Social Exclusion: Tackling The Issue Through Cooking
Whether we like it or not, we live in an incredibly diverse society. Sadly though, there is still a frightening number of people that suffer from social exclusion.
By social exclusion, I’m referring to individuals not feeling as though they have access to the traditional rights and privileges of society. Usually, this is as a result of poverty or belonging to a particular minority.
For many of us, the effects of social exclusion may not be noticeable, which is almost by definition.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. If anything, the lack of attention that social exclusion gets actually makes it an even bigger concern.
As with most social issues, various charities exist to help vulnerable people. Whether it’s homelessness or addiction, there are services out there for those in need. However, as I explained in a recent article, social enterprises can sometimes be far more effective at creating social impact.
I was therefore very fortunate to be introduced to Cookhouse, a social enterprise dedicated to addressing this exact issue.
In short, Cookhouse teach vulnerable people how to cook.
Based in Portsmouth, they run special workshops to equip people with the skills required to live healthily and sustainably. You might be wondering what this has to do with social exclusion?
Well, that’s actually what I love about the idea.
On the face of it, cooking almost seems unrelated to the problem at hand. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. As Keith McAllister, founder of Cookhouse, explains, cooking and social exclusion actually go hand in hand.
Being such a key skill, cooking is something that can create an enormous amount of self confidence. It can also help people live independently and feel more in control of their own lives. This helps make people feel included in society, and stay included in the long-run.
Some of the sessions that Cookhouse run are as follows:
These course support people in the early stages of recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. As well as providing a real community for people that desperately need it, these courses act as a key step in the right direction for people to get their life back on track.
These sessions are aimed at people who need extra supervision or support. In the past, this has included young offenders, people with mental health issues, and NEETs (not in education, employment or training). Again, not only do Cookhouse provide these groups with key skills, they create a welcoming community at the same time.
Why I Like This Idea
I always enjoy learning about social enterprises. It’s always amazing to see the ways that people use their talents and skills to address social issues.
With Cookhouse though, I’ve particularly liked learning about them.
It’s Indirect, But Effective:
As I’ve already mentioned, I really like that fact that it’s an indirect way to tackle this issue. With social exclusion, I feel that the more ‘direct’ solutions can sometimes just keep the problem at bay. It actually reminds me of a very well-known quote:
“Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach him to fish, and you’ll feed him for the rest of his life.”
Cookhouse are certainly doing the latter. They’re providing people with the skills and confidence to overcome future challenges themselves.
It’s nice and original, and I like it.
It Has Knock-On Effects:
Yes, the main aim is integrating people back into society, but I think Cookhouse goes beyond this.
In many developed countries, there is an obesity crisis.
As I mentioned in my article about the sugar tax, healthy diets can be really expensive. By teaching people to live healthily on a budget, Cookhouse are also doing their bit to neutralise the broader effects of poverty.
It’s arguably a more long term solution than many traditional ideas, because it gives people the necessary skills and belief to keep them from slipping back into social exclusion.
As you’ve probably guessed, I think Cookhouse is a fantastic social enterprise.
Although they currently only operate in Portsmouth, they have plans to expand in the future, and I think communities will be better for it.
Considering the times in which we live, ideas like these are crucial for finding long-term solutions to social problems.
Find Out More:
If you’re eager to learn more about Cookhouse, head over to their website.
Alternatively, check them out on social media:
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Hi! I’m an author and blogger within the fields of social impact and responsible business. I believe that businesses can be a force for good in the world, and this website contains my thoughts on how that can work.