The BRIDGES project aims to help people overcome personal barriers to help them to enrich their lives and improve their chances of finding work. Project Officer Ruby has been running weekly cookery classes at Dorothy Parkes Centre in Smethwick to help participants on the project improve their confidence.

Participants Ruth and Andrew both had very low self-esteem and lacked confidence, during initial sessions with Ruby the pair identified that they would both like to learn to cook as this would give them more independence and help to improve their confidence, so Ruby put together a four-week plan for cookery classes and began helping them to learn some basic skills.

Each week the participants would choose between them what they wanted to cook which helped them to improve their confidence and social skills, they would then make a shopping list and go grocery shopping with Ruby to get the required ingredients. All of these activities helped the pair build confidence and learn basic day-to-day skills that would in turn help them to become more independent. 

For week one they cooked butternut squash soup, week two was curry with rice and naan and week three was veg pasta with garlic bread. For the fourth week both Andrew and Ruth were encouraged to choose something they wanted to cook and make it for three people, Andrew has chosen sausage, mash and peas with onion gravy and Ruth has picked cheese & ham omelette with chips. They will each be serving their final dish to three people to show off their new cooking skills! 

So far both Ruth and Andrew have received great feedback from those who have tried their cooking which has really helped to improve their self confidence. Learning the basic skills needed to make a shopping list, buy ingredients and cook a meal for a small number of people has given them valuable life skills that will help them to become more independent and confident. 

Ruth and Andrew are looking forward to their final cookery class next week and are both feeling much more confident!