ programme to learn easy and simple meals for herself and her boyfriend. Having arrived from care, she was unable to cook, budget, or maintain her tenancy, which led her support worker to suggest this bespoke skills programme for her.
She has completed 4 cooking sessions with the programme and is continuing one to one cooking sessions each week with her support worker. She is now able to plan a week’s worth of inexpensive and healthy dishes, manage her finances, and experiment with new ideas.
Another tenant, Kirsty, is slowly starting to engage with all the projects at Ryder House and has enrolled in the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze award, choosing cookery as her new skill. As an individual with anxiety and agoraphobia, she initially did not feel able to come to the cooking group but eventually was happy to learn how to make simple meals that she could share with other residents, and on one occasion she cooked spaghetti carbonara for 20 residents.
The Foundation also funded the purchase of ration packs for the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, to be used in the expedition that the young people at Ryder House are currently working towards, which will place in the summer of 2015.
Throughout this partnership, the charity forged a very positive relationship with their nearest Hilton Hotel, Hilton Maidstone, who arranged a 5 day work experience week for two young people. In October 2014, these two individuals travelled to the hotel with a member of YMCA staff. Their first day consisted of lots of health, safety, and admin preparation, followed by four days packed full of opportunities for the young people to experiencedplenty of behind the scenes hotel work. They gained experience of the kitchen, restaurant, housekeeping, front desk, health and fitness centre, and finished the week with feedback from the General Manager.
“The team at Hilton Maidstone have a passion for helping young people who are disadvantaged and they have gone out of their way to inspire the young people at Ryder House, through the work experience week. We are truly grateful for their passionate support,” said Carole Darling, Senior Fundraising at West Kent YMCA. Hilton Maidstone has also been particularly generous in supporting West Kent YMCA with in-kind donations.